Posted on: November 09, 2020 Environment

 

Truck Picking Up Recycle

 

To understand the hazards of bioplastics, you must first understand what bioplastics are and how they differ from regular plastic to petroleum-based raw materials. Essentially, bioplastics are made from 20 percent or more renewable materials. Though bioplastics are an improvement, they are not the solution to ending plastic pollution. 

At the heart of arguments regarding bioplastics lies the discussion and analyses of degradable, biodegradable, and compostable items. What are the differences between these terms? 

Something that is “degradable” can be broken down into tiny fragments or powder (i.e., all plastic is degradable). On the other hand, biodegradable refers to plastics that are broken down completely into water, carbon dioxide, and compost in a decomposition process that happens in weeks to months. Lastly, compostable plastic degrades in a compost site, where it is broken down to carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass at the same rate as other organic materials within that same pile, thus leaving no toxic residue.

Moreover, there are two types of bioplastics: polylactic acid (PLA) and polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA). PLA is typically made from the sugars in corn starch, cassava, or sugarcane, whereas PHA is made by microorganisms that produce plastic from organic materials. Bioplastics made of PLA, the most common type, showed toxicity levels similar to those of PVC, the most highly toxic type of plastic available. 

Unfortunately, though they are often deemed as a more eco-friendly alternative to typical plastic, not all bioplastics are easily compostable. The 5 Gyres Institute found that most bioplastics require industrial-level composting and take decades to decompose and often need processing separate from standard plastic. This process is expensive, unfeasible for most cities, and a culprit of increased levels of local industrial emissions, as well as methane gas (which is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide!). 

Recently, there has been increased conversation surrounding corn starch plastics. According to Columbia University, a 2017 study found that transitioning from traditional plastic to corn-based PLA would cut greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by 25 percent. However, despite the promising statistics, corn plastic has its disadvantages. For one, it faces a problem we keep encountering—it has to be broken down in hot, humid commercial composting facilities that are not readily available. 

At Ecologic Brands, we care deeply for the environment and craft products that we believe can make the world a better, more sustainable place. Ecologic Brands’s products and strategic processes help avoid many of these bioplastic dangers. 

Our eco-friendly packaging made from 100% recycled cardboard and old newspaper can be recycled again or composted where no recycling facilities exist. Recycled cardboard and old newspaper are pulped into a slurry mix in a giant vat that is then transferred to a forming station, which applies tremendous heat and pressure on to tooling cavities that form paper bottle shells. 

Further, Ecologic Brands uses custom equipment to produce thin, lightweight, collapsible liners that act as the perfect partner to molded fiber shells. Our liner is customizable and currently HDPE plastic (made of 80 percent recycled plastic and 20 percent virgin). However, the above recipe does not solve the problem completely, which is why we are moving toward PET liners that can be made of 100 percent PCR and are stronger and more easily recycled than HDPE.

Join us in making the world a better place, one (non-bioplastic) bottle at a time. 

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