plastics apparently aren’t as green as you’d think.
turns out most commercially available bio-plastics —
plastics made from crops such as corn and coconut fiber
— biodegrade poorly, researchers at Ohio State
University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and
Development Center in Wooster Township have found.
in some cases, bio-plastics can be worse for the
environment than fossil-fuel-based plastics when taking
into account inputs needed to grow crops from which
these products are made, land and water use, and the
greenhouse gases released from these plastics when they
do break down," Fred Michel, a biosystems engineer
at the center, said in a news release about the study.
study was conducted by Michel and Eddie Gómez, a recent
Ph.D. graduate. It was published in the December issue
of the journal Polymer Degradation and Stability.
study tested plastics made from natural materials as
well as petroleum-based plastics with additives that are
supposed to help them break down. Almost all did a poor
job of decomposing all three environments in which they
were tested — compost, soil and an anaerobic digester.
one bio-plastic, made via sugar fermentation,
biodegraded sufficiently, the study found.
make the matter even more complicated, Michel pointed
out that petroleum-based plastics made from polylactic
acid, also known as PLA, are biodegradable.
it comes to biodegradability, talking about fossil
fuel-based versus bio-based plastics does not make much
sense," he said.