Saturday, December 10, 2011

Biodegradable Plastic Packaging - Small Change for Big Environmental Results

When the concept of "going green" became part of main stream culture a few years back, the ideas floating around were all about major changes to revolutionize the way we live. The truth is that while these grandiose ideas are great, the logistics behind implementing them simply don't make sense. It would be great if everyone could have a garden on your rooftop, but the truth is it's just not going to happen with the way we currently construct buildings. Now the idea of going green is not exclusive to huge ideas, but that doesn't mean that they can't have huge impacts.
One of the best way for us to go green is not by new environmentally friendly products becoming available, it's by finding an existing eco-solutions for things we currently already use. A great example of that is with packaging materials.
I can't think of something that has as much impact on our landfills, but as little consumer thought put into it as packaging materials. Almost everything we purchase these days comes wrapped in multiple layers of plastic or plastic laminated papers. These items cause a huge strain on our eco-system since often regions aren't able to properly recycle the product, or find an end use for that recycled material which makes the recycling economically viable.
The truth is that recycling plastic requires more energy than it did to produce it in the first place, it can take up to 500 years to decompose, and the average family disposes of roughly 40kg of it each year. On top of all this, much of the plastic we put in the blue bin isn't able to be recycled anyways and ends up in landfills regardless.
The solution? Biodegradable plastic. Biodegradable plastics can be one of two main types. Either they're made of organic material derived from plant starches or cellulose, or they're a biodegradable additive which is blended with traditional plastics causing it to break down and biodegradable naturally once exposed to the elements. Either one can be disposed of and will biodegrade, not sit around for 500 years like traditional plastics.
By changing all of our plastic packaging from standard plastic to biodegradable plastic we can help the environment without even noticing it. The packaging may cost a 5-10% more to produce for manufacturers, but since packaging is normally such a small fraction of the total cost of producing a product, they can pass that cost along and have it go unnoticed by their consumers.

No comments:

Post a Comment