Bioplastics Are Bad


Gosh, I wonder what other fashionable eco-groove we\’ll find out is a bad idea?

5 thoughts on “Bioplastics Are Bad”

  1. I think we just witnessing the usual socialist in-fighting but this time it is green v green. Just look at Friends of the Earth v Greenpeace over biofuels. Soon we will be having purges and the losing side will be referred to as right-wing;)

  2. Hi,

    I wrote a review of this article on my forum from the perspective of being a shareholder in Stanelco PLC, a manufacturer of Bioplastics made from Potato starch, or blends of potato starch and PLA.

    My opinion of the article from The Guardian:

    1) It’s very biased.
    2) The big food crop problems they list are nothing to do with Bioplastics, they are caused by Ethanol and other Bio-FUEL production, not Bioplastics
    3) Point 2 is proven by the fact total Bioplastics capacity(not production) are only at 500,000 tonnes P.A, and growing by 20% per annum, no way is that affecting food crops of many millions of tonnes. Global Wheat production alone is 524m tonnes per annum, corn is 766m tonnes per annum.
    4) It takes no account of Potato starch(our primary source of raw material), there has been no growth in this industry outside of China.
    5) They have no Life Cycle Analysis(LCA) on Bioplastics to back up their claims
    6) Some Bioplastics are certified CO2 NEUTRAL
    7) Stanelco/Biotec are working out the LCA for Bioplast, it will be carbon neutral or carbon negative now, or they will make it so.
    8) They give no option for me to comment other than to send a letter to their letters page, leaving any reader with their biased bad impression of Bioplastics.
    9) Who cares what recyclers will or will not take, because UK Composting is already available in many cities, and it IS on the cards for everywhere. Compostable Bioplastics are and will be taken by the composting collectors, the facilities are high temperature industrial types where PLA will break down and compost just as Natureworks say it will.

    If in any doubt please read your way through the UK National Non-Food Crops Centre, they are the EXPERTS on the subject

    Also for other reasons for lower food crops look at global warming, Bioplastics do not cause global warming if disposed of correctly, oil based plastics contribute to global warming due to their higher levels of CO2 created in production, it doesn’t matter how they are disposed of as the CO2 has already been produced by then.

    World’s most important crops hit by global warming effects

    Bio-FUELS is the problem not Bioplastics

    And this is the way the UK is switching to composting:

    Northamptonshire council backs £129 million PFI request
    The draft OBC document states that: “The technology chosen for the reference project was biological mechanical treatment with advanced thermal treatment of resulting refuse-derived fuel and in-vessel composting of biodegradable material.

    You can’t have it both ways, you either use Bioplastics and reduce CO2 thus gradually reversing the drop in crop production, or you use petro-plastics and increase CO2 and reduce food crop production further via global warming.

    Buyers of Bioplastics are aware of the issues of PLA, we are not selling PLA we are selling potato starch based Bioplastics that do compost at home, or blends of potato starch and PLA, utilising our own(Sphere’s) industrial potato crop, which has always been an industrial potato crop grown only for the starch, it was never there as a food crop for at least the last 10 years whilst Avebe owned the starch factory.


  3. There is lots of heat but rather little illumination in this somewhat confused Guardian article.

    PLA is a polymer made from condensing lactide, a dimer of lactic acid. In the presence of water, in warm conditions, PLA hydrolyses to generate lactic acid. If composted, which if properly conducted should be an aerobic process i.e. oxygen present, the lactic acid will be decomposed to carbon dioxide and water.

    Under anaerobic conditions (absence of oxygen) lactic acid might contribute to methane production. The article suggests composting of PLA (an aerobic process) can only take place in a limited number of anaerobic digesters. This would produce methane.

    Properly managed landfills and anaerobic digesters will efficiently collect methane and burn it to produce carbon dioxide and energy.

    Separating individual plastics for recycling is already needed. Separating PLA is merely a marking, consumer education and management issue.

    Regarding the diversion of renewable resources into chemical production:
    (1) When oil runs out, we will need to use renewable chemical feedstocks. It is just as well that we have innovative companies leading the way in developing such feedstocks.
    (2) Yes, at present corn is used as the feedstock for plastics production and obviously this currently competes with food use.
    (3) Research is already being conducted towards producing lactic acid and other chemical feedstocks from non-food parts of the plant. This would drastically reduce the acreage needed to grow crops for making plastic.

  4. Is it just me or are food shortages being used to sidetrack every biofuel/plastic/whatever debate? Seriously!?! If logic couldn’t slow them down, how would a worldwide food shortage?

    FYI- Cato just finished a 2-part podcast on the subject of food supplies and bio-whatevers. Not a bad listen and a good argument for rising standards of living in China and India having a role in the cost of food.

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