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Are natural plastic resin substitutes really good for the environment?



National Packaging Manager, DS Waters
Industry: Beverage
Location: Grand Prairie, TX, USA
Role: Packager

I am wondering how good bioplastics really are for the environment. There are the well publicized PLA resins and the recent PET filler announced by Coke that uses a molasses based filler to remove PET content. But what actual benefits or costs do these replacement plastics have?
1. There is the claim that the resins are completely recyclable; however, when you talk to a recycling company, they hate these hybrid resins because they pollute the PET stream. So how recyclable are they? Do they do more harm than good to the recycled regrind quality?
2. What is the affect on the world food supply/cost when large quantities of corn and other important food grains are pulled from the food market and transferred to the plastic resin one?

I personally am nervous about these resins and the quick notoriety that they are getting. In the end these may end up to be the way to go, but I feel that we need to understand the costs and benefits for these resin substitutes better before we start waving the flag to promote as mainstream plastic alternatives. What do you think?

Posted May 28, 2009

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