Bio-plastics: Read the Fine Print
While Bio-plastics are a step in the right direction, they’re not always necessarily “great” for the environment. For one thing, there are several different varieties, and the rules and regulations of what constitutes a “Bio” plastic as opposed to a regular “Petro” plastic vary greatly. Lesley McClurg, a Food and Sustainability Reporter, stresses how important it is to read the fine print on bio-plastics. Some say that they are “compostable,” but only in industrial composting facilities. In other words, don’t be fooled into thinking they will biodegrade with the soil in your backyard. They will, but only after a couple hundred years or so.
According to europeanbioplastics.org, “Biobased does not equal Biodegradable.” Biobased products are only partly derived from plant matter, but they still contain petrochemicals as well. They break down faster than purely petro-based plastics will, but it doesn’t mean they are just going to disappear and wisp away into the wind. Not to mention the fact that most bio-plastics emit methane gas after they are in the landfills, which can actually be worse for the environment than normal plastics.
So the key is to be aware of the alluring term “Bio-plastics” and know that there are environmental repercussions to their usage as well. Just because something says “compostable” doesn’t always mean it’s going to get composted. The best practice would be, of course, to bring your own silverware and containers. The less you’re contributing to anything having to be produced, whether petro-based or bio-based, the better job you’re doing of not contributing to the problem of plastics.