Part 3 - Alternative Plastics and some of the issues
Alternative plastics are not the best solution we all hope, but it's harder to make better choices if we don't have a full grasp of the issues and options available to us. I hope this helps shed some light on the alternatives we are seeing more of.
While it might be easy to assume (and hope) that the 'I AM NOT PLASTIC' straw will cause no harm to the environment, it isn't as simple as that.
UNDERSTANDING THE TERMS
Made from plant or other biological material instead of petroleum. but can also contain a mix of materials - typically require industrial facilities to decompose.
- Biodegradable plastics
made from traditional petrochemicals, which are engineered to break down more quickly - might take decades or centuries to break down and can leave toxic residue.
SOME OF THE ISSUES…
When some biodegradable plastics decompose in landfills, they produce methane gas. Biodegradable plastics and bioplastics often are energy intensive to produce, not easily recyclable and or require industrial composting in order to decompose completely, and in some conditions, can still take many years to break down. Even then, they may leave behind micro-fragments or toxic residues.
Bioplastics are made from plants such as corn and maize, so land that could be used to grow food for the world is being used to "grow plastic" instead. Bioplastics and biodegradable plastics cannot be easily recycled.
These 'eco' plastics can end up misleading consumers and give a false sense of 'ECO security' (also known as greenwashing), + further encourage a disposable culture.
While these products are becoming more available the infrastructure for their correct disposal is not. Alternative plastic is not the answer to the plastic crisis - reducing reliance on single-use plastic is.
PLUS, when these plastic gets washed into rivers, oceans and into nature, they still destroy natural habitats and wildlife still mistake them for food.
OTHER ‘ECO’ MATERIALS
e.g Bamboo | Rice Husk
Typically found in reusable coffee cups, lunch boxes, dishes. It is worth doing your research on such products as many reusable bamboo items do not disclose clearly the fact that they are made from a finely ground powder that is then glued together. Many of these glues/resins are toxic to the human body and are not safe when exposed to high temperature like repeated use with hot drinks or being microwaved!
DO YOUR RESEARCH OR THE SAFEST BET IS TO STICK TO GLASS AND STAINLESS STEEL.