waste

Infographic: the trouble with bioplastic

A couple of weeks ago I posted an infographic from Surfrider Foundation Europe, all about plastic pollution and how recycling is only a limited solution. It got a good response, and so here is the second in their series. This time the subject is bioplastics, a slippery idea that also has very real limits to its usefulness.

Bioplastics and recycling should not be rejected out of hand, but neither of them can deal with the sheer scale of plastic pollution. There is no substitute for reducing our dependence on plastic, curbing the power of the fossil fuel companies that promote it.

As these graphics are from Surfrider, the focus is on marine pollution. As Tearfund have highlighted, plastic is also a climate change problem, and it is a social justice problem.

3 comments

  1. This is good information but the context is a bit limited by failing to note some of the same fallacies apply to non-plastics alternatives, like mushroom-based packaging, wool fiber packaging, and other new material formulations. The context is important so our society can begin employing more critical thinking focused on on net environment improvements. And, it may be more accurate to portray the development of “bio” plastics as a move in the right direction – as it would be impossible to move from ground zero to perfect without having to tolerate a progressive improvement cycle – rather than portraying the plastics industry motivations as being intentionally deceptive. For example, manufacturers of non-plastics materials making compostability claims could be subject to the same interpretation since there are very few composting facilities available for commercial waste streams, and even less for residential waste.

    1. You’re right, and a broader analysis of materials would be able to explore the limits of those alternatives. I would also see bio-plastics as part of a healthy evolution of the plastics industry, and not something to dismiss out of hand.

      What troubles campaigners, and the data bears this out, is that a lot of people have seen bioplastics as an easy answer. And as you demonstrate, there are no easy answers!

  2. This is really appreciated that you have presented this data over here, I love all the information shared. It will be very helpful to understand the infographic the trouble with bioplastic. Great post to share!! Come across Infographicgallery.com and hope you can visit this too to get more information.

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