Plastic: The Elephant in the Zero Waste Economy Room
Plastic is a damaging substance to the environment. Often derived from fossil fuels such as gas, oil, and coal, it is estimated that most of our discarded plastic ends up in the ocean. By 2050, it is believed there will be more plastic in our seas than fish. So what are we doing to bring about this end of this environmentally damaging substance?
Despite recycling initiatives eight million tons of plastic winds up in the sea. This shows that despite our good intentions at controlling waste, in terms of what we are throwing away, it simply isn’t working. So what’s next?
To some degree, the answer is to change plastic packaging to make it biodegradable, possibly even edible. Some companies such as Taup have developed packaging that is biodegradable. Working in conjunction with another company called Tipa, the packaging on their fruit snacks takes six months to breakdown. Tipa has also developed bags which take 3 months to biodegrade. This kind of progress, however, is rare.
Other manufacturers who have tried to make more environmentally sound plastics have come under fire. The UN’s Chief Scientist, Jacqueline McGlade, described biodegradable plastics as well intentioned but wrong. This is because many were not degrading in our oceans and as such were posing just as much harm as conventional plastic. The same biodegradable properties were found in oxo-degradable plastics too. In fact, oxo-degradable plastics were found to be highly dangerous to life in our seas.
There has been some research with edible packaging made form milk protein casein. The product is patent pending at the moment so won’t see the light day for some time.
Despite our progress at developing renewable energy, reusing materials, and even mining waste to collect valuable resources, plastic remains the elephant in the zero waste economy room. Right now, there is no clear solution to the plastic problem, and that is very concerning.
Source: The Guardian