Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Are biodegradable plastics a good alternative?

Biodegradable plastic is not a win – yet. Most biodegradable plastics sold as cups, plates, and utensils are made from some compostable material mixed with PLA (polylactic acid) – a durable plant-based plastic polymer made from corn starch or sugar cane. It is biodegradable, but only under certain high-heat conditions found at industrial-grade composting facilities that don’t exist in the Sarasota-Manatee area. If you throw that PLA cup or fork in the trash or your compost bin, where it will never be exposed to conditions that trigger biodegradation, it will sit there for decades or centuries, much like ordinary plastic. A new generation of bioplastics composed of PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate) made from canola oil are biodegradable in marine water and soil, and thus can be certified as home compostable . Because they break down so easily, PHA products are limited to plastic bags, wraps, and straws. Browse our Amazon Idea List for examples of home compostable plastic products. Although bioplastics avoid the use of fossil fuels, they are not a solution for the waste piling up from single-use plastics.

 

Learn More