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  • http://elephantjournal.com Waylon Lewis

    Uh, and they’re GMO corn. A trojan horse. Not green at all, imo.

  • http://www.ecoramblings.com Luke

    The claims in this article are, plain and simple, inaccurate. PLA/bioplastics do not impact corn prices. I am involved in the industry and have seen the data. Stating otherwise is untrue. Also, bioplastics are not causing an issue in the recycling issue as of now because there isn’t enough in the recycling stream. I’m involved in recycling industry trade associations and know this first hand. Don’t make bioplastics out to be bad when they actually save resources, emit fewer greenhouse gases , and have a significantly better life cycle and carbon footprint than conventional products.

    • http://www.ecoramblings.com Luke

      Contact me at http://www.ecoramblings.com if you want more info/details as to why bioplastics are good.

    • http://glueandglitter.com/ Becky Striepe

      Luke, I have to disagree with you here. My concerns regarding the impact on the food supply and the recycling stream are based on these products taking off. You’re right – they’re not huge problems at the moment because bioplastics are not widely used. Yet.

      As we need more and more corn to produce more and more corn cups, we’ll be diverting more and more from the food supply. We’ve seen what happens with that when we look at first gen biofuels.

      Concerns about bioplastics’ effect on recycling, as I stated in the article, will grow as more and more of these materials enter the waste stream.

      I did give a nod to bioplastics’ upsides at the end of the post, but I’m not sure they’re much better than plastics made from fossil fuels. Ideally, no plastic would be fantastic.

      • http://www.ecoramblings.com Luke

        Becky, I’m happy to discuss this directly with you if you’d like.

        Cups (made from bioplastics or oil-based plastics) are not accepted into 99% of the recycling facilities in America. They are a contaminant and pulled from the recyclers’ lines. So, it doesn’t matter if the cup is made from PLA or PET, it won’t be recycled when it actually goes through the recycling facility, even if a consumer puts it in the blue bin. Since you claim that bioplastic cups are a contaminant, you are correct. However, conventional plastic cups are also contaminants and have no possibility for landfill diversion whereas bioplastics at least have the possibility if composting is in your area. Bottles are really the only shape of product accepted in 99% of recyclers, and PLA is not made into bottles except in close-looped locations with composting. I invite you to join me at the Plastic Recyclers Conference in Austin next week.

        Relating to corn prices, PLA (when at full capacity for all bioplastic plants in the world) would only use .001% of the world’s corn supply. That isn’t going to happen anytime in the next several decades or longer. Also, the corn used is feedstock corn, not the corn you eat on your table. I realize feedstock corn competes for farmland table corn, but there are more macroeconomic issues that affect price – value of the dollar (corn exports are the #2 channel for corn sales), 3rd world demands, demand for soybeans and other crops, price of oil, and the list goes on. The US produced more corn last year on 7M fewer acres and all the corn still wasn’t sold.

        Lastly, PLA emits 53% fewer greenhouse gases during production than PET. You can’t say that isn’t a better carbon footprint

      • Chris

        Becky, Recent studies by the IfBB in Germany have shown that the hypothetical replacement of the production of all fossil-fuel based plastics with renewable plastics like PLA or bio-based PET, and also including the production other bio-based materials like natural rubber and cellulose, would only require 5-7% of the global arable land. Does this really compete with food resources? Check the numbers before making claims.

  • http://www.etundra.com Corn Cups

    I agree with the points Luke made… Although I think it is important to understand that PLA corn cups are not a panacea that can solve all our problems. That said, they are certainly a step in the right direction.

  • http://www.cstonebiodegradables.com Carin

    Hi Becky,

    I like the article, but I agree with Luke where you are incorrect about topic of corn and our food supply. I work with a bioplastics company, partnered with Cereplast, and we have asked him the question of whether or not food supply is effected in an interview you can find in the press section of our website. Corn is overproduced and we do not use the edible form of it anyway…as Luke stated.

    It may be of interest to you to look into companies capitalizing off PLA waste, like BioCor. As the bioplastics industry expands so will handling the waste. Essentially, we could reuse bioplastics over and over if commercial composting facilities were more abundant and easy to access….Seattle and San Fran are ahead of most cities here…

  • http://www.cstonebiodegradables.com Carin

    Sorry, I meant to say we have asked Frederic Scheer, the CEO of Cereplast and founder of the Biodegradable Products Institute, the question about corn…

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  • TheSleeperHasAwakened

    I’m all for sustainable, but why does everyone always seem to overlook PAPER!

    Paper has always been natural and sustainable, not to mention biodegardable as well as recyclable.  And paper would not have any impact on food prices.


  • Esteban

    Luke, how do corn PLA materials compare with traditional plastics in CO2 emissions and energy if the agricultural resources exhausted to grow corn are included? World Centric posted data that corn PLA is about half the energy but they are missing a very important aspect of the supply chain: growing the corn.