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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Is Plastic Really Kin to the Devil?!

Over the past years plastic has garnered quite the reputation, somewhat akin to the Devil in material form.  Is the bad rap justified or is plastic the scapegoat for irresponsible human behavior?
Spring, 2011 Issue

In the Spring Issue of Ode, For Intelligent Optimists, this very topic is explored in the article, Plastic Fantastic, by author Andrew Tolve.   The article focuses on companies with invested technologies that recycle used plastic back into product as pure as virgin plastic as well as plant-based bioplastics. 

According to Anthony Zolezzi, co-founder of Greenopolis and the GreenOps Recycling Systems "We should be celebrating plastic.  It's how we abuse it and don't re-use it that's a problem.  Plastic is an amazing ingredient that we should look at as precious material, no different than gold."
Michael Biddle
Is plastic really a valuable resource the equivalent of gold?   Mike Biddle, president and co-founder of MBA Polymers, seems to agree:  "Plastics are the last frontier in terms of major material categories to be re-used."  MBA Polymers has three factories globally (California, China & Austria) with a technology suite that spins plastic into MBA's version of gold.  The system separates, sterilizes, melts, pelletizes and remolds recovered plastics from shredded electronics, computers and cars into a product as pure as virgin plastic.  No other additives are required for further production.  ADDED VALUE:  The MBA Polymers process consumes only 5 to 10% of the energy required to produce virgin plastic.

Steve Davies
Not all plastics are petroleum based.  NatureWorks' Director of Marketing, Steve Davies explains the process of making their bioplastic resin Ingeo.  According to Steve, "Anything that can be made out of plastic, people are interested in making out of bioplastic."  NatureWorks uses the sugar in plants to make Ingeo which in turn is the basis for personal care, home, garden, electronics, appliances and fresh food packaging products.

Author Andrew Tolve concludes, "With the right combination of recycling, re-use and innovation, plastic could soon become a renewable source."  

Hmmmm.... is it time to stop the blame game?  From the article it sounds like responsible human behavior would keep plastic out of our oceans and back into an economically viable production cycle.

1 comment:

  1. Ocean plastic pollution is not the only problem with plastic. Recycling does not solve the problem of toxic chemicals that can and do leach out of plastics. What's more, recycling does not address the issue of pre-production plastic pollution, nor does it save energy when you compare recycling plastic to reducing the amount of single use disposable plastic products created in the first place (which at this point, recycling does not solve because plastics are generally downcycled into secondary products rather than closing the loop.) In my book Plastic-Free, I have a chapter called "Why Can't We Just Recycle It All?" The drawbacks to recycling as the solution to the plastic problem are spelled out in detail.