Is plastic ever really biodegradable

Why is this important? The plastic pollution highlighted by the Blue Planet TV Program is plastic that was not recycled or incinerated or put in landfill. If it had been it would not be in the oceans. It’s litter. The same applies to litter in Britain. I believe that the only solution it to make sure that packaging is fully biodegradable. But that leads to problem of what to we mean by biodegradable. There is a lot of Greenwash in this area.

Let’s start with a definition.

Biodegradable: capable of being broken down especially into innocuous products by the action of living things such as microorganisms[1]

The problem is that capable does not mean it will breakdown. To quote Jacqueline McGlade, chief scientist at the UN Environment Programme. “It’s well-intentioned but wrong. A lot of plastics labelled biodegradable, like shopping bags, will only break down in temperatures of 50C and that is not the ocean. They are also not buoyant, so they’re going to sink, so they’re not going to be exposed to UV and break down”[2]

If they need to get to 50oC that will also not happen in the British countryside, not even this Year.

Is compostable an alternative term? Again, this may only work at temperatures above ambient. So, I think compostable can be as misleading as biodegradable.

So, what is the alternative. The best solution is to eliminate single use packaging. But this is utopian. So what alternatives are there.

For some uses paper bags are a good solution. Where paper bags do not work there are alternatives which claim to work but the question I ask is do they breakdown in the environment be that the ocean or the countryside, or even the city.   These alternatives include cellophane and “plastic” made from corn or potato starch.

Searching the web finds lots of products but are they really the solution. I do not know. The term “Home Compostable” look promising but I fear it could become greenwash.

Greenpeace have a useful video here on plastic packaging.

For the more technically minded one informative link is The truth about bioplastics by Renee Cho, Earth Institute, Columbia University  from Phys.org

Ian Caldwell

 

FINDING STRENGTH – INSPIRATION IN CHALLENGING TIMES

Saturday  1st February  9.30 am to 4.30pm.

Venue: The Fold. Bransford. Worcester  

Finding Strength front 1st feb 2014 email version Finding Strength back 1st Feb 2014 email version

 

 

 

 

 

 

A powerful one day workshop to reflect on what’s really important  for you to live a more satisfying life.   

By the end of the day you will feel clear to make changes and decisions that truly support who you are.  

Whilst farming the delightful land around here for around 40 years I have become increasingly concerned for the state of our wonderful earth. We live on this amazing planet and yet whilst science tells us that business as usual is not an option, society as a whole often seems like rabbits caught in headlights unable to act or change.

This work brings us into contact with what we are truly grateful for and what we most struggle with. Bringing these polarities into consciousness clarifies our perspective and from this new place we can make more powerful decisions. And whilst we come to terms with learning to live with uncertainty we see a far more positive possible outcome.

Cost: £60.00,  £40.00 or £20.00 subject to income including lunch

Early booking recommended.  Pre-booking essential – please contact  Kirsti on  T 01823 662934    M 07798 67 67 96

For more information see:-

https://www.facebook.com/strengthinchallengingtimes

www.facilitationforlifeonearth.org

http://www.joannamacy.net/   –  This powerful workshop is based on Joanna Macy’s life affirming ‘Work That Reconnects’, a tried and tested approach for exploring our lives in relation to the state of our world.

Dream of living in an eco-friendly house?

Do you have a dream of living in an environmentally-friendly house?
Perhaps you would like to be involved in designing and building your own eco home?  Are you interested in buying some land and working together with a group of people who also have this dream?

There are a few of us who have met through Transition Malvern Hills who share a dream of living simply and sustainably, leaving a small footprint on the Earth.  If you also have this dream, I would like to hear from you.  Please email Jan at [sf_email]greenleafjan@gmail.com[/sf_email]

Composting toilets – any interest in bulk buy?

From Guy Tomlinson:

I came across composting toilets at Grand Designs Live & soon as I can afford it, am looking to purchase a Separett Villa for all the ecological reasons. I wondered if other people in the Transition movement might also be interested in purchasing one for the same reasons?

If a few of us were interested, I’m sure I could negotiate a good discount ~ maybe 10% (or more depending on how many were being ordered) plus free delivery (if they were being delivered to one collection point in Malvern?).

If this is of any interest or you would like more information please contact Guy on 07986 102 404 by 30th November.