Why not use the kind of plastic that simply rots?



Today I bought chocolate. The packaging says that the plastic rots. Why isn’t this kind used for everything?

In: Chemistry

Biodegradable plastic is usually made from a plant base. So, it takes a different type of energy and industrial base to produce, and most factories are built to make oil-based plastic products. It is just a costlier investment upfront to switch or build factories that make biodegradable plastics. Plus you gotta increase your crop production to farm enough plant product to make the biodegradable stuff.

There are other disadvantages – pesticides used on the plants can find their way in the end product, which is obviously not healthy for animal consumption. If it gets mixed in with traditional or bioplastics, it can make it difficult to recycle them or separate them so we can end up with more waste. It still produces methane while decomposing in landfills which is also harmful to the atmosphere just like carbon dioxide is. It isn’t always going to break down easily in the ocean, so it’s not a guaranteed way to solve plastic pollution there.

Might still be better than traditional plastic, but it’s ultimately best to just get rid of plastics as much as possible to begin with.

It’s not really plastic, it’s a plastic like starch. It’s quite expensive and much less durable that petroleum plastic. Chocolate is a pretty stable product, for years it’s been sold in foil packaging that’s not even air tight. Most foods would go bad quickly without air-tight packaging.

It’s worse for the environment than just using oil based plastics, which also rot if exposed to the elements. I’m reminded of how legislation was passed a while back mandating a bunch of cardboard be made from a particular plant that grows in Madagascar. This plant made cardboard easy to recycle. So the Madagascans bulldozed 75% of their rainforests putting countless species to extinction so they could farm this 1 plant. Meanwhile nobody really recycles much cardboard anyway so it was all for nothing.