So the article on the front page today made me start to think about this question. I am starting to see more and more push for PLA and other Bio-plastics. The claims are that they will decompose and break down in a compatible environment. They can be created using renewable resources like corn and are much better for our planet.
We all have heard these claims and I am sure that these claims have been brought into other areas of design as well. My question for this discussion is how much of this is actually feasible? Also how is this going to change the way we design packaging in the future? There are a few issue I see with this, I will include two but leave the floor open for others to contribute.
The first is the claim of being biodegradable. While it is true that these packages will break down in a compost environment, It is not true that these compost streams are widely available and they will not breakdown in a landfill. Because of this they are then put in a plastic recycling stream and have to be sorted out at the plant. So instead of saving the environment it is causing more waste.
The second is that most of the products that these materials are being suggested for use are flexible. Meaning that they are bags, shrink wraps, etc… These products currently do not get recycled because of the fact that they are made of so many different types of material. I can see this being an opportunity for this habit to change but what is it that the manufacturing companies are going to do to make that work. I would think the first would be to educate the consumer that flexible packaging can be recycled just like rigid plastic.
Just thought I would put this topic up and thought it would be a great discussion. Let me know what your thoughts.