The Pyramids Don’t Crumble

According to a recent article by the Smithsonian Magazine

http://www.smithsonianmagazine.com/issues/2006/august/pla.php?page=1

ahhh and here we have the flip side of what large companies using this silken sachet, AKA polylactic acid, PLA

This is another type of “bio-degradable” materials that some sachets are made of. Others are simply plastic.

This is a continuation of the “Great Pyramid Scam” I blogged about on 09/09/06

Excerpts from the article:

“PLA is said to decompose into carbon dioxide and water in a controlled composting environment in fewer than 90 days. What’s a controlled composting environment? Not your backyard bin, pit or tumbling barrel. It’s a large facility where compost acessentially, plant scraps being digested by microbes into fertilizer and reaches 140 degrees for ten consecutive days. So, yes, as PLA advocates say, corn plastic is biodegradable. But in reality very few consumers have access to the sort of composting facilities that can make that happen. ”

“Wal-Mart’s Kistler says the company isn’t about to take back used PLA for composting. We are not in the business of collecting garbage,he says. How do we get states and municipalities to set up composting systems? That is the million-dollar question. It’s not our role to tell government what to do.”

“Despite PLA’s potential as an environmentally friendly material, it seems clear that a great deal of corn packaging, probably the majority of it, will end up in landfills. And there’s no evidence it will break down there any faster or more thoroughly than PET or any other form of plastic. Glenn Johnston, manager of global regulatory affairs for NatureWorks, says that a PLA container dumped in a landfill will last as long as a PET bottle.No one knows for sure how long that is, but estimates range from 100 to 1,000 years.”

“Environmentalists have other objections to PLA. Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, questions the morality of turning a foodstuff into packaging when so many people in the world are hungry. Already we’re converting 12 percent of the U.S. grain harvest to ethanol, he says. The USDA projects that figure will rise to 23 percent by 2014. How much corn do we want to food do we want to convert to nonfood products?

“Martin Bourque, executive director of the Berkeley Ecology Center, a nonprofit recycling organization, holds a dim view of PLA convenience packaging. Yes, corn-based packaging is better than petroleum-based packaging for absolutely necessary plastics that aren’t already successfully recycled, and for packaging that cannot be made of paper, he says. But it’s not as good as asking, Why are we using so many containers? My worry is that PLA legitimizes single-serving, over-packaged products.

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