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RE: [greenyes] Plastic from corn?

We distribute corn-based utensils to local fairs and festivals that are
aiming for Zero Waste, and they are very useful in these situations.

I have been made aware that PLA breaks down under heated compost piles
but doesn't break down so well in oceanlike conditions -- a growing
concern of mine. The planet is mostly water and according to the
Algalita Marine Research folks, 80% of the plastic debris out in the
ocean is from land-based sources.

I am also concerned by the GMO corn used for these products and wonder
about the viability/sustainability of turning all our plastics into
bio-based plastic. I don't think anyone has really looked at what this
would mean. I have a difficult time thinking about using corn for
disposable (albeit compostable) containers when people are starving. I
guess it's not any worse than we do now -- feed cows with corn when
people are starving...

Linda Smith
Community Outreach Manager

P.S. Donate your car, truck, boat or RV to Eco-Cycle. Get the details

-----Original Message-----
From: Timothy Logan [mailto:timothyjwlogan@no.address]
Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 2004 12:38 PM
To: GRRNlistserve
Subject: Re: [greenyes] Plastic from corn?

In Reaching for Zero: The Citizens' Plan for Zero Waste in NYC released
in June of this year the
NYC Zero Waste Campaign took a look at the issue as it was raised by one
of the participating organizations known as Pop Sustainability . The Campaign was generally supportive of
the technology with specific reservations about the GMO factor. To the
best of our knowledge GMO corn is only used because the manufacturer is
otherwise heavily involved in GMO corn - nothing led us to believe that
corn-based plastics had to use GMO corn. The issue for this listserve
is not whether we've addressed our use of petroleum and the larger
sustainable energy issues, but rather whether we've reduced waste. By
supporting a change in packaging to corn-based plastics and the
subsequent need for organic decomposition programs, I think this
technology could help us make great strives toward capturing the much
broader organics
recovery issue and encourage those on this listserve to consider your
nuanced support for this technology.

Timothy J.W. Logan
Lead Organizer for the NYC Zero Waste Campaign

Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2004 10:00:28 -0700
To: Matthew Cotton <mattcotton@no.address>
From: Anne Peters <annep@no.address>
CC: Pat Franklin <pfranklin@no.address>, D Hughes
<djhughes@no.address>, Jenny Gitlitz <jenny.gitlitz@no.address>,
"Maine, Bruce" <Bruce.Maine@no.address>, greenyes <greenyes@no.address>
Subject: Re: [greenyes] Plastic from corn?
Message-ID: <41ACA72C.6080207@no.address>

Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit

Matthew, a cynic might say the point of bio-based plastics is to make
big bucks for the big corporations who manufacture them, not to
Also, as markets for tradable renewable/greenhouse gas reduction
credits evolve worldwide, there's probably discussion that companies
substituting bio sources for non-renewable sources for plastic
manufacture will own the credits that accrue from that bioplastic,
adding to its value.

Once again, we do have a manufacturer not really too concerned about
end-of-life issues for the products, I note. Without stronger producer
responsibilty laws, stuff like PLA plastics will be a headache for
recyclers & composters and not for the companies who profit from

USCC has a session on biobased plastics at its upcoming conference
next year. Anyone on this list who attends - if you can, please report
out on the discussion there!

Can't remember if these factoids have been mentioned on this thread;
here are some interesting dimensions to this issue:
-- <5% of GMO (genetically modified organisms) corn goes to PLA made by
C-D right now. However, use of GMO for bioplastics and
generation is one use some think may be acceptable (as opposed to food
uses of GMO seeds). However, cross-contamination of crops from GMO to
non-GMO is a concern. Apparently 70% of the soy in the US is GMO and no
one can certify (except probably organically grown) that soy in food
products isn't GMO.
-- I believe only about 7% of the world's petroleum goes to plastics
right now, so replacement of petro-derived plastics with bio-derived
plastics isn't going to get us off non-renewable sources right away -
tho every step helps on that front.

Anne Peters
Gracestone, Inc.
Boulder, CO
303.494.4934 vox
303.494.4880 fax

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