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[GreenYes] Biodegradable "Plastics" Distinction



David (and Mike):

I just wanted to clarify that there is a significant difference between
the (essentially two) categories of materials which are unfortunately
both referred to as "biodegradable plastic". One type (apparently the
one David has been working with) is a (petroleum based) plastic
material held together by a degradable polymer (usually some type of
starch). The plastic in these products does not "biodegrade". The
starch breaks down and the plastic is no longer held together, but it's
still plastic. The other type is truly biodegradable, made only of
organic materials, and will biodegrade completely into sugars and
starches.

I have seen some of these materials and how they compost in a
well-operated commercial composting facility. I am also aware of an
ASTM standard used to measure a material's ability to biodegrade (ASTM
D6400, etc).

While, in theory, I agree we should not encourage single-use
containers, utensils, etc, and we should encourage and promote the use
of durable goods. In the meantime however, is it better to put all of
the myriad plastics in the landfill or try to substitute them with
something that can be composted? (Some biodegradable plastics, like
those made from Natureworks PLA can be made to be very durable and
re-usable. I carried one of their very durable, corn-based cups around
a major out-of-town solid waste conference most of this week).

And while it may be interesting to conceive of a "bottle bill" for
packaging, let's remember how few states even have a "bottle bill" for
bottles (or cans). :> )

Matthew Cotton
Integrated Waste Management Consulting, LLC
19375 Lake City Road
Nevada City, CA 95959
(530) 265-4560
Fax (530) 265-4547
mattcotton@no.address

On Sep 21, 2006, at 1:42 PM, Mike Morin wrote:

>
>
>
> I agree with thee about the fallacy of "biodegradable plastics".
>
> Even if such existed, would it not leach into drinks.
>
> I disagree with regards to your advocacy of paper products as a
> replacement.
>
> Remember the mantra is reduce, reuse, recycle. In that order.
>
> People should be strongly encouraged to buy and carry reusable
> containers.
>
> Perhaps what we need is an extended "bottle bill" on all packaging to
> cover
> the external costs relative to disposal costs and health issues. Such
> a
> legislative package would discourage the use of current wasteful,
> short-sighted and special interest packaging and also reduce or
> eliminate
> the production and distribution of toxic substances such as alcohol,
> "soft
> drinks" (which could alternatively be used as ethanol?) Also
> legislation
> could be passed that encourages the standardization/simplification of
> packaging technologies (i.e. the front end) so that there is not such
> a
> myriad of rubbish (and garbage) to be processed for recycling and/or
> disposal.
>
> Which brings me to the issue of co-mingling. I have serious doubts
> about
> the
> effectiveness of such technology. Relative to source separation, such
> appears to be devolution foisted on a gullible and lazy and/or harried
> population.
>
> Although generally I favor an economic evolution rather than
> regulation and
> taxes, it appears that we have both a recalcitrant "private sector"
> and
> their lackey legislators and bureaucrats.
>
>
> Workin for peace and cooperation,
>
> Mike Morin
>
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "David Schellinger" <dschellinger@no.address>
>> To: "'US Composting Council Compost Discussion List'"
>> <compost@no.address>
>> Sent: Thursday, September 21, 2006 8:33 AM
>> Subject: Re: [USCC] Biosolids testing report
>>
>>
>>> U.S. COMPOSTING COUNCIL 15th ANNUAL CONFERENCE AND TRADESHOW
>>> Wyndham Orlando Resort | Orlando, FL | January 21-24, 2007
>>> The National forum for those involved in the development and
>>> expansion of
>>> the composting and organics recycling industry
>>> CONFERENCE PROGRAM, REGISTRATION FORMS, WORKSHOP AGENDAS,
>>> EXHIBITOR INFORMATION AND SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES ARE AVAILABLE AT
>>> THE
>>> USCC WEBSITE: www.compostingcouncil.org OR CALL THE USCC AT
>>> 631-737-4931
>>>
>>>
>>> Frank,
>>> I tend to dislike biodegradable plastics use in composting simply
>>> because
>>> it
>>> does not really eliminate the problem of plastics in the
>>> environment, but
>>> only disguises it. What your argument lacks is an explanation that
>>> exposes
>>> the product for what it really is. The term biodegradable plastic
>>> is a
>>> contradiction in terms that leads to a false impression about the
>>> true
>>> nature of the plastic. Biodegradable plastic is truly not
>>> biodegradable.
>>> The degradable components that link plastic strands can be degraded,
>>> but
>>> the
>>> plastic components still remain. The claim made by producers of
>>> biodegradable plastics is that heat and moisture and microbiological
>>> activity degrade the materials, but in my experience, UV light is
>>> required
>>> to degrade even the best biodegradable bags. I attempted composting
>>> biodegradable bags and found that the bags remained intact three
>>> months
>>> after being placed in the piles, and only when the composting
>>> materials
>>> were
>>> turned and the plastics exposed to the air and sunlight did I observe
>>> degradation. I guess the degradation in the environment does reduce
>>> the
>>> unsightly nature of the material which is at least some consolation.
>>>
>>> I remember when paper bags were the norm at grocery stores and paper
>>> or
>>> cardboard plates and cups were used at outdoor gatherings.
>>> Unfortunately,
>>> the paper and cardboard products did not have strength or durability
>>> and
>>> bags were often bulky. People were happy to see disposable plastic
>>> products
>>> that really did improve the quality of living for much of society.
>>> Now
>>> plastic materials are becoming a problem to society because they
>>> don't
>>> degrade very quickly, are unsightly when gathered along curbs,
>>> fences or
>>> shrubs, and can cause some ecological and environmental damage. To
>>> eliminate this problem, along comes an industry to produce so called
>>> biodegradable plastic materials (that truly do not eliminate the
>>> plastic
>>> components from the environment). Biodegradable plastics are much
>>> like
>>> an
>>> aspirin to a cold virus. The symptoms leave for a short period, but
>>> the
>>> virus remains.
>>>
>>> Wouldn't it be better to return to paper bags and cardboard
>>> containers
>>> rather than be concerned with trying to develop partially degradable
>>> plastics, complete with non-degradable components? Paper products
>>> can be
>>> made from a multitude of cellulosic materials that are in themselves
>>> potential wastes, and durability can be improved with modern
>>> biologically
>>> friendly organic adhesives.
>>>
>>> The biodegradability of a product does not ensure that the end
>>> products
>>> of
>>> that degradation are going to environmentally or ecologically
>>> friendly.
>>> Thus, biodegradable plastics only reduce a potential eye sore for
>>> society,
>>> but do not eliminate the input of potentially damaging plastic
>>> components
>>> to
>>> the environment. On the other hand, it would be silly to expect all
>>> products used by consumers to be 100% biodegradable, and the
>>> chemicals
>>> dumped down drains, even though not really environmentally friendly,
>>> are
>>> degradable, though often recalcitrant, and are usually only present
>>> in
>>> extremely low concentrations in feedstocks used for composting. When
>>> more
>>> environmentally acceptable materials are available (paper vs.
>>> plastic)
>>> use
>>> of organic instead of plastic or biodegradable plastics should be
>>> encouraged.
>>>
>>> Dave Schellinger
>>>
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: compost-bounces@no.address
>>> [mailto:compost-bounces@no.address]
>>> On Behalf Of frank
>>> Sent: Wednesday, September 20, 2006 11:32 AM
>>> To: US Composting Council Compost Discussion List
>>> Subject: Re: [USCC] Biosolids testing report
>>>
>>> U.S. COMPOSTING COUNCIL 15th ANNUAL CONFERENCE AND TRADESHOW
>>> Wyndham Orlando Resort | Orlando, FL | January 21-24, 2007
>>> The National forum for those involved in the development and
>>> expansion of
>>> the composting and organics recycling industry
>>> CONFERENCE PROGRAM, REGISTRATION FORMS, WORKSHOP AGENDAS,
>>> EXHIBITOR INFORMATION AND SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES ARE AVAILABLE AT
>>> THE
>>> USCC WEBSITE: www.compostingcouncil.org OR CALL THE USCC AT
>>> 631-737-4931
>>>
>>>
>>> Composters
>>>
>>> The Biodegradable Plastics Test is a first of its kind, as far as I
>>> know. Producers make a claim that it is biodegradable in the
>>> composting
>>> process and then a test is developed to prove if they are correct.
>>> Plastic is mostly harmless but because we see it and it looks bad we
>>> do
>>> not want it in the compost. There are many other things going down
>>> the
>>> drain that we do see nor do we know if it breaks down under normal
>>> composting conditions. Many of these compounds found in soaps etc. we
>>> can do without. I suggest if someone wants to manufacture a product
>>> that
>>> is likely to end up in the compost that every ingredient in that
>>> product
>>> go through a testing procedure like what the biodegradable plastic
>>> industry need to do. It may seem expensive but for each compound it
>>> only
>>> needs be tested once and is then but on the biodegradable list. If
>>> something is not on the list, or fails the test, then it should not
>>> be
>>> used or special considerations should be made before it is used.
>>> Medicines could be in this group or places where the use of
>>> antibiotic
>>> soaps are most important are a couple of examples.
>>>
>>> Frank
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> CAVM@no.address wrote:
>>>
>>>> U.S. COMPOSTING COUNCIL 15th ANNUAL CONFERENCE AND TRADESHOW
>>>> Wyndham Orlando Resort | Orlando, FL | January 21-24, 2007
>>>> The National forum for those involved in the development and
>>>> expansion of
>>> the composting and organics recycling industry
>>>> CONFERENCE PROGRAM, REGISTRATION FORMS, WORKSHOP AGENDAS,
>>>> EXHIBITOR INFORMATION AND SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES ARE AVAILABLE
>>>> AT THE
>>> USCC WEBSITE: www.compostingcouncil.org OR CALL THE USCC AT
>>> 631-737-4931
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> _http://pubs.acs.org/subscribe/journals/esthag-w/2006/sep/science/
>>>> nl_compos
>>> tin
>>>> g.html_
>>>> (http://pubs.acs.org/subscribe/journals/esthag-w/2006/sep/science/
>>>> nl_compos
>>> ting.html)
>>>>
>>>> Now that we have developed the ability to test for contaminants in
>>>> the
>>>> ppb
>>>
>>>> we can find nearly anything we are looking for at some
>>>> concentration.
>>>>
>>>> Neal Van Milligen
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> Compost maillist - Compost@no.address
>>>> http://mailman.cloudnet.com/mailman/listinfo/compost
>>>>
>>>> This list is a service provided by the US Composting Council.
>>>>
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Ongoing Sponsors of the USCC Discussion list are:
>>>>
>>>> Food Industry Environmental Network (FIEN), a regulatory and policy
>>>> e-mail
>>> alert service for environmental, food and agricultural industry
>>> professionals.
>>>> Contact Jack Cooper 301/384-8287 JLC@no.address --- www.fien.com
>>>>
>>>> Renewable Carbon Management, LLC with the containerized, in-vessel
>>> NaturTech Composting System www.composter.com rcm@no.address
>>>>
>>>> (c) Copyright 2006 United States - All rights reserved
>>>>
>>>> Members posting CC copies to the list and other addresses will have
>>>> their
>>> posting privelages suspended. No exceptions!
>>>>
>>>> Opinions expressed represent only the poster and are not
>>>> necessarily the
>>> opinion or policy of any organization.
>>>>
>>>> Non-members of USCC are encouraged to join the Council through our
>>>> website
>>> at: http://www.compostingcouncil.org/membership.cfm For
>>> discussion
>>> list
>>> policies and information regarding subscribing, unsubscribing,
>>> digest or
>>> other options, go
>>> to:http://mailman.cloudnet.com/mailman/listinfo/compost
>>>>
>>>> For additional help in unsubscribing or to report bugs and
>>>> problems, send
>>>> a
>>> message to the List Manager, Jim McNelly, at
>>> compost-owner@no.address
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>
>>> --
>>> Frank Shields
>>> Soil Control Lab
>>> 42 Hangar way
>>> Watsonville, CA 95076
>>> (831) 724-5422 tel
>>> (831) 724-3188 fax
>>> frank@no.address
>>> www.compostlab.com
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Compost maillist - Compost@no.address
>>> http://mailman.cloudnet.com/mailman/listinfo/compost
>>>
>>> This list is a service provided by the US Composting Council.
>>>
>>> _______________________________________________
>>>
>>>
>>> Ongoing Sponsors of the USCC Discussion list are:
>>>
>>> Food Industry Environmental Network (FIEN), a regulatory and policy
>>> e-mail
>>> alert service for environmental, food and agricultural industry
>>> professionals.
>>> Contact Jack Cooper 301/384-8287 JLC@no.address --- www.fien.com
>>>
>>> Renewable Carbon Management, LLC with the containerized, in-vessel
>>> NaturTech
>>> Composting System www.composter.com rcm@no.address
>>>
>>> (c) Copyright 2006 United States - All rights reserved
>>>
>>> Members posting CC copies to the list and other addresses will have
>>> their
>>> posting privelages suspended. No exceptions!
>>>
>>> Opinions expressed represent only the poster and are not necessarily
>>> the
>>> opinion or policy of any organization.
>>>
>>> Non-members of USCC are encouraged to join the Council through our
>>> website
>>> at: http://www.compostingcouncil.org/membership.cfm For
>>> discussion
>>> list
>>> policies and information regarding subscribing, unsubscribing,
>>> digest or
>>> other options, go
>>> to:http://mailman.cloudnet.com/mailman/listinfo/compost
>>>
>>> For additional help in unsubscribing or to report bugs and problems,
>>> send
>>> a
>>> message to the List Manager, Jim McNelly, at
>>> compost-owner@no.address
>>>
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Compost maillist - Compost@no.address
>>> http://mailman.cloudnet.com/mailman/listinfo/compost
>>>
>>> This list is a service provided by the US Composting Council.
>>>
>>> _______________________________________________
>>>
>>>
>>> Ongoing Sponsors of the USCC Discussion list are:
>>>
>>> Food Industry Environmental Network (FIEN), a regulatory and policy
>>> e-mail alert service for environmental, food and agricultural
>>> industry
>>> professionals.
>>> Contact Jack Cooper 301/384-8287 JLC@no.address --- www.fien.com
>>>
>>> Renewable Carbon Management, LLC with the containerized, in-vessel
>>> NaturTech Composting System www.composter.com rcm@no.address
>>>
>>> (c) Copyright 2006 United States - All rights reserved
>>>
>>> Members posting CC copies to the list and other addresses will have
>>> their
>>> posting privelages suspended. No exceptions!
>>>
>>> Opinions expressed represent only the poster and are not necessarily
>>> the
>>> opinion or policy of any organization.
>>>
>>> Non-members of USCC are encouraged to join the Council through our
>>> website at: http://www.compostingcouncil.org/membership.cfm For
>>> discussion list policies and information regarding subscribing,
>>> unsubscribing, digest or other options, go
>>> to:http://mailman.cloudnet.com/mailman/listinfo/compost
>>>
>>> For additional help in unsubscribing or to report bugs and problems,
>>> send
>>> a message to the List Manager, Jim McNelly, at
>>> compost-owner@no.address
>>>
>>
>
>
>
> >


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