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[GreenYes] Re: FW: [GreenYes] Re: Can you feed the stuff to the fish?


Great points, especially the issue of how bioplastic bottles "play" in a
deposit state.

Pat Franklin... What do you think?


-----Original Message-----
From: GreenYes@no.address [mailto:GreenYes@no.address] On Behalf
Of Diane Rosenkranz
Sent: Monday, November 06, 2006 12:05 PM
To: GreenYes@no.address
Subject: [GreenYes] FW: [GreenYes] Re: Can you feed the stuff to the fish?

We have a water bottling business here in Kauai that is about to introduce
water bottles that are bio-based plastics. The owners told me they plan to
set special containers out at supermarkets to capture the bottles and then
send them to a commercial composting site.

On Kauai, recycling is a new concept and at least half, if not more, of the
population does not currently segregate their recyclables from waste, let
alone compost. It is not part of the collective consciousness yet. I have
concerns that the general population will either throw the bottles in the
trash, segregate them into their #1 & #2 plastic recyclables, or try to home
compost them.

1) Some businesses have asked me "isn't bio-plastics a better option than
petroleum based plastics even if they end up in the landfill because they
have more of a chance to break down?" Some are also contesting that the
production of bio-based plastics is less harmful than petroleum based
plastics. What are the environmental costs associated with the production of
bio-based plastics and is it better to instead recycle plastics #1 & #2.

2) The bottling company said that a small percentage may be captured with
plastics #1 & #2 but said that it would not contaminate the load. They have
not checked in with the only recycling processor on the island and thus do
not really know how these bottles will affect contamination. Contamination
is already a problem here on Kauai. What percentage of bio-plastics could be
captured with plastics #1 & #2 and not be considered a major contamination

3) The reality on Kauai is that recycling is not convenient for residents or
visitors. Curbside is not available and people must take their recyclables
to a community drop off bin. The water bottling company is proposing that
people will now go the extra mile to segregate bio-plastics from the
remainder of the recyclables and take it to their drop off bins which are
not going to be anywhere near the community drop off bins. This seems that
they are putting the cart before the horse. Kauai has not set up adequate
recycling infrastructure to support this type of bottles.

4) We have a bottle bill on the island with local redemption centers. The
bill is a little less than 2 years old and we are just getting the general
public educated on what is considered redeemable vs. recyclable. I am
concerned that the inclusion of these bottles will confuse people and that
many will think they can redeem these bottles and this could put a kink in
our efforts to inform people about what is in and out for redeemables.

Does anyone have feedback regarding these issues? I am concerned that these
bio-plastics could be more problematic than they are worth.


Diane Rosenkranz
Recycling Specialist
County of Kauai
(808) 241-5112 ph
(808) 241-6892 fax

-----Original Message-----
From: GreenYes@no.address [mailto:GreenYes@no.address] On Behalf
Of Peter Spendelow
Sent: Monday, November 06, 2006 7:53 AM
To: GreenYes
Subject: [GreenYes] Re: Can you feed the stuff to the fish?

I just wanted to clarify that bio-based, biodegradable plastics are not
really a zero-waste solution. They still involve a lot of waste. In some
specific instances, bio-based plastics may be the best option to serve a
particular need, but in other cases they are not.

Remember that when you compost bio-based plastics, you lose all of the
energy and material inputs, including lots of petroleum used as fuel to make
the fertilizers and grow the crops, and you don't even get any good humus
out of them. Bio-based plastics like PLA break down entirely to carbon
dioxide and water, and they do not have any lignins or other complex organic
molecules which are needed to make humus.

A number of non-profit groups including EcoCycle (and Eric has already
commented on this thread) are actively point that out now concerning PLA
being used to make water bottles. Recycling or reusing PLA bottles has
substantial potential for resource savings. Composting PLA bottles does
not, and in fact could be considered 100% waste instead of zero-waste.

Even for cutlery, bio-based plastics are generally not considered the best
solution. Reusable cutlery, such as metal forks and spoons, are much more
"zero waste" as long as you can recapture and re-use a high proportion of
the cutlery. It is only when it is impractical to recapture the cutlery for
reuse that a compostable cutlery might be considered the next-best option.
They may be better than traditional plastic cutlery made from polystyrene.
But they is not zero waste....

Peter Spendelow
Justin Stockdale wrote:

... Is no one concerned that these plastics stand to sanctify the production
of gmo's as environmentally preferable simply because they fit nicely into
the zero waste framework?

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