The Environmental Impact of Corn-Based Plastics

By: 

This Scientific American article explores the purported benefits of corn-based plastics (also known as polylactic acid, or PLA) over the more conventional petroleum-based plastic.  The results may surprise you.

Although PLA is technically renewable, saves oil, and is less polluting to manufacture, its biodegradability is far from perfect.  It's also a headache for recyclers because PLA "contaminates" the conventional plastic recycling process.  The two must be separated, leading to higher costs for recycled plastic and lower overall demand.

Some experts have also suggested that the marketing of PLA as "green" plastic has led to rampant overpackaging and a proliferation of single-serving plastic containers.

A related 2006 Smithsonian Magazine article can be found here.

Original Article

Topic: 

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <div> <br> <sup> <sub>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Refresh Type the characters you see in this picture. Type the characters you see in the picture; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.  Switch to audio verification.