Sunday, June 12, 2011

green corporate ethics?

Here's a very interesting new article from method co-founder Adam Lowry, writing for, concerning so called "green plastics" and how they might just not be as green as they want you to believe (No! From the plastics industry!? I'm shocked... wink.)

"Corporate ethics is one of the most critical components of the green tech revolution today. The foundation of sustainable product design is innovation in base materials, novel new green chemistries that replace dirty ones, better building materials that don't pollute or off-gas, and novel new plastics that are compatible with the environment. However, there is a concerning trend emerging of material innovation half-measures that create wonderful marketing claims for their producers, but no significant environmental benefit.

Nowhere is this trend more evident than in the world of plastics. In an effort to improve upon the dismal environmental fate of most plastics that end up in our landfills, gutters, or oceans, an enormous amount of energy has been focused on creating biodegradable, plant based, or somehow greener plastics ... These new technologies are exciting and necessary. However, new findings are emerging that shed light on the fact that eliminating the unwanted consequences of plastic use and fundamentally reinventing the plastics that pervade our daily lives is harder than it looks.

A new study published recently in Environmental Science & Technology shows that the class of plastics known as oxo-degradable plastics, may not be as green as they seem. Oxo-degradable plastics are regular polyethylene (PE, or "#2") or polypropylene (PP, or "#5") plastics that contain special additives that cause them to degrade when exposed to sunlight or heat. The promise is appealing—plastics just like the ones we use everyday, without any of the nasty side effects. But this new study shows that instead of actually degrading the plastic, these additives simply break the plastic down into particles too small for us to see, making it potentially more dangerous by mobilizing into our soil and water small particles of plastic that can absorb pollutants and other chemicals..."

Read the entire article here!

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