The automotive industry may account for the largest fraction of modern society’s pervasive oil use. However, the constant back and forth over fossil fuels and their alternatives makes it easy to forget about another major factor in our oil dependency: plastic. The versatility and convenience of this miracle product is undeniable, but the bottom line is that its synthesis requires oil, and therefore, it perpetuates our mass addiction.
Enter bioplastics. These non-toxic and eco-friendly polymers made from the biomass of organic materials like felled trees are now revolutionizing the production of everyday items like shopping bags, fishing nets and disposable cutlery. These plastics biodegrade much faster, and the manufacturing process only requires about half of the energy needed to produce oil-based plastics. Furthermore, the production methods of bioplastics emit zero greenhouse gases when compared with the production methods of their fossil-fuel counterparts.
The environmental benefits don’t stop there. According to Ecofriend.com, “After being discarded these bioplastics are molded into water and organic content that mingles in the soil and makes it healthier.”
With our global laundry list of environmental concerns and the shrinking oil supply, bioplastics seem like a no-brainer. Only a handful of issues stand in the way of widespread implementation including disposal issues, lack of production facilities and a lack of composting centers. However, these roadblocks would most certainly disappear if the masses got behindbioplasticsand lobbied for their use on a much larger scale.