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Biodegradable Plastics Are Adding to Landfill Methane Emissions

The merits of biodegradable plastics have been uncertain, but a new study that appears in the journal Environmental Science & Technology says that though these types of plastics aren't littering the ocean or clogging landfills, they are contributing to climate change in the last phase of their life cycle.

When the biodegradable utensils and other plastics get to the landfill, microbes break them down and produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas.  While many other items in landfills create methane as well, these plastics are adding to the load.  Some landfills have systems that capture the methane and use it for energy, but most landfills don't.

So while these plastics are free of petroleum and biodegrade instead of existing forever, their life-cycle impact isn't negligible.  Is it still better than the it's cool 5 mg viagra regular plastic disposables?  Yes, but this just further illustrates that it's best to viagra in canada skip disposable utensils and cups and go for the reusable stuff.

via Scientific American

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Comments (19)Add Comment
Throwing things out and burying them
written by Tem, June 11, 2011
Throwing things away is the issue, burying them is another issue. Not so long ago someone dreamed up the "throw-it-away" society and "planned obsolescence".
The energy and try it pfizer viagra uk by-product waste streams from producing all products create Green House Gasses. I am more concerned about gasses that break down the protective layers of our atmosphere than CO2 and methane. IIRC nature knows what to do we these gasses, but molecules that destroy the ozone layer are really bad.
Ideally, the packaging on foods biodegrades when the food inside is past its expiration date and would be put in a device that creates energy from the how to safely buy viagra online decomposing food stuffs. This would create nearly "0" waste. Just a thought.
Why use disposable utensils?
written by Jean, June 11, 2011
I can understand that they may be needed for parties and other social occasions, but reusable a) lasts far longer, b) doesn't release harmful emissions, c) doesn't harm wildlife, d) doesn't clog oceans or landfills, and e) looks nicer.
What doesn't?
written by Jason, June 11, 2011
Name something which biodegrades which doesn't add methane to the atmosphere? Methane goes hand and hand with bacteria.
Seems a good idea
written by plumbing supplies, June 12, 2011
Methane emissions on landfills can make a garbage truck run. Seems like a decent idea.
reusabe vs methane
written by sarah, June 13, 2011
ok... so, is less energy or pollution created by washing utensils or by tossing biodegradable utensils?smilies/cry.gif
written by Cliff, June 13, 2011
So this study is claiming that the biodegradable materials that the biodegradable utensils are made of would not have biodegraded if they were not turned into biodegradable utensils.

That's remarkably stupid.
written by Carol, June 13, 2011
Why do we need biodegradable utensils? They are an inherently wasteful item. What is wrong with using standard non-biodegradable utensils and washing them between uses?
Re: reusabe vs methane
written by RwFlynn, June 13, 2011
That depends on where you got the energy to wash the utensils -- unless you wash them by hand of course. In most cases though, I would think that reusable utensils have less impact, considering they can last for years in your home, eliminating the constant need to produce more to replace the ones accumulating in a landfill. In other words, disposable utensils are always going to buy viagra australia have a negative impact, whereas it's way more likely (especially in the future) that the electricity in your house will be generated from relatively clean sources.

Go buy some metal utensils!
Breaking News...
written by Jeff, June 13, 2011
Biodegradable plastics biodegrade. DUH!

written by greenman, June 13, 2011
So this study is claiming that the biodegradable materials that the biodegradable utensils are made of would not have biodegraded if they were not turned into biodegradable utensils.

That's remarkably stupid.

That's remarkably funny.
What about bamboo?
written by Green Living, June 13, 2011
While disposable cutlery is buy cheap generic levitra convenient, I can't help thinking it's incredibly wasteful, especially plastic cutlery. Apart from the ground pollution over time, the energy involved in making plastic, usually from an oil base, is huge - just so we can discard it after using it once!
On the other hand, metal cutlery is also an energy intensive product. I recently saw bamboo cutlery on a green blog and was wondering what people's thoughts on cialis pills that are as a viable alternative?
breaking news...
written by Stu Miller, June 14, 2011
A recent study found that the biomass that dies each year in the Amazon rainforest, when rotting, contributes to GHG emissions. The study suggests among the options being considered are to cut down the rainforest to save these emissions.

What a stupid article. EcoGeek, you should be ashamed to have carried this (or at least with the women viagra summary you gave of levitra discussionsdiscount priced levitra the original article).

Did anyone measure how much GHG is absorbed during the life of the plants up until they were harvested for bio-plastics? Like a tree when burned.. it absorbs far more C02 during its life than it releases in your fireplace.
we can
written by james than, June 15, 2011
this is all a joke. casey container corp will fix even this methane problem

harness those landfills
written by Glissade, June 15, 2011
It should be the law of the land that all landfills be required to capture their methane to produce energy.

Recommended viewing:
Biodegradable Plastics in landfill
written by SymphonyUK, June 16, 2011
It is important not to confuse hydro-biodegradable ("compostable") plastic with oxo-biodegradable plastic.

Hydro emits methane in landfill but oxo does not.

Hydro is much more expensive and is designed to biodegrade in the special conditions found in industrial composting. Oxo will degrade anywhere that oxygen is present. Check out our website

Oxo has a better LCA than hydro, and land and water resources should not be used to grow crops to make compostable plastic bags.
written by Leslie, June 23, 2011

What a lie!! Oxy degradables need high heat and viagra cialis online sunlight in order to biodegrade. Neither are available in landfills.Please check out ASTM 5526- this is the plastic standard for landfill biodegradable plastics and the last time I looked oxy's do not pass that standard.
Anything that breaks down anaerobically in landfills emit methane. 75% of all landfills in the US harvest methane for fuels.It is a good source of chesp enerngy. BMW and Johnson and Johnson power their plants using it.
written by Colin Cunningham, June 23, 2011
The fundamental point is surely that sometimes people use disposable utensils. If they do it's better that they aren't made from petrochemicals i.e. traditional plastics and that they biodegrade. They don't need to go to landfill as they can be composted and if they do go to landfill the methane is a useful source of energy.
written by Nicola Terry, June 27, 2011
Its a difficult issue, this. If ordinary plastic is disposed of properly in landfill it does no damage to speak of - its effectvely a form of carbon sequestration. (though finding sites for landfill is a problem). The biodegradable plastics in landfill do cheap levitra online more damage, through methane emissions - and even if the site does collect methane it won't be 100% effective. If on the generic cialis next day delivery other hand you consider the plastic that is not disposed of correctly, and ends up floating in the oceans littering the deserts, then clearly the biodegradable form is much better because ordinary plastic forms granules that kill small animals and plankton. Is litter inevitable?
Carbon sink
written by Alan, July 17, 2011
Oh man, you were so close to it, but wounds up missing the obvious completely: Disposable plastics are and excellent form of carbon sink (keep the carbon sequestered on a geological timescale, do not leach toxic compounds into groudwater). Not to say we should crank them out just for the sake of online us cialis it, but continuing to cheap tramadol prescriptions online discover card use them is far from the worst thing we can do. In terms of GHG, it sounds like they're better than silly biodegradable ones.

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