Bioplastics: A Solution to Pollution?

September 5, 2019 12:00 pm — 2:00 pm

Co-sponsored by the Plant Based Products Council

An ELI 50th Anniversary Seminar

Millions of tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans every year, killing wildlife and releasing toxins. The scale of this pollution is only expected to increase in the coming decades. Along with approaches like single-use plastic bans and recycling mandates and incentives, the use of bioplastics—polymers made from biomass sources such as vegetable oils, corn starch, and woodchips—has entered the spotlight in recent years as a means of reducing plastic pollution and its impacts.

Proponents claim bioplastics can serve as a biodegradable and less carbon-intensive substitute for plastic, while also making use of materials like food scraps that might otherwise be discarded. Use remains minimal, however, due to the technology’s nascency and higher cost, raising the question of how viable a solution bioplastics present. Moreover, some experts caution that bioplastics may not be environmentally preferable after all, focusing on how some forms do not biodegrade more easily than conventional plastics, or because their production requires the use of land and resources that could otherwise be used to grow food for people.

ELI and the Plant Based Products Council were pleased to provide this exploration of benefits and challenges of an emerging and potentially transformative technology.

Chris Miller
, Partner, AJW, Inc., Moderator
Lisa Anne Hamilton, former Director, Climate and Energy, Center for International Environmental Law
Darby Hoover, Senior Resource Specialist, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Kimberlee Robertella Glinka, former Director, Center for Social Value Creation, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland
Lea Maguero, Environment & Sustainability Manager, Biopak Pty Ltd

ELI members will have access to materials/a recording of this session (usually posted w/in 48 hours). If you are not an ELI member but would like to have access to archived sessions like this one, go HERE to see the many benefits of membership and how to join.