The New Plastic

I don’t know how to handle this Environmental Science question and need guidance.

Discussion Post:

Most of you have probably seen the new corn-based plastic, which is being used in more and more products such as take-out containers, water bottles, and cardboard boxes. This new plastic is made from a resin called polylactic acid (PLA). Conventional plastic packaging requires about 200,000 barrels of oil a day in the United States. PLA is touted as the way to break away from petroleum packaging and save us from the mounting piles of plastic taking over landfills.

On the downside, PLA decomposition requires large scale recycling. Specific microbes and levels of carbon dioxide and water and a specific temperature are needed. These facilities are very rare and most do not accept residential food scraps collected by municipalities. PLA causes problems for conventional plastic recyclers if it is mixed in so they must now pay to remove it. There are also concerns that using corn in such a manner will continue to drive up food prices.

What do you see as the biggest pros and cons of this technology? What alternatives do you see for reducing plastic consumption?

Please cite resources

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