Corn starch plastic...anyone following this?

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Cly, Apr 24, 2005.

  1. Cly

    Cly Junior Member

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    I saw a report on some news show in Brisbane a couple of years ago, for the life of me I can't remember which one, that introduced the practical idea of making things like shopping bags and glad wrap from corn starch - complete with a display of a sample on the show. It was really promising Aussie invention and quite strong. Does anyone know anything more on this wonderful discovery, have you seen this plastic in use, can you name a company that has crossed over to this eco-friendly solution? I know it's available companies for use, infact places in europe are desperate to buy all they can get from Australia, Brittain especially, but it seems within Australia it's potential isn't being taken advantage of. Is this true and if so, can we do something about it with our local MP's, the government or by petitioning certain stores etc? I know South Africa totally banned non-enviro friendly shopping bags alltogether and places in europe have implemented high taxes to discourage companies from using the old plastics. Damned plastic bags and plastic products alltogether are such a huge problem, am I hoping for progress too quickly ?
     
  2. SueinWA

    SueinWA Junior Member

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    Actually, yes! Here in the U.S., we have access to biodegradable bags and eating utensils. The company I work for makes cornstarch-based spoons that are given out when you buy ice cream at a shop. The drawback with them is that they are only suited to cold or room-temp food-- with hot food, like spoons for coffee, they melt into the coffee.

    BUT.... "access" is a far cry from "common use". The problem seems to be getting the people who buy the plastic bags (stores) to change over to the cornstarch bags. I don't know the difference in price. I cynically expect little to happen until the stores are FORCED to buy them. Sure, they probably have some drawbacks, but what can be worse than an endless stream of plastic bags caught on trees, shrubs and fences in every square mile of America???

    I didn't check out this site, but it might have some info for you. I just Googled biodegradable+plastic.

    https://www.recyclaholics.com/

    Sue
     
  3. Cly

    Cly Junior Member

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    I agree ...they'll only do it if forced or if it saves them money...*shakes fist* There are bags around that once exposed to the sun they start a biodegrading process slowly, I used to see them alot though I haven't seen the corn starch ones anywhere. I have been away from Australia for just under a year...I'm hoping some companies have picked it up. I just use crotchet shopping bags though I don't see many others doing it, kmart (I think, could be Big W) used to offer 10c per bag discount off the total of your shopping if you brought your own though they don't do this anymore...

    Awesome news about those spoons you were talking about, I'm thinking a little push with the local MP's (Member of Parliament in aussie land) may help, may not, can't hurt.
     
  4. SueinWA

    SueinWA Junior Member

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    Cly, it's an odd coincidence that you recently posted this subject.

    Today at work (plastics factory) we were called in to a brainstorming session. It seems that most of the bugs have been worked out for cornstarch-based, biodegradable materials. The producers of the basic material are VERY close to solving the problem of heat-resistance in this material. That has been the big problem, apparently. They can make spoons of biodegradable cornstarch (for instance), but they tend to dissolve when exposed to heat -- stir your coffee with the spoon, and when you bring it up, the spoon either folds, or the bowl of the spoon is gone....

    So, we were thinking of all the things that could be made from an opaque "fake" plastic that will return to the earth when tossed out along the roadside.

    Sue
     
  5. j.bruce

    j.bruce Junior Member

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    I've seen tree-free fiber "paper" plates, clear cornstarch cups, ramakins (those little things that resteraunts send home sauces in), salad/takeout containers, silverware, etc. My problem with all of this is that i am a reuser... I like to reuse plastic stuff from resteraunts and parties and such.... not possible with biodegradable wares. However, i am not the majority, and in catering to the majority, this seems like a really good step.

    Here's my problem with this idea though. Recently at a landfill in my area a core sample was taken to a depth of at least 500ft. There were biodegradable materials such as newspaper, kitchen scraps, and the like that were 50 YEARS OLD! They had not biodegraded due to the absence of the conditions which promote bacterial carbon/nitrogen return. In other words, they weren't getting any moisture, air, and the compaction was too high. My fear is that with these biodegradable kitchenwares the process of natural breakdown isn't going to occur due to nonpermitting environmental variables.

    The good thing in all of this, though, is that in areas where incinerators are used for waste disposal, these cornstarch cups produce FAR less emissions than the day's standard plastic cup.
     
  6. SueinWA

    SueinWA Junior Member

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    Yes, you've got a real point there about stuff not degrading in landfills. And I know it's true. And, while it would be wonderful if stuff DID actually degrade as we would hope, it's an unrealistic expectation due to (mainly< IMHO) how landfills are operated. But someday, we may have a movement toward composting as they do in some areas with manure and vegetation, where they pile it in windrows, and have machines that run alongside and turn the materials to add air. If that day ever comes, and we really make an effort to separate the compostables from the noncompostables, products made of biodegradable materials will be really "useful".

    HOWEVER, due to the low mentality of many people (who have spent their lives having someone clean up after them), a lot of the fast food, eat&dumpit crowd disposes of a lot of stuff alongside the roads where it sits into eternity, buried in the grass and other vegetation. This is the where the immediate usefulness of biodegradable materials comes into play best, at this time.

    But it is frustrating to see how quickly mankind destroys virtually everything he touches, and how slowly the repairs go.

    Sue
     

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