Are we Becoming “Plastic People of the Universe” Or, What does “compostable” really mean?

Radio Show #35, December 27, 2020: As you may have read in a number of places, not only is the ocean full of plastic, we are literally living in an ocean of plastic microparticles falling from the sky.  Before you know it, we will all be “Plastic People of the Universe.”

On this show, Sustainability Now! addresses this and related topics. Ronnie Lipschutz and Kevin Bell, co-founder and co-director of the Sustainable Systems Research Foundation in Santa Cruz, discuss the biodegradability of plastics and which ones don’t really break down. Along with a raft of SSRF volunteers and interns, Bell has been conducting research into the plastics recycling dilemma and the diffusion of plastic through the environment and also looking for ways to make sure that take-out containers and utensils are truly biodegradable and compostable.

If you’d like to read more about the plastics problem, here are three recent publications of interest:

“Choked, Strangled, Drowned: The Plastics Crisis Unfolding in Our Oceans,” Kimberley Warner, et al., Oceana, November 2020.

“The Mixed Message of Earth-Friendly Design–Does buying more elegant objects help heal the planet?” Blake Gopnik, New York Times, December 11, 2020.

“Biodegradable, Hygenic, and Compostable: Tableware from Hybrid Sugarcane and Bamboo Fibers as Plastic Alternative,” Chao Liu, et al., Matter 3, 1–14
December 2, 2020.

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