Green Miracles: Biodegradable Plastic


It seems like there’s never a lack of environmental innovations, today people are looking for eco-friendly versions of popular and very un-ecofriendly products.  The debate over the ethics of plastic and polystyrene (more commonly known as Styrofoam) usage has been waging since the two polymers became the material standards for goods manufacturers around the globe.  Now businesses are scrambling to switch to biodegradable containers, everything from drink containers, take-out carriers, and laundry detergent jugs are being made with biodegradable materials.

Why Use Biodegradable Containers?

There’s no longer a debate as to whether or not these plastic and polystyrene are harmful to the environment.  People know that making them requires a lot of natural resources, produces greenhouse and ozone depleting gases, and pollutes the environment when they’re disposed of.  Aside from the environmental dangers of using plastic and polystyrene, there are also ways these materials post a danger to human health.

Styrene is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the EPA and by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).  The chemical is even more dangerous for the workers who produce it.  Many people who work in polystyrene plants report respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurological problems because of their constant exposure to chemicals.  People are only beginning to see the harmful effects plastic can have on the human body. The chemical that makes hard plastic clear and shiny, bisphenol-A (also known as BPA), can affect human hormone production.  BPA is known as an endocrine disruptor, meaning that it has some of the same characteristics in the body as estrogen and can mimic its actions. Abnormal estrogen activity can cause an array of health problems, but the most common ones are breast, testicular, and other forms of cancer.

Companies use these eco-unfriendly polymers because they are durable, cheap, and relatively easy to produce.  These characteristics are why it has taken awhile to develop biodegradable packaging; in its beginning stages it was difficult to make biodegradable containers that were inexpensive and strong.  Now companies have found ways to manufacture inexpensive biodegradable and/or compostable plastics.

New Frontiers

ENSO was the first company to make a splash in the biodegradable containers scene with the invention of the ENSO bottle.  Unlike some biodegradable plastics, ENSO bottle aren’t made from Polylactide (PLA) plastics which are derived from renewable resources like corn starch, tapioca, and sugar cane.  ENSO plastics are made from the usual sources plastics are made from; the additives to their plastics are what makes them biodegradable.  ENSO developed additives that accelerate the biodegradation of traditional plastics by attracting microorganisms and enzymes that cause bio materials to break down.  This development could very well change the way people produce and use plastic, and both industry insiders and consumers are excited about the development.  Be sure to contact your favorite companies to see if they’re willing to switch over to biodegradable containers, it can earn them eco-conscious customers and help the environment.

Jillian Johnson is a professional content writer with an interest in the environment. Follow her @MissWritey.