One of our clients recently decided to explore the possibility of packaging their products in “corn plastic”, otherwise known as Polylactic Acid (PLA). Due to the controversy surrounding PLA our client is still debating if the product will make it to the shelf in the “corn bottle”. We decided some additional research was in order on our part to understand the current thinking on the pros and cons of PLA.
We discovered that several factors need to be considered—biodegradability, compostability, fossil fuels used, air pollution produced, the dreaded GMO corn and its entire controversy — these are just some of the issues that are being discussed. It can all seem very complicated and discouraging, but it’s important to stay focused on the progress being made rather than the problems we are encountering. Solutions are being developed and improved upon, and we are much further along in the sustainability movement than we were 10 years ago.
The following articles, the first from 2006 and the second from 2010, are perfect examples of the evolution of a new development.
2006 Smithsonian Article
2010 Green Right Now Article
It’s not a perfect answer yet, and sometimes announcements of marginal or untested solutions are simply greenwashing, so we need to be vigilant and attentive. But if we voice our concerns and stay involved, eventually new solutions evolve for the better. As Eric Lombardi, president of the Grassroots Recycling Network and a leader in the international Zero Waste movement says, “let’s not kill the good in pursuit of the perfect”.