Are Biodegradable Plastics Environment-Friendly? Think Again, Warns Group

New packaging solutions have been promoted by companies amid a new generation of consumers concerned about sustainability.

But are bio-based, biodegradable or compostable plastic better? Not really, according to Greenpeace. In its latest report, “Throwing Away the Future: How Companies Still Have It Wrong on Plastic Pollution ‘Solutions,'” the international group tackles several ways companies have claimed to address the plastic waste problem, which includes 164 million sachets being used and thrown away daily in the Philippines.

The 36-page report of Greenpeace discussed different solutions put forth by fast moving consumer goods companies (FMCG) and how they were not always environment-friendly.


Among these solutions is the move towards paper packaging. Aguilar said the preference for paper packaging would only negatively affect forests. “It’s transferring one problem to another. Materials substitution is not a solution,” she said. Beau Baconguis, Asia Pacific coordinator of Break Free From Plastic, said paper packaging contributes to the issue of deforestation at a time when “we really really need” to keep forests intact because of climate change. She also said that some paper packages require plastic liners, which may cause “contamination from the chemicals that would be leeching into the food.”

Greenpeace also dismissed "bioplastics" or plastics made from plant materials, such as corn or sugarcane as "greenwashing"

“These terms can be confusing for customers, especially when generic ‘greenwashing’ terms such as ‘eco’, ‘bio’ or ‘green’ are used for marketing advantage,” the report said, further explaining that bioplastics do not have a standard definition and can include fossil fuel based plastic. 

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