Green Matter: Growing sustainable feedstocks

06/05/2012

Much of the appeal of bio-based materials is based on the fact that they are derived from renewable, “green” resources, such as plants and bacteria, and hence, as the thinking goes, are somehow “environmentally superior” to conventional plastics: they do not deplete finite petroleum reserves or otherwise impact adversely on the planet’s ecosystem.

The realization is slowly taking hold, however, that production of even the greenest of green biopolymers can put a strain on both resources and environment. The sustainability of these materials also requires careful evaluation. Martina Fleckenstein, an agricultural expert at WWF in Germany, put it this way: “There must be mandatory sustainability criteria for the production of bio-based plastics. This means that the raw materials must be grown in a way that addresses environmental and social concerns.”

It’s a legitimate point, and one that needs to be addressed by producers of biopolymers everywhere.
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