Biodegradable Plastics in a Show Down with Fossil Fuel Plastics – Who Wins?


In New Jersey, in one corner there are biodegradable plastics and in another corner, fossil fuel based plastics, with consumers sitting in the stands wondering which one they should be cheering for. With a lack of composting infrastructure in the U.S., biodegradable plastics are often not accepted in recycling centers as they are considered contaminants to the usual recyclable plastics. So which is better – fossil fuel based plastics that can be recycled but often aren’t or biodegradable plastics that probably won’t be composted properly?

TerraCycle Founder and CEO Tom Szaky stacks them against each other and said while plastics can be recycled, they are made from non-renewable fossil fuels, increase greenhouse gas emissions, and 43% end up in landfills or incineration, or in oceans. Bioplastics usually have less greenhouse gas emissions and are more sustainably sourced. Some plastics like Coca Cola’s PlantBottle can be recycled, but most can’t, placing a need for composting infrastructure to really make a difference. His proposed solution? Focus on durable bioplastics that are made from plant materials, but can still be recycled.