Environmentalists have once again prescribed the wrong medicine, making matters worse instead of curing the problems over which they fret. Bookworm links to an article in the Guardian on the latest fiasco:
A lot of people aren't nearly as smart as they think they are.
The worldwide effort by supermarkets and industry to replace conventional oil-based plastic with eco-friendly "bioplastics" made from plants is causing environmental problems and consumer confusion, according to a Guardian study.
The substitutes can increase emissions of greenhouse gases on landfill sites, some need high temperatures to decompose and others cannot be recycled in Britain.
Many of the bioplastics are also contributing to the global food crisis by taking over large areas of land previously used to grow crops for human consumption.
The market for bioplastics, which are made from maize, sugarcane, wheat and other crops, is growing by 20-30% a year.
Concern is mounting because the new generation of biodegradable plastics ends up on landfill sites, where they degrade without oxygen, releasing methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. This week the US national oceanic and atmospheric administration reported a sharp increase in global methane emissions last year.
"It is just not possible to capture all the methane from landfill sites," said Michael Warhurt, resources campaigner at Friends of the Earth. "A significant percentage leaks to the atmosphere."
Update -- a reader reminds us of this from Noel Sheppard at Newsbusters:
As the international disaster of ethanol begins taking its toll on the planet -- and, maybe more important, as press outlet after press outlet finally begins recognizing it -- will media remember that Vice President Al Gore cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate requiring this oxygenate be added to gasoline?