Mixed messages

Guest Blogger – Michigan Mary
These days there are a lot of mixed messages that are being sent to the consumer. It is hard to know sometimes if the green advertising that comes our way really is based on a company’s decision to do what is right for the environment versus what is best for its financial bottom line.

Recently, we here at RE3.org have learned that some area universities have been contacted by a water bottle company which advertises a natural plastic exterior which is biodegradable. Although initially this may catch the eco-conscious consumer’s attention there is a little more to the story than initially meets the eye.

The pros of this particular bottle is that it is not made from petroleum based methods which we all know causes harmful external effects on the environment around us. The plastic, called PLA or Poly lactic acid, is made out of a renewable resource (corn-based). The company advertises that its product can be recycled; however, because of the alternate processing to make the plastic, it is not able to be recycled like the rest of the water bottles currently available on the market, but it can be composted.

The company advertises that its product can be recycled, but this is enforcing incorrect associations within society. Styrofoam can technically be recycled but the availability of locations that are able to take it is miniscule compared to say, an aluminum can. If individuals start to make false assumptions about what can and can’t be recycled it becomes costly to the companies that actively engage in this practice.

This is a tough issue though because it seems the company is trying to be sustainable and is seeking to alter the current unsustainable practices within society. By creating a bottle that is biodegradable it is hoping to create a greener future. Tell us what you think – would you buy a bottle of water based on how or if it can be recycled? Does the manner in which it can be recycled (put in a bin or composted) matter?

1 comment:

Dodge This! said...

Great topic, MM. This isn't just a problem for universities. I recently saw a friend drinking bottled water in a corn-based plastic that she had purchased at a drugstore. She was amazed that it was made out of corn (she had picked it for other reasons), and had no idea that it couldn't be recycled with real plastic bottles. Should any stores be carrying these without the local infrastructure to have them composted?