A sustainability comparison between biodegradable and petroleum-based plastics
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Using corn and other more sustainable methods of producing plastic has been around for some time, but the polymer was too expensive for broad commercial applications until 1989.1 Hughes Hybrid, a seed company in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, was handing out pens produced from corn over a decade ago. They were flexible and reliable, but simply a novelty. The next step was to manufacture a product out of a renewable resource that is far from a novelty: a package that has the potential to biodegrade and be mass produced. With the sudden push for environmentally friendly packaging, this has been implemented on a small scale nationwide. Companies like NatureWorks have narrowed their production line to being derived solely from corn and other renewable resources,still being able to contend with other, petroleum-based manufacturers in the plastic packaging industry. Plastic packaging, due to the fact that it is made from crude oil, has been the target of many environmental issues. Are biodegradable plastics a viable option to counter the effects of petroleum-based plastics on the environment?