Today’s Solutions: December 01, 2021

While it’s important that everyday people do their part to avoid single-use plastics, what we really need is for major companies to find green alternatives to the plastic packaging that is currently being used to package goods. Only then do we have a fighting chance against the scourge of single-use plastics polluting our oceans.

The good news is that there is a new plant-based material called polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) that is fully compostable and can replace all kinds of plastic packaging on store shelves. Better yet, a number of food and beverage giants from PepsiCo to Nestlé are all working with the material to replace the wasteful packaging they currently use.

PepsiCo is working on a compostable chip bag made from PHA. Nestlé is using PHA to create a biodegradable water bottle. Genpak is working with PHA to create biodegradable food containers, and Bacardi has created a new bottle from the material. These are just a few of the companies currently working with PHA, which is primarily made of canola oil and will break down in your home compost bin, a landfill, or even the ocean.

If PHA can truly break down in the environment, then it will be a huge step up from the “biodegradable” or “compostable” plastics we’ve seen in the past, which often have to be sent to industrial composting facilities to break down. PHA, on the other hand, should require no specialized equipment to break down.

With all this said, we must exercise caution with PHA. We’ve seen companies promote sustainable alternatives to plastic packaging before, only for them to not live up to their expectations. For the time being, we’ll just keep a critical eye out for the development of PHA-based packaging.

Image source: Bacardi

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