GAIA Zero Waste MasterPlan - Page 85

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) 85
While paper is recycled at a higher rate than
plastic, large amounts of paper collected
for recycling goes to landfills or incinerators
due to contamination.

Bio-based and biodegradable plastic;
compostable plastic; and molded
fiber: Most bio-based plastic contains a
significant amount of fossil-fuel-derived
plastic. Both bioplastics and fossil-fuel
derived plastics can be designed to be
“biodegradable”. However, this requires
specific heat and humidity conditions
almost never available in the natural
environment. Few U.S. cities have the
industrial composting facilities required
to process compostable plastics[31], and
many compost facility operators do not
want to accept compostable packaging
products.[32] Moreover, the majority of
31 The Times Editorial Board. (2019, December 22).
Editorial: Compostable Plastic? Not So Much. Los
Angeles Times.
32 Northern California Recycling Association. (2019,
March 22). Oregon Composters Push Back Against
Compostable Packaging. https://ncrarecycles.
bio-based products are derived from
agricultural crops. An increase in bioplastic
production would further increase the
share of agricultural land used for non-food
crops, which is linked to food insecurity,
environmental degradation, and agricultural
Many molded fiber foodware products are lined
with Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (known
as PFAS) to prevent oil and grease from seeping
through. PFAS is a potentially carcinogenic
chemical that impairs immune function. It
persists in the environment and human body,
meaning it doesn’t break down, can make its
way up the food chain, and can accumulate over
time.[33] Items containing PFAS should not be
composted and spread over soil. Most of these
plastic packaging alternatives end up in landfills
and incinerators. While phasing out single-use
plastics is important, the implementation of
reuse and refill systems should be prioritized
over the use of regrettable substitutions.
33 United States Environmental Protection Agency.
(2018). Basic Information on PFAS.


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