Bio-plastics: Are We Using Food Crops to Make Them?

An argument that is often presented to us against promoting Bio-plastics (made from plants) is that  they are made using corn and other potential food crops, that instead should be going towards feeding people. Well, yes – and no.

Many layers to the story

As with almost any sustainability topic I can think of, there are lots of different layers to a  story. One of the many benefits of using Bio-plastics is that they are helping us wean ourselves off fossil fuel based plastics, which is absolutely imperative. In addition, Bio-plastics create 75% less carbon emissions than conventional plastics (see attached brochure from BioPak). So even if bio-plastic does end up in landfill, less emissions have been created along the way.

Is it made from a food source?

As far as food sources are concerned, while it is true that Bio-plastics are currently made predominantly from corn, our partners Biopak tell us that soon a variety of non-food feed-stocks will be used to create Bio-plastics. And surely we can help provide better food security for people around the world by such things as combating our incredibly high levels of food waste in the developed countries, supporting small scale farms and industries in developing nations, and a myriad other ways?

Our thoughts

Here at Going Green Solutions we have always thought of bio-plastics as being not the ideal solution, but definitely as a better alternative than oil based plastics – and we still think so. Surely the ideal end goal is bio-plastics made from easily renewable, non-food source crops – and this is the way we are heading. This, coupled with huge improvements in composting opportunities for biodegradable bio-plastics, will really get us on a better track.