Plastics made from corn (PLAs) are advertised as “biodegradable.” And they are. IF your back-yard composting bin is capable of reaching 140 degrees for a stretch of 10 days or more. And that only happens at industrial composters specifically set up for this kind of thing. In the average home composting setup, corn plastics remain unchanged after six months, leading to accusations of false advertising on the part of firms like Wal-Mart, which pushes corn plastics to consumers as part of its new push to green-wash their image.
Smithsonian: So, yes, as PLA advocates say, corn plastic is “biodegradable.” But in reality very few consumers have access to the sort of composting facilities that can make that happen. NatureWorks has identified 113 such facilities nationwide—some handle industrial food-processing waste or yard trimmings, others are college or prison operations—but only about a quarter of them accept residential foodscraps collected by municipalities.
I’m in the middle of reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, so my head has been swimming with corn-y thoughts lately. More later.