Is this really new?

Disclaimer: I love the new developments that are happening in the areas of renewable materials. I love to read about it and it makes me excited to see that we are developing ways that are not petrochemically derived. Where I get skeptical and critical is when people jump on the ‘green’ band wagon and try to market it to the general unsuspecting audience as a new and great thing. In all honestly I get a bit frustrated with how new materials get marketed to the general public mainly because it plays on the heartstrings of the general public. Most people are honestly just trying to do the right thing for the environment so they make choices that they think are better for the environment. Yes moving away from petrochemically derived products is a good avenue, but I do have to stop and say a lot: are we really going in a ‘better’ direction? Do we have the infrastructre to support some of these new materials so that they are actually a better solution?

So with that said, I have to say about this new BioIsoprene: this is not new.  Ok what I mean by it is not new…making rubber from a renewable resource is not new. Charles Goodyear took rubber from rubber trees and discovered how to vulcanize them. Maybe Genecore has discovered a new way to make isoprene from a different type of renewable resource, but in my very short google searching (no, I did not exhaustively cross search it) I could not find out how Genecore actually makes this “BioIsoprene.” I think it is fair enough if they found a new way to make isoprene from a renewable resource, but it makes me a little mad that they are trying to market it like it is the first time that the world has seen isoprene from a renewable resource. Natural rubber is also isoprene. (Yes, I do believe that trees are a renewable resource if they are farmed in a renewable way.)  At least this press release gave me the impression that this is the first time we have ever seen renewable isoprene.

My suggestion: How about we work on ways to recycle tires so that its end of life is more than just shredding it and turning it into rubber mats on playgrounds or into asphault. Now THAT would be a breakthrough technology.

As I said earlier, I think developing new and cool ways to make materials we use today is awesome. And I’m not suggesting that this isn’t a good technology (depending on how they have done it…again, i can’t find that reference to their new cool technology). What I’m critical about is this marketing to the mass market that the idea of bio derived isoprene is new.

Finding ways to get away from petrochemicals has its merits, but there are also pitfalls that don’t always make it the golden egg. In today’s day we get so many messages that this is the better way, well…sometimes it is. And sometimes it is just a different path.


Plastic in the news

These days there is so much green messaging around plastics that it can be somewhat confusing and overwhelming to most consumers. There are the common plastics that we are familiar with, which have recycling numbers 1-7. The numbers are related to the types of polymer that a particular product is made from.  Now we are starting to see plastic containers that say ‘compostable’ on them. Then there is the term biodegradable which just means that over a specific time period microbes will break it down. And then there is renewable, plastic that is being made from non-petrochemically derived sources as well as the new fun term: bioplastic which typically refers to a plastic made from a renewable resource. I hope to address many of these different topics in this blog and what is going on in new developments with plastic. Welcome to what it means to be plastic today.

What’s going on with Plastic?

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