At Kahuku Natural Zero Waste is really important to us.
We will not use plastic - why?
Even when consumers recycle a plastic bottle at best, 10-20% is currently recycled successfully. (1)
The plastic that is recycled is downgraded into a lower form of plastic.
Eventually that plastic becomes unusable, and is discarded into landfill.
Greenhouse gases are still emitted when products are sent to landfill or are recycled.
Many bathrooms contain plastic bottles that will only be used once. Scientists believe that in a few decades, there could be more plastic than fish if we keep going at current rates. That's because plastic never goes away. It is estimated more than 1 million sea creatures die every year as a result of plastic.
It does not break down in landfill, some of it finds it's way into water ways, and oceans. We do not know how many hundreds of years it will take to break down completely - maybe never. It's hard to imagine, but all of the plastic that has ever been made is still here, somewhere on earth. 12% of all waste is plastic.
The polymers that make up different types of plastics can get cross-contaminated also or absorb particles from the substances they contain. This reduces the ability to recycle them. It is estimated at best, plastic can only be recycled 7-9 times, whereas glass and steel can be recycled forever as these materials do not ever lose their integrity during recycling.
Most plastic is derived from petroleum - a non renewable resource.
Once in landfill, it can leach harmful chemicals.
What about Sugarcane Plastic?
Sugarcane plastic bottles are usually only about 92% sugarcane plastic. Large plastic containers such as the bulk containers are still made from standard HDPE.
It takes over 50 hectares of land to produce 82 tons of sugarcane. This will produce around 7,500L of ethanol. This amount of ethanol will make 3 tons of sugar plastic.
Sugarcane is actually burned off before harvest producing carbon emissions.
Sugarcane plastic is not biodegradable. It still needs recycling. So the only real benefit is that it is largely (not completely) free of petrochemicals.