The Federal Trade Commission announced six enforcement actions last week, including against companies that marketed supposedly biodegradable plastic rebar cap covers, plastic golf tees, and plastic shopping bags, as part of the agency’s ramped up crackdown on environmental claims.
A team of U.S. scientists says it has developed a class of biodegradable electronics technology that could be utilized for a wide range of products — from consumer devices to medical implants — and that ultimately would dissolve completely, leaving no environmental impacts.
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By now, many have heard algae being proclaimed as the fuel source that could potentially replace a large percentage of the petroleum we use.
However, non-fuel uses of algae that can further lessen our dependence on petroleum have not gotten the attention they deserve. One such usage, while far less visible and but whom some would argue is just as important, is creating plastics.
Cereplast , a renewable plastics company, is looking into using algae as a new and renewable source of this seemingly ubiquitous material. In October 2009, it announced that algae-based resins “could replace 50 percent or more of the petroleum content used in traditional plastic resins.”
In a recent interview, Cereplast CEO Frederic Scheer explained that there are several benefits to switching over to algae-based plastics over traditional petroleum based ones. One reason is that it has the potential to help cut down the United State’s reliance on foreign oil.
“Traditional plastics are made from oil and the entire plastic and chemical industry is using up to 8 percent of our fuel and energy resources,” Scheer said. “In diverting to new [plastic] feedstock we are reducing our dependency [on foreign oil] accordingly.”
Reporting in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, more than 60 scientists found the following: Chemicals added to plastics are increasingly absorbed by humans, altering hormones and affecting fetal development and other physiological processes; millions of tons of plastic debris are ingested by hundreds of animal and fish species, clogging their digestive systems and infusing their systems with chemicals; floating plastic debris can last thousands of years in oceans and transport invasive species; plastic in landfills leaches harmful chemicals into groundwater; and 8 percent of world oil production goes into manufacturing plastics.