Op-Ed: Compostable plastic is a step in the right direction

Friday, June 2, 2023

Compostable cup
By Corey Ip

I’m sure you know that plastic is bad for the environment. It takes forever to break down (and doesn’t even break down fully), ruins natural habitats, chokes innocent animals to death, and releases dangerous chemicals. 

It seems impossible to get rid of it, though. Trying not to use plastic in today’s world is an insurmountable task. 

However, compostable plastic can solve all of these problems! 

While it’s true compostable plastic is quite expensive, it’s way, way better for the environment. We’ll explore how in the following paragraphs.

In the right conditions, compostable plastic can fully break down into organic materials in a very short amount of time. 

According to worldcentric.com, ”Compostable plastics are non-toxic and decompose back into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass when composted.” 

Although they do need to be composted in a commercial facility or in a home compost pile, this means they won’t end up in landfills or the ocean. Compostable plastic works best with food, because both materials can compost together. Plastic that fully breaks down means plastic that doesn’t end up ruining the environment!

Compostable plastic is also made up of sustainable materials! 
According to the World Wildlife Fund, “compostable plastic is often made from biobased sources — like seaweed, sugar beets, or other plants — instead of fossil fuels. In this case, and if sourced responsibly, these materials can offer environmental benefits.” 

One common type of plastic, polyethylene, is made out of refined oil. Meanwhile, a common type of compostable plastic, PHA, is made by manipulating bacteria using nutrients. Bacteria is much, much more sustainable than oil, as I’m sure you all know.

I hope that this proves that compostable plastic is worth the extra cost!

It fully composts into organic materials in a short amount of time as long as it’s in the right conditions, and is made out of sustainable materials. If you can, use compostable plastic as much as possible! 

Usually compostable utensils can be $10 more than regular plastic utensils, but if you can take the cost, it’s totally worth it. Although it may not entirely solve the plastic pollution problem, it’s definitely a step in the right direction!

--Corey Ip is in the sixth grade at Einstein Middle School in the Shoreline School District.


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