Tag Archives: biodegradability

Oceanic gyres

Destination: Garbage Island

I’ve heard stories over the years about “islands”, out in the middle of the oceans, which are created completely from discarded plastic. It’s hard to believe that such a place would exist. I recently watched the documentary, “Garbage Island”, by Vice. This documentary proved there is no such island, at least not in the terms of plastic patches so thick you could walk on them.

What is actually out there; 1,000 miles from any landmass, is much worse than a simple growing patch of used up plastic. There are vortexes, holding in tons of broken down plastic particles from the plastic that doesn’t sink (LDPE, HDPE). This plastic floats along the currents of the ocean, breaking down year after year from the sun and the salt water, ultimately finding its home in and around the slower currents of the gyres.

It would be relatively easy to scoop up all the large items of trash and clean up our oceans, but the small, usually microscopic, size pieces of plastic particles would be nearly impossible to clean up.  All marine life has to live in an environment that is ultimately becoming toxic. They ingest the plastic particles and, in turn, we ingest the seafood.

How do we limit the amount of plastic that is ending up in our oceans? This isn’t a problem only confined to the United States, this is a worldwide problem. It’s not enough to just know where our plastic products are ending up, i.e. being recycled, landfill, etc. We should also be more aware of what types of plastics are being used and how their end of life is affecting our environment.

ENSO Plastics Restore is leading edge technology that gives plastic material biodegradability in landfills; and ENSO’s Renew resin will make plastic marine degradable. This is a solution that can solve the plastic pollution problem in our oceans. A solution that needs to addressed; because once the plastic is out of our hands, it’s up to nature to take care of the rest.





What percentage of methane is collected in landfills?

I recently came across an article by James Levis called Collecting landfill gas good step. This article is a reaction to a paper that Levis co-wrote with Dr. Morton Barlaz titled “Is biodegradability a Desirable Attribute for Discarded Slid Waste? Perspectives from a National Landfill Greenhouse Gas Inventory Model.” That very paper started the jumping off point for the sudden out spurt of biodegradable plastic methane emissions articles all over the web this summer.

Spinoff headlines ranging from  “Study: Biodegradable plastics can release methane” to the reckless “Biodegradable products are often worse for the planet” were at the forefront of attention.

I had reacted to such articles in a previous blog which you can read here but after reading Levis Collecting landfill gas good step article, I came across some statistics that I just had to share!

greenhouse gas emissions methane

Levis stated in the article “ The foundation of this research is a life-cycle accounting of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with discarding waste in both national-average and sate of the art landfills”    Now here is some interesting information,

An estimated..

35% of waste is discarded in state of the art landfills which collect generated methane and use it in beneficial ways

31% of waste is left in landfills without any gas collection occurring

34% of the waste is in landfills that collect and flare the gas


The results of the research showed that there are significant benefits to collecting and beneficially using landfill gas. Levis addressed reactions to the research, one of the most common comments being “these materials are intended to be composted, therefore the results are irrelevant.” Levis reacted to the response by stating, “But these materials are generally not composted, and most areas of the country do not have the infrastructure for source-separated compostable collection and treatment of these emerging biodegradable materials. Therefore we need to understand the effect of their disposal in a landfill.”

Another common response to the research included that the conclusions were too broad, that they neglected emerging materials like bioplastics that do not appreciably degrade in landfills. Levis responded by stating that the argument seems misguided because these types of materials are not even technically biodegradable and the study’s only mention of bio-based, non biodegradable products was to say that it would lead to green house gas emissions in a landfill.  Levis closed the article by stressing the importance of analyzing the entire life cycle of a product to know if it is better to use a conventional or biodegradable material in the production, as well as environmental and economic factors, before making your final judgment.