POINT OF CLARIFICATION ON CARBON NEGATIVE ACTIVITY
The phrase carbon negative activity can have many interpretations that I feel needs clarification. Carbon is sequestered in plastic as we all know, but when the plastic is biodegradable, the off gassing of methane (comprised of C02 and Methane) from the biodegradation process is combustible. If this bio-gas is utilized in methane to energy generators, the result is considered a “green” source of energy. However, carbon is still emitted from the process, the benefit is that we used energy from bio-gas instead of using energy from say…coal. Utilizing methane from a landfill is only part of a possible process of creating a carbon negative cycle. There’s a major running debate right now as to the carbon positivity/negativity of landfill biogas generation. The back-to-back papers at the SPC conference last Spring in San Diego by Adam Gendell and Mort Barlaz spoke to two sides of this issue. As more data flows in from many different projects currently underway, we will have a more definitive understanding of how to apply it to carbon life-cycle analysis, in the ultimate goal of realizing carbon negativity!
In the hopefully not so distant future, we will have plastic that has come from renewable sources that are not land-crop depended, but will still utilize carbon available in our atmosphere, to help in the carbon sequestering process. ONLY when carbon is being pulled out of the atmosphere, and less carbon is being put back into it (by engaging activities like methane to energy), can someone be truly carbon negative. Having an ENSO biodegradable plastic is part of the whole picture that is entirely up to progressive sourcing of material, and responsible end of life process.