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Sustainable vs. Compostable - Which is Best?

Posted February 01, 2007 6:00 AM

The lack of global standards for environmentally acceptable manufacturing has left Japan and Europe at opposite ends of the green pursuit. While Japan stresses durable goods, Europe focuses on compostability. The different regions base their strategies on the dominant industries. Durability is important in Japan, for example, where electronics goods are often recycled. The discrepancy in outlooks between Japan and Europe, however, leads to hiccups in cross-marketing products, as Plastics & Rubber Weekly reports.

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Good Answers: 14
#1

Re: Sustainable vs. Compostable - Which is Best?

02/02/2007 5:24 AM

Hey Moose!

I prefer sustainability. Until the item has outlived its usefulness. Then, compostability. Either (or possibly a combination of) an additional molecule to the chain, a dose of counter-longlife (hopefully harmless) chemical mix, or some exotic light source to render it compostable.

Mark

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Anonymous Poster
#2

Re: Sustainable vs. Compostable - Which is Best?

02/14/2007 1:47 PM

I believe that the correct answer is sustainability. Biobased materials have little chance of being seriously accepted into the mainstream of durable goods unless they meet perfromance and durability metrics of petroleum based materials or their composites, AND at a similar price. Otherwise they will be largley confined to throwaway products. Durability and compostability are opposite design goals. The startegy should be to make biobased materials sustainable and durable but with a 'trigger' that can allow them to be composted at the end of their useful life.

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Anonymous Poster
#3

Re: Sustainable vs. Compostable - Which is Best?

02/14/2007 3:39 PM

There is a middle ground in plastic biodegradablity that you may not be aware of. There are additives that you can add to PE, PP, PET that enables the product to degrade in a landfill in 9 months to 5 years. The product has none of the compostable issues- heat, moisture, limited shelf-life. It degrades anaerobically only after being put in a landfill or buried in the ground.Normal plastic items last 400 years in landfills.Why not take a plastic product and enable it to degrade after disposal?And best of all, it leaves no nasty chemicals to pollute the soil or water.It degrades into humus.So you can have a plastic that is durable and sustainable.

Leslie Harty

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Participant

Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 3
#4

Re: Sustainable vs. Compostable - Which is Best?

02/14/2007 10:24 PM

Why is everything put in an "A" vs "B" choice? It certainly makes it a polarized issue like one choice is right and the other wrong. Not so. Different products will require different solutions and to lump all in a "durable goods" vs "compostability" strategy is the first mistake in this debate.

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Commentator

Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 55
#5
In reply to #4

Re: Sustainable vs. Compostable - Which is Best?

05/14/2007 11:34 AM

I am a strong believer in conservation. Neither A nor B fall it what I believe. I have been practicing it all my life. Long before it was popular. To me recyclables is number one on the list after reusable for most thing. We recycle steel aluminum, glass and lot of plastics. We could reuse cotton shopping bags[shameless plug of a cotton farmer] that would last all our life. Most of my life I reused tires on the farm for at least 20 years and some my have been 30 or 40 years old. They just when on things that were lighter and lighter until they blew out or were ruined some way.

We need to reduce our carbon consumption and be carbon negative not carbon neutral. Paying someone to plant a tree so you can fly your private jet and keep up 3 mansions is hypocrisy when the man being portrayed the anti-Christ of the environment only owns this house www.commondreams.org/views01/0429-03.htm. Living on cistern is tough.

I am not sure the call for sustainability is that great in the EU. It is very great in the very vocal green movement that is mostly made up of people with no experience to the areas they call for sustainability in and what the believe is sustainable is not actually correct. I can only speak with true authority on what they call sustainable agriculture. Having been actively involved with agriculture 50 years this year with land that has been in our family as long as 148 years I have a pretty good idea what sustainable means in farming and ranching.

By their definition it means that land be as productive next year as was this year with no deterioration in the land. In every case my family has passed on more productive land than they got and I intend to do the same. The methods the EU claims are sustainable show a steady loss of organic matter over time just as mine did until we went to no till cropping and started to see a rise. Their methods also don't replace all the nutrients they use and put a lot of the nitrogen below the reach of the following crop so it ends up in the water. These observations come from the papers they claim to show their methods are sustainable.

I don't think much of compostable products except their better than ones that won't break down. But large dumps don't compost they are for the most part anaerobic and it needs to break down under those conditions if it is for the public market.

Gordon

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