The world has been increasingly concerned regarding the rising issues related to use of plastic and the management of plastic waste. Many businesses are putting their fullest effort to contribute in their own ways in the restoration of our drastically decaying environment. The use of plastic cups is a major source of plastic waste generated from all established companies and other work spaces. Therefore, the need to switch from plastic to a better alternative was imminent for the healthy survival of the companies in our environment.
Biodegradable cups can be considered the new face for corporate offices, where coffee cups are used on a regular basis. Switching plastic cups with biodegradable ones is now seen to be one of the most efficient ways to manage plastic waste at offices. All corporate employees are accustomed with endless amount of coffee throughout the working hours. Using biodegradable cups instead of plastic cups can drastically bring down the amount of plastic waste created every year in such corporate offices. Biodegradable cups, as the name suggests, are made of organic materials that help the cups to disintegrate into the soil at a much faster rate than plastic. These cups, when in contact with water and soil, turn into organic compost. These biodegradable cups can take up to six months on an average to fully decompose into the soil. With compostable paper cups it is possible to break up the waste into carbon dioxide, water, other inorganic compounds and biomass.
The newest technology of producing biodegradable plastic includes the use of PLA or bio-plastic, which is often made from organic materials like corn starch and can be relied upon as environment-friendly. Products made of PLA retain the ability to break down easily in soil within a span of 90 days. Therefore, cups made of PLA can be considered as one of the environment-friendly options for uses in large companies or office spaces.
The harmful effects of Polyethylene vary from excreting toxic chemicals to the soil to being choked upon by animals. The massive amount of environmental pollution caused by PE plastic has a detrimental effect on the sustenance of the planet. They also pose a serious threat for marine animals, which often consume the plastics and die by choking on them. The toxic chemicals that are often released by these PE plastics are harmful for marine animals and have the potential to cause terminal diseases like cancer in them. Apart from that, it causes considerable amount of soil pollution resulting in infertility, erosion and toxicity. The plastics that fail to disintegrate in the soil are often consumed by animals, resulting in their deaths.
However, it needs to be noted that the shift from using PE plastic to using paper caps might not necessarily contribute towards the environment. While decrease in the use of PE plastics result in lower plastic wastes, the use of paper can cause stress on natural resources through deforestation or the emission of greenhouse gases. Therefore, it is necessary to find an alternative that is not only biodegradable but also reusable.
Polylactic Acid (PLA) is obtained from starch of respective plants and can be used to manufacture a substitute of PE plastics. PLA plastic is usually generated from genetically modified corn. Though it takes a long time, it is completely biodegradable. PLA is made from plants that absorb carbon and help in reducing the greenhouse emissions. Since it is made from renewable resources, it is often a popular preference for organizations dealing with large quantities of plastic products. Unlike PE plastics, PLA can be burned without creating toxic fumes.
Nevertheless, it is also important to remember that PLA plastics can be decomposed easily only in a controlled waste management system. In other cases like landfills or compost bins, a PLA plastic bottle could take up to 100 to 1000 years to break down completely into carbon and water. Yet, PLA plastic products can be recycled under industrial conditions, which make them a popular choice against PE plastic.
Polyethylene is the most commonly used substance for producing plastic. As a by-product of petroleum, it is neither biodegradable nor compostable. Polyethylene is the most harmful variety of plastic that takes a long time to completely dissolve into the soil. Not only that, PE (Polyethylene) has extremely poor resistance to heat and can discharge toxic materials like antimony into the food and beverages they contain. The rampant use of PE plastic can be identified as one of the major worldwide threats faced by our environment right now. It is extremely necessary to switch to an alternative resource in order to protect the earth from further harmful effects.
As opposed to PE, PLA is biodegradable and hence a much better alternative for regular use. Unlike one-time plastic containers, PLA plastic can be turned into 100% organic compost and is absolutely safe for the environment. With the widespread adoption of PLA plastic cups, most corporate or government working spaces would be able to reduce their non-biodegradable waste radically. As conscious stakeholders in the society, it is the responsibility of every organization to contribute to the betterment of the environment they are thriving on. Since corporate organizations play an important role in the degradation of our nature, it is their duty to contribute towards the revival process in an effective way that helps in bringing about a significant change.
Recent upsurge on the harmful effects of PE plastic on the environment has successfully raised awareness amongst the users regarding the consequences of using non-biodegradable products and how to overcome them with better alternatives. The companies that use plastic cups in bulk are therefore implored to use environment-friendly alternatives to PE cups that would be made of 100% organic materials and can be easily dissolved in the soil. PLA can therefore be deemed as a suitable alternative to PE plastics and need to be widely adopted for efficiently bringing about a change in our environment.
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