Yesterday I attended the British Plastic Federation (BPF)'s annual seminar The Future of Bio-based and Degradeable Plastics: Markets and Applications. It was a really good insight into bioplastics as an industry and some of the challenges that we face on the whole in regard to waste management, products and "green/sustainability" in relation to plastics. There were some fascinating presentations on everything from landfill site management to using bio plastics to grow bone (amazing!) and even a bit of an uncomfortable debate over "Oxo-Degradable" plastics..I left with a lot to think about and some mixed feelings:
- Firstly that I really need some experience of how plastics are manufactured and which plastics are really used in shoe manufacture today.
- Secondly that bio plastics have their own hugely complicated problems and are maybe not the golden solution for product designers - e.g. bio plastics in waste streams could be a massive issue when products are sent for recycling (as they can't be recycled with petro-plastic) but how does the waste collector know the difference?
- Also that Carbon and Water footprints are going to be increasingly important and I need to learn more.
- Finally that there is sooo much out there to learn about, and ways bioplastics can and will be used it really is fascinating.