A very BIG NO to PLA Straws – here’s why…….
Today, I had conversations with two separate individuals who care greatly about our environment. One was a manager of a very large hotel in Umhlanga, the other owns a beautiful organic vegetable shop in Ballito. Both had been convinced by their suppliers that PLA straws where environmentally friendly. And in a fare world, why shouldn’t they beleive it….
It is becoming a common misconception that biodegradable PLA products are great alternatives to general plastic, however, it is only great in theory as they still negatively impact on the environment.
So, some of you may be asking what is a PLA biodegradable straw? PLA stands for polyactic acid which is made from renewable resources, such as sugarcane or corn starch as opposed to petroleum based plastic. Naturally, one would assume because they are derived from natural ingredients that they are better for the environment. However, this is not always the case, can be very misleading, and is being used as a very clever but deceptive advertising tool to hotels, restaurants and the general public who genuinelly believe they are doing the right environmental thing in converting to PLA straws. Married with the clever marketing, green writing “enviromental, bio-friendly blah blah blah…. “ we are being fooled.
PLA is biodegradable, but in order to do so PLA straws need to be composted under very strict and specific conditions. South Africa does not yet have common (if any that we are aware of) facilities to compost PLA based products, forcing them to end up in the landfills and oceans along with all the other plastic. Furthermore, when these PLA items end up in plastic recycling plants they completely stuff up the recycling process as they are made from different components.
The long and short of it is “If it looks like plastic, feels like plastic, acts like plastic, unless it starts to disintegrate within 24 hours, it probably is plastic (of sorts) and will be around for a long time.”