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How do you feel about sustainable plastic alternatives? 你如何看待可持续塑料替代品?



Photo credit: www.mychinet.com

Today if you throw out a plastic cup in Shanghai, chances are it will end up in a landfill. We certainly don’t want that ticking bomb next to our precious city, taking up plots of land and releasing toxic gases and liquids into the environment.

今天,如果你在上海扔掉一个塑料杯,它最终的命运将是被扔进垃圾填埋场。我们当然不希望在家门口放一颗定时炸弹,占据大片土地,向环境释放有毒气体和液体。

Let’s face it, most of us aren’t great at refusing and reducing. The ultimate solution to climate change will have to be more compatible with how most people already live their life. What about disposable cups and plates made from sustainable materials? I wonder.

让我们面对现实吧,我们大多数人都不擅长拒绝强迫性购物和减少垃圾排放。解决全球变暖的最终方案必须与大多数人已有的生活方式更加兼容。用环保材料制成的一次性杯子和盘子怎么样?我想研究一下。

I sat down with Antoine Moussali to talk about sustainable plastic alternatives and his company.

His company, Sineo Packaging, provides sustainable packaging to the food & beverage industry.

今天,我和安托万·穆萨利(Antoine Moussali)坐下来讨论可持续塑料替代品。他的公司,Sineo包装,为食品和饮料行业提供可持续包装。

What are these sustainable alternatives to plastic in F&B?

在餐饮行业中,有哪些塑料的可持续替代品?

There are mainly two types: bio-plastics and fiber-based materials. Bio-plastics are made by mixing plant starch with plastics. Polylactic acid (PLA) is the most widely used bio-plastic and is made with cornstarch and plastics. It’s compostable through a 90-day process in a commercial composting facility. Fiber-based materials compress plant fiber into utensils, cups and plates. These mainly include wheat straw, bagasse (sugarcane fiber), and kraft (wood pulp).

主要有两种类型:生物塑料和纤维材料。生物塑料是由植物淀粉和塑料混合制成的。聚乳酸(PLA)是应用最广泛的生物塑料,由玉米淀粉和塑料制成。在商业堆肥设施中经过90天的过程,它可以被降解。纤维材料将植物纤维压缩成器皿、杯子和盘子。这些主要包括麦秸、甘蔗渣(甘蔗纤维)和牛皮纸(木浆)。


It seems more green to use fiber-based, no?

使用纤维材料似乎更环保,不是吗?

Yes. Fiber-based materials are great in that they come completely from plant materials that would find little use otherwise. It’s a beautiful concept to find a use for wheat straw after harvesting or sugarcane fiber after juicing. However, fiber-based materials don’t hold liquids well, aren’t heat-resistant (are not microwavable), and aren’t transparent in order to showcase the food inside (think salad bowl lids).

是的,纤维材料很棒,由于它完全来自于植物,并且那些植物材料很难找到其他用途。

这是一个美好的理念,在麦秆收割后或甘蔗纤维榨汁后找到其他用途。然而纤维材料不能很好地保存液体,也不耐热(不能在微波炉里使用)。而且不透明,所以顾客没法看到里面的食物(比如沙拉碗盖)。

What about prices?

它的价格如何?

PLA ware is actually 25%-30% pricier than PE or PET, while fiber-based is only 5%-10% more.

实际上,PLA制成的器皿比PE或PET材料的器皿贵25%-30%,而以纤维材料制作的器皿仅高出5%-10%。

So you’re saying that fiber-based is both green and cheap, just not as functionally-versatile?

所以你的意思是纤维材料制成的产品既环保又便宜,只是用途不够广泛?

Exactly. But let’s not get carried away. Fiber-based materials are hard to recycle because they are usually contaminated by the food they used to hold. Composting would be a perfect solution but in Shanghai and China in general we don’t have large composting facilities. Compost fiber-based materials at home if you can, even though they may take a long time.

完全正确。但是我们不能得意忘形。纤维材料很难回收,因为它们通常会被存放的食物污染。堆肥是一个完美的解决方案,但在上海和中国,一般我们没有大型堆肥设施。如果条件允许,我们可以在家里用这些纤维材料堆肥,即使可能需要很长时间。

What happens to PLA then?

那么PLA材料呢?

PLA is not better. Since it requires specialized commercial composting facilities to be able to compost, and we don’t have those in China (very few in the world in fact), they go straight to landfill.

PLA材料也好不到哪里去。因为它需要专门的商业堆肥设施来堆肥,而我们在中国没有这样的设施(在世界上也很少),所以它们直接被填埋。

We cannot recycle PLA like we do PET?

我们不能像回收PET那样回收PLA?

First of all, less than 10% of all plastic gets recycled. So we’d be naïve to think we could recycle our way out of this mess. PLA simply doesn’t have the volume to be recycled in a way that is profitable. Additionally, it’s easy to mistake PLA for PET and put it into the recycle bin, while in reality, PLA adulterates PET and makes it costly to recycle PET. Don’t try to recycle PLA.

首先,只有不到10%的塑料被回收。所以认为我们可以通过循环利用来摆脱这种混乱,那太天真了。PLA量太少,回收是亏本的。此外,人们很容易将PLA误认为PET并将其放入回收站,而在现实中,掺入了PLA的PET使得回收PET的成本很高,甚至让整批PET成为废品。大家不要回收PLA。

So you’re saying even if we switch to bio-plastic and fiber-based, they’re going to end up in the landfill, the same way plastics do?

What’s the point then?

所以你的意思是,即使我们改用生物塑料和纤维塑料,它们最终也会被填埋,就像塑料一样?那这还有什么意义呢?

Yea, unfortunately we don’t currently have the facility to compost or recycle them. But you’re still doing a good thing by switching from plastics, whose production generates a lot of pollution and carbon footprint.

是的,不幸的是,我们目前没有堆肥或回收它们的设施。但是,通过使用替代塑料的产品你仍然在做好事,因为生产塑料会产生大量的污染和碳排放。

I walked away a bit dazed and heavy in my heart. This turned out to be a lot more complex than I’d imagined. While we consume packaging thinking it´d be recycled or composted, it´s often constrained by a lack of infrastructure and policy support. As a community, we can lobby for composting facilities for Shanghai, and even a municipal composting program.

What do you think?

我带着迷惘和沉重的心情离开了。这比我想象的要复杂得多。虽然我们有好的出发点,认为这些材料可以堆肥或回收,但是我们还没有足够的基础设施或政策支持。作为一个社区,我们可以请愿上海建设堆肥设施,甚至一个市政堆肥项目。

你觉得如何?

Images and some information are from Sineo Packaging’s website: https://sineopackagingstore.com 本文的图片和部分信息来自Sineo包装的官网: https://sineopackagingstore.com


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