PLASTIC ALTERNATIVES

PLASTIC ALTERNATIVES IN FLORIDA

PLASTICS & ORGANICS RECYCLING

Plastic that is compostable is biodegradable, but not every plastic that is biodegradable is compostable. Biodegradable plastic can be engineered to biodegrade in water or soil, compostable plastic means biodegradation into soil conditioning material (e.g. compost) under a certain set of conditions. If a plastic is labeled commercially compostable it must be able to be broken down by biological treatment at a commercial, public or industrial composting facility.  

These definitions often lead to non-compostable products entering the compostable waste stream that lead for a lower value or unmarketable product. The standards that outline the specifications that must be met in order to label a plastic as commercially compostable is American Society for Testing and Materials  (ASTM) Standards D6400 and D6868.  At this time, there are currently no ASTM standard test methods in place for evaluating the ability of a plastic to decompose in a residential home setting.  

The organics recycling industry in Florida does a lot to educate participants in compost programs to recover the correct material for composting programs in a commercial setting.  And many commercial establishments have been streamlining their procurement programs to focus on biodegradable, compostable or reusable products to help improve their participation in composting programs.  It has also created an increase in products available in the market for alternatives to plastic.  With the recent international movement to reduce pollution in the ocean and other waterways, alternatives to plastic has become an important topic.  

PLASTICS, THE ENVIRONMENT & FLORIDA'S COASTLINE

With over 8,000 miles of coastline, the state of Florida is well known for its beautiful beaches and waterways which help to draw more than 100 million visitors a yearVisit Florida estimates that in 2017, tourists spent approximately $88.6 billionfunding the livelihood of the more than 940,000 employees of the tourism industry, Florida’s 5th largest employer statewide1, marking the tourism industry as a major economic driver for the state. 

You may be thinking, “What does all of this even have to do with alternatives to plastics in Florida?  Well, these facts and figures help to illustrate the economic importance of the state’s beaches and waterways. While natural environments of the state are important to residents and visitors for recreationthese features also hold incredible economic value for local communities and the overall state. Protecting the health and vitality of our world-famous beaches and waterways is a paramount concern as these environments are increasingly threatened by polluting plastics and garbage. For this reason, plastic pollution has become an important topic in Florida, following the national and international concerns for the health of our oceans and safety of marine life.