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Topic Briefs

Compostable Plastics Conundrum - November 2023

In recent years, consumer demand for more eco-friendly alternatives to conventional plastic has led to a surge in the use of compostable plastics, a type of biodegradable plastic designed to break down into organic matter under specific environmental conditions. Made from both renewable sources like sugar cane and corn as well as fossil fuels, compostable plastics are used to make things like disposable utensils, straws, food scrap bin liners, takeout food containers, and cups. However, increasing awareness and emerging research suggest that compostable plastics can pose human health and environmental risks as well as challenges to waste management programs.