Articles from the Boston Compass, Trash Is Tragic

MARCH COMPASS: Trash Is Tragic


You’ve seen them floating around woke-y food establishments: disposable containers, cutlery, straws, and bags that claim to be good for the environment. They look like plastic, but feel kinda funny. Emblazoned on each are vague ecological prefixes that make us feel good: eco-this, bio-that, “green.” A leaf motif as if to say, “this cup is one with the land.”

These freaky deaky disposables are made using bio-based polymers, dorkspeak for “bioplastics.” According to the Earth Institute at Columbia University, “bioplastics” are made from 20% or more of renewable materials. The multibillion dollar industry pumping ‘em out is new, so classifications are kinda squishy, but bioplastics are generally lumped into three categories: degradable, biodegradable, and compostable.

It’s hard to tell if bioplastics live up to their lofty environmental claims. Are they actually superior to plastic? How does one accurately dispose of them? Can I eat it? Most importantly, why are questions about their origin met with drank-the-Kool-Aid answers like, “It’s made from potatoes!” Listen man, I’ve been around the potato block once or twice. I’ve defiled many a spud in the name of science and pleasure. Legend of my Allston Potato Bong predates Facebook. Don’t go telling me what is and ain’t potatoes!

I’ve coined an acronym for disposable bio-based polymers: Single-Use Bio Plastics and Resins, or SUBPARs. SUBPARs aim to: Reduce reliance on fossil fuel-based polymers AND/OR Reduce landfill mass AND/OR Provide retrievable energy in the form of disposables AND/OR Cash in on our concerns about plastic waste.

Sounds pretty woke-y, right? Now you can Shavasana in peace knowing the chalice for your post-yoga smoothie is one with the circle of life. Not so fast! SUBPARs are not, in and of themselves, good for the environment. Plastic or not, single-use products are wasteful by design. Additionally, SUBPARs create a host of disposal challenges for America’s waste municipalities.

To learn more about SUBPARs, how to accurately dispose of them, and how to kick ‘em in the dick, visit!!!


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