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Petroleum-based Plastics vs. Bio-based Plastics

This infographic outlines the different pathways that plastics can take from their origin to their end-of-life. The raw material can be either petroleum or bio-based. In the case of bio-based material, their attractiveness is based on being from renewable sources. Some petroleum-based plastics can be biodegradable, some bio-based plastics are not biodegradable, and both types of plastics can be recyclable. For example, petroleum-based biodegradable plastic bottles can go into the compost bin if they can biodegrade within the turnaround timeframe set by the regional compost facility. Some petroleum-based plastic wraps and films can be recycled, but are difficult to sort, and therefore should go into the gray bin and normally end in a landfill. While bio-based takeout containers can be biodegradable some may not be suitable for compost facilities within a particular region. The different pathways demonstrate that plastic disposal is complex, and materials do not always end up where we might assume.

This infographic outlines the different pathways that plastics can take from their origin to their end-of-life. The raw material can be either petroleum or bio-based. In the case of bio-based material, their attractiveness is based on being from renewable sources. Some petroleum-based plastics can be biodegradable, some bio-based plastics are not biodegradable, and both types of plastics can be recyclable. For example, petroleum-based biodegradable plastic bottles can go into the compost bin if they can biodegrade within the turnaround timeframe set by the regional compost facility. Some petroleum-based plastic wraps and films can be recycled, but are difficult to sort, and therefore should go into the grey bin and normally end in a landfill. While bio-based takeout containers can be biodegradable some may not be suitable for compost facilities within a particular region. The different pathways demonstrate that plastic disposal is complex, and materials do not always end up where we might assume.