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 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.