when "bio" meets "plastics": A case study of bioplastics and their impact in hong kong

Covid-19 seems to have been a global wake-up call when it comes to sustainability

However, even before Covid, one particular topic was on the minds of a growing number of individuals, citizens and governments: reducing single-use plastics. For several years now, several countries took action against plastic bags. Following this trend, bans of single-use plastic items like cutlery, cups or amenities are becoming more and more mainstream. Some regions like the European Union, Taiwan or in some cities in the USA and China have already taken drastic measures against single-use plastics items in restaurants, hotels or even supermarkets. These decisions are great, but raise another question: what should we replace plastic with? One of the popular replies is bioplastics. But what are bioplastics? When discarded, how do they react compared with regular plastic? And most importantly, is it always the best material to replace the plastic in single-use items? What about using bioplastics in Hong Kong? G.R.E.E.N. Hospitality’s latest report dives deep into the subject of bioplastics, explaining in detail what there is to know about this material, and when to consider its use.

 

 
Introduction

We may always hear the term bioplastics as an alternative to single-use plastic. But there are some lessons to learn - not all bioplastics are recyclablebiodegradable, and compostable. Take polylactic acid (PLA) as an example, which is a material commonly found in shopping bags, 3D printing components, transparent cups and so on, is only recyclable under industrial composting conditions at high temperature (must be above 58 degree celsius). Also, there are some concerns about the toxicity of chemicals from bioplastics, with potential harms on humans and the environment.

 

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