How is Soleic's end-of-life different from standard bio-based materials?

Not all bio-based materials are made equally

If a plastic is made from plant oil or other bio-based material, then it’s biodegradable, right?

False! Bio-based materials are sourced from plants, and often have lower Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions than petroleum-based counterparts, but the resulting polymers are not necessarily biodegradable. This means they will remain in the environment for tens to hundreds of years and still produce persistent microplastics. It’s also true that some bio-based materials will only biodegrade in certain environments (for example, via industrial composting but not home composting).

About half of the 2.18 million tons of bio-based plastics currently produced globally are non-biodegradable. This includes bio-based polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), which are used to make things like water bottles, plastic toys, and apparel.

The good news: Soleic is both biobased and biodegradable

Soleic materials are made from plant oil and are proven to biodegrade in compost, soil, and ocean environments. This is backed up by published scientific papers. You can read more about how Soleic materials biodegrade here.

Why should I care that my plastic is biodegradable? Can’t we just recycle it?

It’s true that you can recycle certain types of plastic, however recycling plastic still creates microplastics, and the statistics on recycling are sobering: a Greenpeace study from 2022 showed that only 9% of plastics globally are being recycled properly. This came after a 2015 study that reported the same 9% rate, which means the situation has not improved. This emphasizes the urgent need to change what we are putting into our products in the first place, rather than trying to solve our plastics issue by recycling alone. 

Not to mention that recycling can be costly, may produce plastic with lower structural integrity than virgin plastics, and can have limited GHG emission benefits. Equally concerning from a global human rights standpoint, much of the plastic we think is being recycled is actually being shipped to countries in the Global South, creating what has been described as a ‘toxic plastic waste trade’ in which the harmful chemicals in our plastic end up affecting the people and ecosystems in places far from where the plastics were thrown into recycling bins. 

Soleic materials tackle this issue from the very beginning of the supply chain, so that when your everyday products get discarded, they don’t end up contaminating environments and communities all over the world.

Further sources to dive deeper: 

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