biobags vs. plastic trash can liners | My Plastic-free Life

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biobags vs. plastic trash can liners
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September 20, 2012
6:46 pm
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September 20, 2012
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I work in a dental office with several others dentists and lots of trash cans.  The owners of the building use a cleaning crew that puts plastic liners in each can, each night. The cans need liners with people putting gum, dirty gauze, etc. into the cans. Biobags (plant based plastic, biodegradable) would seem like a better alternative, but if they're put into landfills where they don't biodegrade, are they much better than plastic?  Not made from oil or gas, which is good, but they're way more expensive.     

September 21, 2012
6:31 am
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March 30, 2012
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Here's what I found from another site which quotes a professor of chemical and biochemical engineering at Mich. State: 

Can biodegradable plastics break down in landfills? This claim, which now shows up on everything from water bottles to trash bags to Discover's "biodegradable PVC" credit cards, is "disingenuous at best," says Narayan. Usually, nothing biodegrades in a landfill. But if biodegradable plastics do break down in this oxygen-free environment, they'll emit methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than CO2.  Source:

September 21, 2012
1:12 pm
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February 16, 2010
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Thanks, Jeremybot. Dr. Narayan is someone I interviewed for my book, and I wrote pretty much the same thing. The only advantage to the biobags is that they have a lower carbon footprint since they are made from new carbon (plants) rather than old carbon (oil and gas.) But there are drawbacks... as in the GMO corn that is often used for bio-based products and the chemicals fertilizers and pesticides used to grow it.

September 21, 2012
1:49 pm
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March 30, 2012
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Thanks Beth. 

September 22, 2012
4:45 pm
Pat Clancy

Would cleaning services consider using paper bags to line the trash cans?  Would that be an improvement?  If the trash cans had a plastic or metal removable liner which could be dumped into one large plastic bag, that would reduce the waste.

November 17, 2012
9:17 am

Just to be clear, no medical waste goes into these garbage cans? Medical waste, as you probably know, is a whole other thorny issue that, sadly, doesn't lend itself to an environmentally friendly solution.

Second the paper bag or removable liner idea; in conjunction to these, maybe limit the number and or size of garbage cans. Would bet none of them get anywhere near full!

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