Dairy-based Plastics

Food packaging is perhaps one of the biggest drains on resources in our society.  We use petroleum to make it, use it once, possibly recycle it, but it has a pretty good chance of ending up in the North Pacific Garbage Patch or a landfill.

Researchers are investigating a new dairy-based “plastic” that could revolutionize the way we package food.

The true purpose of food packaging is to keep air, specifically oxygen, away from food.  If food comes in contact with oxygen, it degrades in quality (think of guacamole turning brown, this is oxidation.)  Scientists are developing a strong dairy-plastic that has better oxygen-barrier properties than some plastics.  The downfall is that these plastics are a weak barrier to moisture, so they are not yet practical for things like soda bottles.

Since they are food based, they would be biodegrable – they are actually edible!

I would jump at the opportunity to switch to dairy-based plastics.  I am curious, what do vegans think?  Petroleum-drilling and plastic flotsam are probably responsible for more animal suffering and deaths than milking cows.    If dairy-based plastics could replace petroleum-based plastics, would you use them?

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons by tuchodi

Source: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2010/100120.htm

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6 thoughts on “Dairy-based Plastics”

  1. That’s a really good question! I think that with so many bioplastics already in development, I’m not nuts about a dairy version. My first question would be about where they’re getting the dairy. Are they raising the cows on factory farms?

    Corn plastic has its own issues, but there are algae-based plastics that seem to be further along than this dairy version, and I’d rather see research into getting that into production than yet another animal product.

  2. On a personal level my family is moving towards using less and less plastic. I’d love to be completely plastic free, but food (strawberry) producers make that really, really challenging.

    On a national level, If we can manage to reduce plastic consumption by even 1% per year, we’d accomplish a great feat as a country.

    1. I hear ya. We’re doing the same around here, but it’s so hard with certain foods. Joining a CSA helped with some produce plastic. When she does use plastic bags or boxes for our veggies and fruit, we can return them and she’ll use them over.

      There’s a woman who’s trying to cut plastic out like your family is, and she’s documenting her monthly plastic usage. It’s pretty eye-opening. I wish I could remember the url for her site now! You might dig it.

  3. There has got to be another way. I think we can invent another kind of “plastic” without using animal products. Also, I think you need to take a good hard look at how many animals are carelessly tortured and slaughtered within the dairy industry before you make that assumption.

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