OPINION: BY DWELLING ON THE DOWNSIDES OF BIOPLASTICS, WE’RE HOBBLING EFFORTS TO MAKE THEM PART OF THE SOLUTION
December 2, 2019 — Panacea was a goddess of Greek mythology. The daughter of Hepius, the Greek god of medicine, she is best known for bearing a magic potion that can cure any and every disease. In the clickbait era, we might think of Panacea as that “one simple trick” that completely changes everything. Indeed, we use her name today — uncapitalized — to refer, per Merriam-Webster, to “a remedy for all ills or difficulties: CURE-ALL.”
But, of course in reality, there are no panaceas. No cure-alls. That’s as true in medicine as it is in public policy. So, when we think about major global problems like the plastic waste crisis, as writer Anja Krieger recently did at Ensia, it’s essential that we remember that every proposed solution is going to bring its own challenges.
Unfortunately, for many journalists and activists covering the issue, the temptation to succumb to reflexive pessimism is simply too much. That type of thinking lends itself to seeing only the challenges and none of the benefits presented by innovations with the potential to propel us beyond an economy built around environmentally harmful plastics.
My organization, the Plant Based Products Council (PBPC), runs into this pessimism all the time.