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PBPC Newsletter December 11, 2019


Welcome to the Plant Based Products Council Newsletter! Read on for the latest in PBPC news and activities, as well as some of the amazing innovations, trends, and developments happening right now in the sustainability and bioeconomy world! If you missed our last edition, check it out using the link below.

PBPC AT THE UN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE – COP25

From last week into this week, business, environmental, and government leaders from around the world have descended upon Madrid, Spain for the 2019 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP25. In the 25th meeting of the parties to the convention, leaders are meeting to express support for the Paris Agreement and for urgent climate action.

PBPC’s recently-announced executive director, Jessica Bowman, is in attendance at COP25, and had the opportunity to provide remarks at a morning panel on Friday, examining how businesses are driving shifts toward greater sustainability and positive impacts on greenhouse gas emissions.

MYTH VS FACT: BIOBASED EDITION

Normally, our PBPC Accountability Blog examines a recent media story and provides a balanced, bio-based perspective. But this week we’re taking a different approach, creating a single document to set the record straight on many of the myths and misconceptions about bio-based products and materials that have taken root.

PBPC OP-ED: REFLEXIVE PESSIMISM HOBBLES SOLUTION-SEEKING

Jessica Bowman, Executive Director of PBPC, offers a rebuttal to the negative perspective about bioplastics so often offered by media, making clear that while there are no silver bullets or panaceas to the problems created by traditional plastics, bioplastics are one important part of a holistic approach. She argues we must not discard potential environmental solutions because of imperfections, and instead we should pursue efforts to overcome such concerns.

PBPC PUBLIC COMMENT FILINGS

In November, PBPC submitted comments in response to the House Select Committee on Climate Change’s Request for Information, recommending policies and programs to advance the bioeconomy and the potential for biobased products to contribute to greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

HSCC Comments

PBPC also submitted comments on draft legislation developed by Senator Udall and Representative Lowenthal intended to develop a national strategy for addressing plastic pollution. The comments recommended taking an approach that recognizes the unique nature and benefits of bio-based products and developing a robust Federal research and development program that could help grow this industry with collective technical expertise.

Udall-Lowenthal Plastics Legislation Comments

A HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE TO AVOID PLASTIC
Gift giving is tough enough. Yet, many of us also want to shop in a way that reflects our values, working to reduce our plastic footprints this holiday season. Here are a couple of links offering ideas for more sustainable gift-giving.

PLASTIC-PLEDGE PROBLEMS AND POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS IN BIOPLASTICS

The Wall Street Journal took a deep dive examining corporate pledges to reduce plastic waste and single-use plastics, finding that many big businesses are “struggling” to meet their goals. Meanwhile, Packaging Digest offers three simple bio-based solutions corporations should consider: paperboard packaging, biomaterials, and 3-D printing with biobased inks.

ADVANCEMENTS IN BIOPLASTICS

What do coffee beans, tofu, banana leaves, and edible bowls made of wheat have in common? Businesses, scientists, and entrepreneurs are utilizing them all as they successfully seek new and improved methods of utilizing bioplastic to replace traditional plastics.

THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called our then-48 states laboratories of democracy, where different experiments in law could flourish. Chicago recently exemplified that perspective, testing how the public reacted to subsequent laws concerning plastic bags. Chicago found small fees on plastic bags were significantly more effective than informational campaigns, resulting in a 28 percent reduction in the usage of single-use plastic bags.

IMPROVING THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY FOR PLASTICS

Petroleum plastics will always play a role in our economy, although we hope in much-reduced volume. In the meantime, we can limit their negative environmental impact by finding new and innovative ways to ensure even after their use, plastics retain value – creating a circular economy for plastics.

MORE PLASTIC, MORE PROBLEMS

Despite efforts to build a circular economy, petroleum-based plastic remains an environmental scourge of undeniable proportion – and some of the trend lines are bending in the wrong direction. Here are just two examples. First: plastic recycling in the US fell to a rate of 8.4 percent of plastic produced in 2017. Second: states like Oregon are incinerating plastic in “waste to energy” facilities, but that process releases 15 times more carbon dioxide per metric ton than if that plastic waste were diverted to a landfill.

THE LATEST IN CORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY

Businesses big and small are increasingly incorporating sustainability concepts into their products, packaging and operations. In this issue, we single out for praise Gore-Tex, Reebok, Michelin, the partnership between ALDI and Repurpose, PepsiCo’s green bonds, and finally our friends at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the New Plastics Economy who awarded their innovation prize for a newly designed coffee cup, called the Unocup.

DOE LAUNCHES PLASTICS RECYCLING INNOVATION CHALLENGE

In November, the US Department of Energy announced a program to accelerate innovation in plastic recycling, setting goals by 2030 to improve collection, deconstruction, upcycling, commercialization, and design for recyclability.



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