The pitfalls of corn plastics

A Consumerist reader noticed that his Primo-brand bottle water, made from plastic derived from corn-based byproducts (and water!), shrank noticeably in the sun. I think that's an acceptable trade-off for non-petroleum-based plastics if you must buy bottled water in the first place. The shrinking shows the biodegrading is working! The Incredible Shrinking Water Bottle [Consumerist]
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14 Responses to The pitfalls of corn plastics

  1. liquide says:

    The guy’s letter is hilarious; without any scientific backing he jumps to the conclusion that hot plastic water bottles will explode! Oh my! (I feel like the scarecrow in Wonderland.)

  2. royaltrux says:

    @ #4 I think it IS the sun. Also, if it’s merely heat, then storing them in your car, garage, delivery truck, you get the idea, is going to be a problem.

  3. Aaron T. says:

    This isn’t unique to PLA bottles; PET water and soft drink bottles are made using the reheat stretch blow molding same process, which involves blow molding the heated preform into a chilled mold to set in the shape and strengthen the material. If the bottle is reheated, such as by being filled with hot water or left on a dashboard on a hot summer day, its stresses will relax and it will tend to shrink back to its original shape. The bottle isn’t biodegrading or decomposing, it’s just returning to its original, pre-blow molded shape.

  4. Anonymous says:

    My grocery store carries Primo water as 24 bottles sitting in a cardboard half-height tray surrounded in shrink-wrap. In the stack of these units, you usually can see two or three of the cardboard trays showing signs of leakage. I don’t think it’s sun-shrinkage, but just normal impacts that occur during shipping and storage.

  5. themindfantastic says:

    I have to admit this pleases me… we always worry about plastics that will be with us in the same state through time immemorial, here are plastics which barely last the afternoon, let alone a 1,000 years.

  6. historyman68 says:

    @2 – how about convenience? I think that’s a pretty good excuse.

  7. kpkpkp says:

    So why aren’t we hearing about ruptured bottles by now?

  8. rAMPANTiDIOCY says:

    still does nothing to alleviate the problem of creating the bottles in the first place. There is no excuse for such superfluity.

  9. royaltrux says:

    Agree with both of you, but I wonder how much sunlight it is likely to see in a garbage bag that is under another garbage bag that is also buried in a landfill?

  10. Daemon says:

    Hmm. If they shrink, and are full and remain sealed, that is likely to result in bursting, or at least leakage, unless the plastic is strong enough to handle the pressure.

    Of course, if they are full and remain unsealed, then shrinking to half their size will definately result in water coming out.

  11. Marshall says:

    I’m in Missouri right now and I was at a museum earlier this week that made big water out of how all their food packaging was corn based. But they had no recycle bin for non-corn based glass and aluminum.

  12. consideredopinion says:

    Rather more serious shortcomings than solar shrinkage I’m afraid.

    The entire waste management issue needs to be addressed. They look identical to PET and probably are picked out of commerical compost heaps (where they would biodegrade with that heat) to avoid contaminating the compost, and are then slotted into a PET pile – which it does contaminate – expensively.

    As with many new technologies, they require appropriate design, and appropriate user education.

    Still, when weight isn’t an issue, I’ve gotten by just fine with my glass AZ Ice Tea bottle and the water fountain since 2002.

  13. BCJ says:

    @ #3

    But is it the sun that is causing it to degrade, or is it the heat from the sun?

    If the bottle biodegrades due to heat, it should help that it is in a garbage bag that is under another garbage bag that is also buried in a landfill.

  14. Anonymous says:

    There will be a lot of biodegradable materials in landfills. Heat will be generated by microbes and organisms breaking down organic matter. It may not even need the sun, as long as there is heat from the organisms to begin the process.

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