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EarthTalk

Questions and Answers About Our Environment


Monday, June 30, 2008

Alternatives to Petroleum-Based Plastic

EarthTalkCornPlastic.jpg
Photo Credit: Bec, courtesy Flickr
A cup made from PLA, plastic made from cornstarch.

Q. What are the environmental pros and cons of corn-based plastic as an alternative to conventional petroleum-based plastic? — Laura McInnes, Glasgow, Scotland

A. Polylactic acid (PLA), a plastic substitute made from fermented plant starch (usually corn) is quickly becoming a popular alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastics. As more and more countries and states follow the lead of China, Ireland, South Africa, Uganda and San Francisco in banning plastic grocery bags responsible for so much so-called "white pollution" around the world, PLA is poised to play a big role as a viable, biodegradable replacement.


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posted at 01:39:59 PM | permalink

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Using Hydrogen as Fuel on the Distant Horizon

Q. How is it that hydrogen can replace oil to run our cars? There seems to be a lot of controversy over whether hydrogen can really be generated and stored in such a way to be practical. – Stephane Kuziora, Thunder Bay, ON

A. The jury is still out on whether hydrogen will ultimately be our environmental savior, replacing the fossil fuels responsible for global warming and various nagging forms of pollution. Two main hurdles stand in the way of mass production and widespread consumer adoption of hydrogen "fuel cell" vehicles: the still-high cost of producing fuel cells and the lack of a hydrogen refueling network.


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posted at 01:48:11 PM | permalink

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