Event Title

An Environmental and Cost Comparison between Petroleum-Based Plastic Drinking Straws and a "Greener" Alternative

Location

King Building 241

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

4-27-2018 5:30 PM

End Date

4-27-2018 6:50 PM

Abstract

This study aims to compare the environmental and financial costs of restaurants using petroleum-based plastic (PP) straws versus a “greener” alternative. Plastic straws are one of the most abundant items found in oceans and coastal cleanups around the United States and internationally. Plastic does not degrade over time, so all the plastic we have ever made is still around, affecting every ecosystem on the planet. Drinking straws are made of 100% recyclable material, but because of their small size most plants are not able to recycle them so they are sent to landfills. By looking at greener alternatives to PP drinking straws, we can see if there actually are affordable alternatives that can help reduce plastic waste and carbon emissions. This study focuses on the Feve and constructs a modified life cycle analysis to determine if switching to polylactic acid (PLA) plastic straws would decrease the Feve’s carbon and plastic waste footprint. By tracing the carbon emissions created in the production, transportation, and disposal of plastic straws, I compare the carbon footprint of each product to see if one is better for the environment than the other. I also see if using PLA, which is considered to be a green alternative to PP, actually affects plastic waste output given the Feve’s location relative to landfills and industrial composting facilities. I hope that this study can be used as a model for helping other restaurants reduce their plastic and carbon footprint at an affordable cost.

Keywords:

biodegradable, carbon footprint, life cycle analysis, petroleum-based plastic, polylactic acid

Notes

Session VII, Panel 21 - Sustainable | Geographies
Moderator: Chie Sakakibara, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies

Major

Environmental Studies; Visual Art

Advisor(s)

Roger Laushman, Environmental Studies
Nanette Yannuzzi-Macias, Art

Project Mentor(s)

Cindy Frantz, Environmental Studies
Roger Laushman, Environmental Studies

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Apr 27th, 5:30 PM Apr 27th, 6:50 PM

An Environmental and Cost Comparison between Petroleum-Based Plastic Drinking Straws and a "Greener" Alternative

King Building 241

This study aims to compare the environmental and financial costs of restaurants using petroleum-based plastic (PP) straws versus a “greener” alternative. Plastic straws are one of the most abundant items found in oceans and coastal cleanups around the United States and internationally. Plastic does not degrade over time, so all the plastic we have ever made is still around, affecting every ecosystem on the planet. Drinking straws are made of 100% recyclable material, but because of their small size most plants are not able to recycle them so they are sent to landfills. By looking at greener alternatives to PP drinking straws, we can see if there actually are affordable alternatives that can help reduce plastic waste and carbon emissions. This study focuses on the Feve and constructs a modified life cycle analysis to determine if switching to polylactic acid (PLA) plastic straws would decrease the Feve’s carbon and plastic waste footprint. By tracing the carbon emissions created in the production, transportation, and disposal of plastic straws, I compare the carbon footprint of each product to see if one is better for the environment than the other. I also see if using PLA, which is considered to be a green alternative to PP, actually affects plastic waste output given the Feve’s location relative to landfills and industrial composting facilities. I hope that this study can be used as a model for helping other restaurants reduce their plastic and carbon footprint at an affordable cost.