Small things can have big impacts. Every year over 10 billion plastic pens worldwide are thrown out and end up in landfill. In Australia alone, over 140 million pens are sold annually, with the majority discarded after a single use and ending up as long-term problematic waste. This results in around 700 tonnes or 1100 cu metres of plastic waste being dumped in local government landfill sites across Australia. (Our calculations based on international and Australian data from 2001-2009).
Now there's a better alternative: the use of plant-based plastic substitutes. The Cornstarch Pens are made by a variety of manufacturers in the EU and China from Mater-Bi or PLA (Polyactide – a polymer made from Lactic Acid which is fermented from dextrose from cornstarch) and other revolutionary biodegradable materials made from cornstarch. The biodegradability of the pen body can be compared to cardboard when composted, and there are no toxic or metal residues. Longer life products such as mugs and rulers can also be made from cornstarch and take longer to break down in compost conditions.
Cornstarch products, such as pens, rulers, mugs and more, use renewable agricultural derived starch to make bioplastic polymers that can be made into oil-based plastic substitutes. Cornstarch plastic products look and feel just like regular plastic, but they are 100% biodegradable and compostable. Cornstarch products are preferable mainly because:
Producing PLA uses 65 percent less energy than producing conventional plastics, according to an independent analysis commissioned by NatureWorks. It also generates 68 percent fewer greenhouse gases, and contains no toxins.
Probably the greatest contribution that cornstarch PLA can make is in the area of packaging: in the USA alone, conventional plastic packaging uses an estimated 200,000 barrels of oil a day!
From corn to PLA resin to bioplastic products
Sustainability – The use of Corn Starch in the context of food production
In the context of the debate surrounding non-food uses of agricultural resources normally used for food, it is interesting to note that starch has been used for industrial purposes for decades, and that based on available data, an estimated 200,000 tonnes of starch is used directly or indirectly in the production of biodegradable plastics worldwide. In comparison with the size of the market for starch in Europe, which is over 8 million tonnes, this figure shows that a small fraction of this starch is used to produce bioplastics. This also demonstrates that current demand for bioplastics is not responsible for any limited availability of foodstuffs or any increase in prices. Novamont, 2010.