More than eighteen trillion pounds of plastic have been produced to date, and eighteen billion pounds of plastic flows into the ocean every year. It snares the marine animals we cherish and the fish we put on our plates, it appears in the table salt we use, and it’s even found in our own bodies.

As more research on the impact of using so much plastic comes to light, consumers and manufacturers are left scrambling for an alternative to the ubiquitous material, and bioplastics have emerged as a potential alternative.
At a glance, the name sounds promising, with a prefix that hints at an Earth-friendly product. But is bioplastic the panacea for our environmental woes?

The answer?

It’s complicated, say scientists, manufacturers, and environmental experts, who warn its potential merits rest on many “ifs.”

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(Photo credit: Rebecca Hale and Mark Thiessen, National Geographic)