The Truth About Biodegradables

I wish to correct any misunderstanding created by the report on Imperial Chemical Industries' BIOPOL materials in the U.S. ("Plastic that disappears in the dark," Developments to Watch, Aug. 17). ICI supports a balanced approach to waste management, including waste reduction, reuse, and recycling.

For applications that cannot be recycled for technical or economic reasons, BIOPOL plastics--naturally derived from renewable feedstocks--can fit the need.

As you mentioned, the resin degrades when it encounters common bacteria found in soil and other microbially active environments, which is why I must correct the statement made about the degradation of this material in landfills.

ICI does not make the general claim that BIOPOL materials will degrade in landfills that are not managed for degradation. Sealed against the outside environment, unmanaged landfills limit bacterial activity, allowing little, if anything, to biodegrade.

ICI's position is that BIOPOL materials will safely fit any disposal method currently in use: reuse, recycling, composting, incineration, or landfill. Whichever option end-users prefer or legislation requires, BIOPOL materials will meet their requirements.

William D. Luzier

Biopolymers Manager

ICI Bio Products & Fine Chemicals

Wilmington, Del.