Beth, I also live in the country and I also see plastic litter on the roadside. In fact, I carry a trash bag, pick it up and bring it back to recycle. I can't understand littering, either: I used to go backpacking and the rule I learned is make it look like you were never there. At least if plastic trash is biodegradable it won't take an extremely long time for the plastic to break down and become harmless constituents of the ecosystem.
A green plastic films manufacturer stopped by the PackExpo booth of my company about four years ago, with some sample preformed bags. They wanted to test their bags on our equipment. We were happy to run the test right there.
The bags were incredibly stiff and "hard" compared to regular LDPE packaging material. This material sounded like cellophane when handling it (lots of LOUD crackling crunching noise). The material was also very, very fragile. It had no stretch, no give. Stress it just a bit, and it rapidly tore.
It was green (made from corn), and would degrade readily, but it wasn't very usable for packaging. There's still a lot of work to be done in the field to make a usable green material for packaging.
Cool slide show, Ann. I particularly liked seeing the BASF materials being used in food packaging applications. All you have to do is take a walk (I live out in the country and it's still a problem) and it's an eye opener to see the cups, bottles, and fast food trash littering the sides of the road. Given that it's harder to change people's behavior (although I can't understand littering, but that's a totally separate issue), it's comforting to know progress is being made on creating products that will be a bit easier on the environment.
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.