Though some moviegoers' powerful identification with "Avatar" may have inspired them to ponder the planet and rethink their carbon footprint, they likely missed the irony: millions of nonbiodegradable, plastic 3D glasses were reportedly distributed for the movie.
Luckily, cinemas may be on their way to adopting a more sustainable technology. Cereplast, an L.A.-based maker of bioplastics, has partnered with Oculus3D to create what appear to be the first biodegradable 3D glasses. Unlike current 3D glasses that are made using petroleum-based plastic, these will be manufactured with plastic derived from plant materials.
Cereplast and Oculus3D say they'll be ready to distribute their glasses this summer, according to Greenwala, where we first spotted the news. With the rising cost of oil and a high interest in 3D movies, biodegradable 3D glasses could be just the right move for the movie industry.
RealD--the predominant developer of technology for 3D glasses, and one of four providers of 3D systems for showing "Avatar"--implemented a recycling program for its plastic glasses last fall. Moviegoers are given the option to toss their glasses into a bin after the movie or keep them for reuse.
Glasses that end up in the bin are taken to a sanitizing facility, repackaged, and returned to theaters for redistribution. Intact glasses can be washed up to 500 times, but any that are cracked, scratched, or damaged are likely sent to landfills. RealD told CNET it could not comment on its recycling program because the company is in a quiet period.