Biodegradable plastics are the kinds of plastic that can naturally decompose in the environment. The way they are made makes them easy to break down for microorganisms like any other biodegradable product. Biodegradable plastics are much more beneficial for the environment. They are eco-friendly as they are made of materials that are natural and renewable.
These plastics are mainly used for making disposable items like packaging, cutlery, crockery and food containers. They are designed in a way that they degrade in industrial composting systems. Suggestions have been made to use them in other industries as well. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations had released a report that examined the sustainability of plastic products used in agriculture. The FAO report suggested biodegradable substitutes for several products such as mulch films, plant support twines, fishing gear, tree guards and plant support twines.
There have been previous efforts to increase the use of these sustainable plastics in the industry such as packaging. Biodegradable plastic bags and shoppers had been made compulsory in Italy since 2011 under a specific law that banned the use of plastic bags. The European association of companies, known as the European Bioplastics, focus on producing and distributing plastics that are made from renewable raw materials and are biodegradable.
The material used to make these kinds of plastics include orange peels, switchgrass, microorganisms, corn-starch or soybeans. They are also made from petrochemicals like plastic but they are designed to break down faster than regular plastics. Additives are added to hasten their rate of decay in the presence of oxygen and sunlight. These plastics breakdown or degrade when exposed to natural factors like ultraviolet radiation from the sun, natural enzymes, bacteria, water or wind erosion.
There are several existing examples of biodegradable plastic. They include polybutylene succinate (PBS), polycaprolactone (PCL), polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH/PVA), polybutyrate adipate terephthalate (PBAT).
These plastics come with more advantages:
- Easy to decompose:Biodegradable plastics are made of natural materials so they decompose easier and faster like other natural materials. Their composition adds to the fact that they are non-toxic. The natural non-toxic material makes the product safe to dispose in the soil. Moreover, their lesser time of decomposition reduces the problem of overfilled landfills.
- Lesser energy for manufacture:Though the investment for making biodegradable plastics may be high, the manufacture makes up for it. The energy consumed during the manufacture of biodegradable plastics is relatively lesser than that of regular plastics. The reason is again the material used in making them. For instance, the manufacturing of corn-based plastic or PLA is said to consume 65% less energy.
- Lower consumption of fossil fuels:Fossil fuels like petroleum is the main material used for the manufacture of conventional plastics. But biodegradable plastics are made out of non-toxic, renewable natural resources that are also good for composting.
- Non-toxic:Upon decomposing, biodegradable plastics release less harmful hazards into the environment. Conventional plastics release toxic chemicals like methane which is reduced in the case of biodegradable plastics. It also cuts down the use of lethal products like Bisphenol A, which is a carcinogen.
What We Do
It is a pressing problem that plastic waste is increasing in the environment, especially oceans and other waterbodies. Eliminating plastic waste would be possible, if there happens a worldwide transition to a circular economy, which is a model in which plastic fibre used is refurbished, reused and recycled as long as possible. Constructing a greater circular economy system for plastics requires both upstream and downstream solutions. Plastic producers guide the report’s pointers to increase and enlarge plastic-to-plastic conversion technologies, that is, superior recycling. We guide most of the report’s different 2040 goals such as,
- doubling mechanical recycling potential globally,
- scaling up series charges in both profit-centres and low-profit international locations,
- decreasing waste exports into international locations with low series and excessive leakage charges, and
- decreasing microplastic leakage through recognised solutions to key sources.
In 2018, America’s plastic makers set a purpose for all plastic packaging used withinside the United States to be fit for recovering and recycling via ways and means by 2030 and to be reused, recycled or recovered to a 100% by the time of 2040. We are already working on developing technologies like recycling infrastructure, increasing uses for recovered plastics, and pursuing progressive solutions to lessen plastics withinside the environment. Nearly five billion dollars have been introduced as private investment over the past 4 years to support modernized plastic-recycling infrastructure and increase the types and amount of plastics that may be reused and integrated right into a greater circular economy system.
We are also operating upstream to assist in putting off pointless packaging. For example, many plastic makers are operating with their clients to layout and increase new applications and packaging codecs that use plastics more efficiently, generate much less waste, and are less complicated to recycle.
Plastics Or No Plastics?
In many areas of the world, fast-growing economies are elevating humans out of poverty and into the middle class. The increasing number of developing populations depend upon plastics to get access to higher scientific and private care, more secure meals and water, green houses and vehicles, electronics, and a wide array of customer items to stay in a better life. Plastics help in enhancing hygiene, nutrition, and living requirements across the world. And light-weight plastics are inherently very convenient materials, frequently permitting us to do more with much less fabric, in comparison to alternatives.
With the world’s populatiob predicted to develop 23% to attain 10 billion by 2050, we want plastics to help humans to live better and at the same time decrease our environmental footprint. For this, the use of biodegradable plastics proves to be a good solution.