As mentioned in the very first post, the main problem with plastics is that it doesn’t biodegrade. That it can persist in the environment for up to several centuries. In addition, plastics are also prone to mechanical degradation where it splits into numerous small ingestible microplastics.
To overcome this problem, scientist and engineers have researched and developed two new form of ‘plastics’.
‘Biodegradable plastics’ and ‘Bioplastics’ are plastics which are biobased or biodegradable.
- Bioplastics are made from natural materials such as corn starch.
- Biodegradable plastics are made from traditional petrochemicals which are engineered to break down more quickly.
Bioplastics are made from natural materials such as corn starch. Bioplastics such as Polyactide acid looks, works and behave exactly like traditional plastics compounds such as polyproplene and polyethylene. The benefit of using bioplastic is that its compostable. Instead of remaining in the environment for centuries, bioplastics decay into natural materials that blend harmlessly with soil.
Biodegradable plastics are made from traditional petrochemicals. However, they contain additives which helps to catalyze the degradation process. Biodegradable plastics decay more rapidly in the presence of UV radiation and heat exposure (Gnanavel et al., 2012)
However, if bioplastics and biodegradable plastics are so good, why haven’t they been adopted globally? The subsequent post will explore the “myth of bioplastic”
Gnanavel, G., MohanaJeyaValli, V. P., & Thirumarimurugan, M. (2012). A review of biodegradation of plastics waste. Int. J. Pharm. Chem. Sci, 1(3), 670-673.
Philp, J. C., Ritchie, R. J., & Guy, K. (2013). Biobased plastics in a bioeconomy. Trends in biotechnology, 31(2), 65-67.