What are Bio-inspired plastics? How are they manufactured? Discuss their current and potential applications

One of the major issues with plastic is that it is a disaster for the environment. Bio-inspired plastics can be the solution to this problem. Bio-inspired plastics are based on biological structures or processes. Shrilk is one such example of bio-inspired plastic. It is made from insect cuticles and the strength of shrimp shells and spider silk helps in the formation of such plastic.
Most of the bioplastics are made from cellulose, which is a plant-based polysaccharide material. However, Shrilk is manufactured from chitosan, which is a form of chitin. Chitin is the second-most abundant organic material on Earth, which shows that there is the immense potential of its use. Discarded shrimp shells are one of the sources of chitin in the world.
Applications:
Since bio-inspired plastics environmentally friendly, they can act replacement of plastic. Apart from that Bio-inspired plastics may be used for short-term electronics equipment. This will help in reduction of waste from discarded consumer electronics.
Also, Bio-inspired plastic can be used to make trash bags, packaging, and diapers.
Since the components of such plastic are non-harmful and FDA approved, bio-inspired plastic such as Shrilk may be useful for creating implantable foams, films and scaffolds for surgical closure, wound healing, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine applications.
Presently only 3% of plastic produced by the human being is recycled and the remaining plastic breaks down in ocean and landfills where they adversely affect the food chain and environment. Technological solutions like Bio-inspired plastic can help in better management of such issues without environmental hazard.

Question for UPSC Mains:
What are Bio-inspired plastics?  How are they manufactured? Discuss their current and potential applications

Published: September 27, 2017 | Modified:November 26, 2019

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