Tech in Focus : Bioplastics
Plastic is the 3rd most commonly used petroleum product in the world with200 million tons of plastic are consumed annually on the planet. Plastic comes from a non-renewable source (petroleum) and is highly contaminating and non-biodegradable.
Plastics take over 1000 years to decompose.
Countries such as Bangladesh have prohibited traditional plastic bags as they jam the sewage pipes, causing them to burst and cause flooding.
Plastic waste is also the cause of the death of marine species and fowl that accidentally eat them.
It also poses a serious environmental problem, such as garbage patches (islands of garbage) like the Pacific Garbage Patch.
Bioplastics are plastics which are derived from renewable biomass sources, such as vegetable fats and oils, corn starch, straw, woodchips, food waste, etc. It can be made from agricultural by-products.
Less than 15% of the world’s plastic is recycled, with the rest incinerated, abandoned or sent to landfill. Biodegradable plastic offers a solution but lacks the strength of conventional materials. A breakthrough idea promotes the circular economy by using cellulose or lignin from plant waste, which increases material strength without using crops that could otherwise be used for food.
What the future holds?
Bioplastics is expected to cover the needs of 10% of the European plastics market within 10 years.