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Jul 16th, 2020 by Admin

Bioplastic – Can it really solve the plastic problem?

We all are aware of how damaging plastic has been to our planet. It has permanently damaged a lot of our wildlife and even human life. You will be shocked to know that each year, about 18 billion pounds of plastic gets dumped into the ocean. The repercussions are irreversible. We need to take concrete steps so that we can prevent this from happening again in the future.

Now, we aren’t saying that in itself is a terrible material. Plastic as a material fits many different criteria, making it ideal for industrial purposes. It is actually very versatile and durable. But this boon became a bane when overproduction and over-consumption became so rampant. It is nearly impossible to name an industry that does not use plastic or any by-product of plastic.

The benefits of plastic are numerous, but the ill-effects just can’t be ignored. This is why scientists came up with bioplastics. There is a lot of controversy about this specific material. In this article, we will have a look at whether bioplastic is really the solution to the plastic issue or not.

What are Bioplastics? What are they made of?

The simplest definition of bioplastics is that it is a plastic made out of plants or other biological materials. These plastics do not use any petroleum, hence require no mining. The most common materials used for making bioplastics are sugars that are extracted from corn and sugarcane. These sugars are then converted into PLAs or polylactic acids.

There is another method of making bioplastics, which involves making polyhydroxyalkanoates, or commonly known as PHAs. While PLA and PHA are used in a variety of industries, it is typical to find the use of PLA most prevalent in the food packing industry, and PHA in the medical industry. Production of PLA is way cheaper when you compare it to the production on PHA and it is one of the cheapest sources of bioplastics.

Advantages of Bioplastic

There are many different advantages of using bioplastics and how bioplastics are better than plastics for the environment. Some of these advantages are –

1. You don’t have to mine for oil and petroleum to produce these bioplastics. It is less invasive and does not support unfair mining practices.
2. If bioplastics become more widely available, more people will opt for them as well, making bioplastics a highly marketable product.
3. Making the use of bioplastics common will automatically result in a drop of plastic consumption and subsequently lead to less plastic litter in our environment. The plastic litter can be reduced by 90% if we focus on making bioplastics popular and affordable.
4. Most of the bioplastics come from all-natural sources and don’t have a carbon footprint.
5. These plastics are not toxic to human and environmental health. They don’t leech any harmful chemicals and are completely biodegradable.


Are Bioplastics really good for the environment?

The most common way to make bioplastic is by using corn. People who oppose the use of bioplastics often bring this point across that these plastics take away land that could be used to grow food. But to counter that, there are many claims that these lands are used in the most sustainable ways possible to make sure that the production has the least carbon footprint possible.

Another very valid concern regarding bioplastics is that we still don’t have the proper infrastructure to make sure that these plastics reach a facility where they can properly decompose. A lack of arrangement for this need would mean that these plastics can still end up in landfills or oceans, defeating the purpose of the bioplastic altogether. So before people start producing bioplastics on a high scale, enough time and resources need to be spent to make sure that these bioplastics can decompose properly.

In conclusion, the idea of bioplastics is quite spectacular. But there is still a very long way to go before we make it the norm. Once we have all the systems in place to deal with the disposing of bioplastics, we should be good to go. Then it can definitely help us control the plastic problem, if not solve it altogether.

About Plastic Collectors : Plastic Collectors is a collective of people spread all over the world who are passionate about the health of our planet and do what they can to ensure that plastic that they find strewn around mindlessly gets recycled. They conduct regular clean up drives to collect plastic and make sure it gets recycled and does not end up in the ocean or landfills. You can join the cause, or learn more about how you can help by clicking here.

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