What are bioplastics and how are they produced
We are finding that the industry develops novel materials more frequently and, from time to time, some of these new materials have some really promising applications in the protection of the environment. One of these examples is bioplastics, which are spreading more and more frequently and which, in a few years, could replace traditional single-use plastics.
What are bioplastics
Bioplastics are a type of plastics that are characterized by being made from organic materials (hence they are called with the prefix “bio”) and that, consequently, are biodegradable . This type of material imitates plastic but, being exquisite in its name, one cannot really be talking about plastic, since it is not produced from oil. However, because their use is primarily intended to replace single-use plastics, they have become popular under this name.
Single-use plastics include wrappers, grocery bags, sippy straws, disposable cutlery and tableware, etc. These objects, which are a common part of many actions in our daily lives, are made with different types of plastics from the petrochemical industry (the most common are polyethylene, polypropylene, or ABS and PET among many others). These plastics are not biodegradable and, consequently, their use in this type of use leads to the generation of a large amount of garbage, although the recycling of plastic bottles or fabrics made from bottles are becoming popular .
On the contrary, the use of bioplastics , despite generating the same amount of garbage, does not entail an environmental problem, since they are materials that rapidly degrade in nature, so they do not accumulate in the form of garbage.
Bioplastics are produced from plant products . Currently there are different types that have different applications depending on the use that you want to give it. In this way, derived from plants such as corn, soybeans or potatoes , allow the synthesis of substances that, when cooled, take on the appearance of a traditional plastic, but without having anything in common with it at the molecular level.
These bioplastics are manufactured from plantations that are produced expressly for this purpose. In this way, instead of distilling oil to create plastic, different plants are harvested that, through chemical processes in the laboratory, result in useful raw materials for the manufacture of bioplastics .
The development of bioplastics is not accidental, but is the response of human intelligence to the problem posed by traditional plastic . One of the main advantages of traditional plastic is that it is a very resistant material. This makes it very useful when you want to use it to make objects that should have great durability. However, when this material is applied to “throwaway” objects, the amount of plastic garbage that is produced is enormous, and impossible to manage by the environment.
There are various solutions to this problem, ranging from dispensing with the use of plastic in single-use objects to recycling waste to give it a new life. However, the reality is that more than 70% of the single-use plastic produced in many developed societies ends up in the environment and, in particular, in the oceans, which has led to it being the main pollution of the world today. most of the planet’s oceans.
Unfortunately, policies and awareness of the need to recycle and dispense with single-use plastic are not having the necessary impact and impact on some sectors of the population, causing plastic pollution to continue to increase every year . In this way, one of the possible solutions that would allow that 70% of the plastic that ends up in the environment would not be a problem, would be that the material used in consumer products was simply not plastic.
This is the objective of bioplastics , to replace traditional plastics to prevent the pollution they generate from being unsustainable. Thanks to the use of bioplastics, the packaging and wrapping remains that end up in the world’s oceans will degrade naturally by contact with water and climatic agents, destroying themselves and emitting organic molecules that do not have a harmful impact on environment.