Human nature and the quest to go beyond the ordinary sometimes become the cause and determinant of the results that occur. One such pressing matter is the use of plastic, which has been challenged as a bane or a boon. Plastics are polymerized products that have been used extensively and can be molded into objects. Although nobody can deny the significance of plastic and its products in our lives but they also carry the tag of non-biodegradable products. They take centuries to decompose and are a major cause of pollution, globally. Many individuals are blind to the real sights, and deaf to the voices and concerns. No matter how ignorant one might be, you cannot ignore the major pollution crisis that it causes due to its blatant use. Though it enhances our lives in many ways, there has to be a balance between conservation of the environment and the convenience of its use. The answer to this is the use of biodegradable products. Read below for more.
What Are The Types Of Biodegradable Plastics?
- Biodegradable plastics are a new generation of polymers, which are degradable and so are environment friendly. This means that they can be disintegrated into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass, and do not release any toxic chemicals.
- Biodegradable plastics are renewable and can be recycled easily.
- They require less energy for production, reduce dependency on the use of oil, and are non-toxic.
- Biodegradable plastic is also known as oxo-biodegradable plastics, and d2w technology is used, which is the additive that converts plastic into biodegradable material.
Different Kinds Of Biodegradable Plastics
Bio Based Plastics
These are bio or starch based plastics that are made from soy, corn, or potatoes. These plastics meet the standards set by the American Society for Testing and Material (ASTM) for compostability, breaking down 60 percent or more, within 180 days or less. In order to do this, bio-based plastics need water, heat, and aeration. Bio-based plastics can take longer to decompose in landfills because of non-availability of aeration. The bio based plastics are non-recyclable. An example of bio-based plastic is the cellulose fiber plastic, which is made from reconstituted cellulose, and zein plastic, which is made from corn protein.
Thermal biodegradable plastic has an additive that causes it to break down when exposed to high temperatures. This plastic is safe to use for foods because it is non-toxic, and it can often be recycled. These plastics come with an expiry date and may start to degrade if stored in hot temperature. They also start to degrade in hot places like the trash bags and landfills.
This type of plastics needs oxygen in order to breakdown. Oxo-biodegradable plastic is less expensive to produce because it is easy to make with machinery that currently manufactures conventional plastics. When aerated it gradually breaks down into biodegradable fragments over a course of several months to a few years.
These plastics break down when exposed to humidity at a faster rate than oxo-biodegradable plastic. When combined with moisture, they expand the plastic's molecular structure and allow the bioactive compounds to metabolize and neutralize the plastic.
Biodegradation of plastics can be achieved by enabling microorganisms in the environment to metabolize the molecular structure of plastic films to produce an inert humus-like material that is less harmful to the environment. The use of bioactive compounds, compounded with swelling agents, ensures that the plastic degrades first into humus, and then into carbon dioxide or methane and water, when buried. This requires no aeration and needs nine to 19 months to break down.