Bioplastic – Understanding the Major Issues

Bioplastic is a widely used term now to distinct new ways of production, which should reduce the use of oil-based plastic.  Some scientists regard it as a solution to the plastic pollution problem, yet the issue is much more complex. First of all, this is an extremely broad term that includes various types of substances. Secondly, it is important to evaluate the cost and the actual influence on nature. This will help in figuring out whether it is more sustainable and environmentally-friendly.

If you are a student having an assignment for the environment-related subject, there are a few options. You can easily purchase essay on a given subject from professionals. Or, if you want to do everything on your own, let’s have a closer look at the term and what it means.

What is meant by Bioplastic

Bioplastic can refer to two kinds of things – the ones that are made of renewable bio ingredients instead of fossil fuel and to the materials that are biodegradable. Bio-based plastic is produced from alternative sources, such as corn starch, beet sugar, hemp, or even mango. There are several sources that can be used in such manufacture.

Biodegradable materials are ones that can be broken down by enzymes present in nature. It means that they can be manufactured from a renewable source, but still be not biodegradable and vice versa. It is hard to find a solution that will address both issues – production and recycling.

Alternative materials can solve one of the problems. They can either reduce the usage of fossil fuels or solve the recycling and degradability issues.

Biodegradable Doesn’t Mean Harmless

The next issue is that even if a thing can be degradable, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is not harmful to the environment. First of all, there are several kinds of degradability.

Degradable Items

Basically, any plastic is degradable, but in different circumstances. The traditional one can be degraded and recycled in an industrial environment. However, it cannot be reduced to the materials simply returning to nature.

Nowadays, some bioplastics are more degradable, but they still leave a microplastic residue that pollutes the environment. For example, there is oxo-degradable material dependent on oxygen influence. Yet, it still pollutes nature; that’s why the EU wants to ban it.

Biodegradable

It means that the item can be broken down into natural material, such as water, carbon dioxide, and compost by microorganisms. Yet, it requires specific conditions, mostly at a particular temperature.  If such material is simply thrown into the ocean, it will not be naturally eliminated.

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Compostable

Such items degrade on compost site up to carbon dioxide, water, inorganic waste, and biomass. Biodegradable plastic can be produced from traditional petrochemicals (oil-based). At the same time, material produced from renewable sources can be as hard to break down as a traditional one.

Other Issues With Bioplastic Materials

There are several concerns that these new ways of manufacturing plastics raise. They show that there should be much more research and planning done before naming something an ultimate solution.

  • Bioplastic materials are not necessarily much better for the environment. The manufacturing process might affect the nature as well. For instance, the production of Polybutylene Succinate (PBS), a biodegradable substitute for propylene, results in a huge amount of greenhouse gases. Eventually, it is not much better for nature.
  • They are not cheap. Unfortunately, from a capitalistic point of view, there is no market demand for such innovations. They are much more costly for businesses. The main reason to introduce them into wide use is an environmental concern and governmental actions. Otherwise, huge corporations won’t be interested.
  • They are not easy to recycle or decompose. The majority of these materials cannot be recycled by the same plants that recycle oil-based formulas. If they get into the same plant, they are going to pollute and decrease the quality of the material. It means that there have to be new factories to recycle these particular elements.

Conclusion

Bioplastic is a broad term that refers to various options regarding sources and degradability. It attracts a lot of attention from scientists, researchers, and the general public as the environmental situation is declining.

Some of the professionals claim that it is the future that will have little to no impact on nature. However, in reality, the issue is more complex. It requires further research into extended effects, possible recycling, and affordability.

Nowadays, bioplastic has only 1% on the market. It grows steadily, but nothing like traditional manufacturing. The issue needs governmental measures taken in terms of funding research and banning harmful practices. As of now, it is a long journey to substitute all oil-based material with a greener option.

Benefits of Biodegradable Packaging for Businesses

Consumers want companies to reflect their values. They’re far more likely to purchase from a business with an identity, whether it manifests in charitable efforts or eco-friendly practices. As a greater number of people show interest in green living, biodegradable packaging presents an opportunity for growth.

That said, the virtues of biodegradable packaging extend beyond an improved public image. While business owners enjoy the superficial advantages of this transition, they often find it’s only a fraction of what the shift entails. Through switching to biodegradable plastics, they see considerable changes elsewhere.

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In this article, we’ll detail five of those changes, exploring the subject to lend business owners a better understanding of biodegradable packaging within their operation. As we touch on the benefits, it’ll become clear that eco-friendly materials aren’t only better for the environment, but better for a company’s bottom line.

Free of Toxins & Allergens

Biodegradable packaging options are still somewhat limited, but most of the available materials are non-toxic and allergy-free. This is an essential consideration to consumers who care about the products they’re purchasing and the composition of their packaging. If either is potentially harmful, it hurts a business.

An informed consumer will almost invariably choose products packaged with bioplastic over traditional alternatives, aware of the implications of their purchase. Considering the negative health effects of phthalates — a common chemical in plastic packaging — business owners should be aware of the implications as well.

Require Fewer Resources

Biodegradable packaging has the potential to reduce water usage, solid waste, electricity and emissions. This is beneficial for the environment, of course, but it also lowers expenses associated with the packaging process. Over time, the accumulated savings prove well worth the cost of the transition.

If a company were to replace their standard packaging materials with bioplastic, they would enjoy weight savings on par with regular plastic. Research shows plastic packaging enables weight savings of over 78 percent compared to alternative materials, a notable statistic for business owners looking to convert.

Lower Production Costs

Most biodegradable materials follow the three basic R’s of sustainability.

  1. A business can reduce them, using fewer resources to create thinner and tougher materials which do the same job.
  2. A business can reuse them, taking advantage of materials with special coating which improves their durability.
  3. A business can recycle them, diverting refuse from landfills as they minimize the costs of new materials.

A business owner who invests in biodegradable packaging can cut costs by a significant margin, using fewer resources, reusing their inventory and purchasing inexpensive recycled materials. In doing so, they’ll see reduced packaging expenses over time, and more freely allocate their money elsewhere.

Reusing packaging is proving to be not only environmentally friendly, but an excellent marketing advantage. From Pinterest to Instagram, users are finding a way to re-purpose packaging. Business owners who are vocal in encouraging their customers to prioritize environmentally friendly choices can earn more goodwill and local business as a result. ToolTally is a good example of a blog that focuses on helping DIYers reuse products, and is growing an organic following as a result.

Reduced Footprint

A business owner has financial goals they have to meet, but they have environmental goals as well. Every professional in an upper-management position has a responsibility to ensure their company meets high standards of environmental compliance, and biodegradable packaging can help — outside a legal context.

To reinforce an earlier point, 70 percent of consumers between the ages of 15 and 20 want to buy goods from companies committed to sustainability, and biodegradable plastics affect the appeal of businesses which would otherwise see less attention. To reduce emissions and increase interest, change is necessary.

Convenient Disposal

Recyclable, compostable and biodegradable packaging simplifies disposal for the consumer. It affords them more options in discarding these materials, and companies should always seek to make their products convenient, from start to finish. Biodegradable materials exemplify this mindset.

For example, consumers who prefer to compost their refuse won’t have to make exceptions for packaging. They can add biodegradable packaging to their compost in much the same way they would with any other compost-friendly material, contributing to the product’s value beyond its primary utility.

Looking Toward the Future

When reviewing the benefits listed above, business owners should feel confident in their decision to adopt biodegradable packaging. More than superficial benefits, they’ll enjoy reduced costs and carbon emissions while increasing consumer convenience and reducing plastic pollution. The advantages are clear.

Looking toward the future, it’s safe to speculate more companies will transition toward eco-friendly practices. With this in mind, taking action now is the best option, and though biodegradable packaging is a small step, it’s an important one.