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 (a species of cannabis), 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.