Today’s world would be very different if plastics wouldn’t have been around. They’re a very useful material and have innumerable uses in so many industries, the main focus being making our lives a lot easier. But what about the waste problem? Worry no more, as we’re going to talk about plastics made from plants!
With an endless list of uses, plastics are a vital material: it’s used in the medical field for implants and devices, it coats surfaces for repelling water, it’s used in organic batteries and of course, we get bottles and plastic forks. But the plastic debris is overwhelmingly huge: by 2025, the marine plastic debris would reach 250m tons! So how will the governments all over the world deal with this issue?
The Main Issue of Plastics Debris
A big part of this problem is caused by the single-use plastics that are about 40% of the entire global production of plastics, and this means about 128m tons of debris. Components like polypropylene will break down in millennia. And if they get to the marine environment, the plastics will fracture from exposure into sunlight and become ‘microplastics’. And this is how human life and marine life are both put in danger.
Plastic waste is a big and complicated issue, but it’s all connected to how it actually is being produced. A lot of plastics are made using materials that have an oil base, meaning there is no content of oxygen, so they’re hydrophobic. This will not allow bacteria or enzymes to break down plastic in the environment.
With a limited oil supply, there’s been a search for alternatives and finding sustainable materials. That’s how bio-based materials became the best alternative to oil-based materials. So, basically all waste crops, wood and any other matter that is a biological waste can be used to produce plastics. The great thing about it is that it’s biodegradable.
The bio materials are broken down into chemical ‘building blocks’ that can be used in creating plastics.
The Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence at the University of York is working with the plastics industry, as they’re trying to come up with polyesters that are bio-based. These polyesters are used in fibers for clothing, containers for food and water and, more importantly, they’re biodegradable.
The bio-based plastics will contain oxygen in their structure and they will be highly biodegradable. And the end goal of bio-based plastics is very far away, but we’re making a huge step forward nonetheless.
Resources Go Through a Constant Loop – The Circular Economy
Not only these materials are a solution to waste by being biodegradable, but they’re also going through the recycling phases, minimizing waste and the need to come up with new resources. Plastic waste is going to be treated not as an issue, but as a resource, so our environment will be protected and its chemical materials will also be preserved.
Consumers should reuse and recycle plastics in order to make a positive impact on the world.
Shawn and his wife live remotely in a 880-square-foot cabin along with their three dogs. They implemented many of the things they learned from the internet and trial and error. They have been helped by so many contributors over the years and desire to now return the favor to other Canadian Homsteading readers. They heat with a woodstove and cut firewood by hand from their 11 acres. They went back to the land and are essentially do-it-yourself people.