Bioplastics are interesting materials for two reasons:
They can reduce our dependence on petroleum in their production by using renewable feedstocks such a corn,sugar cane,chicken feathers,algae,cashews etc. They can be formulated in ways that allow the material to degrade. Allowing for the plastics to lose the permanence for which they have often been scorned.
Both these concepts are important in the goal of environmental sustainability. An ideal that does not “save the earth”but rather preserves a more pleasant environment for future generations of humans and wildlife.
Bioplastics are not perfect. As useful materials they are still . . . →Read More:Two concepts of Bioplastics –Degradability and Renewability
I love learning more about bioplastics by watching other people’s explanations on the materials and their value. BASF has released a video advertising their ecoflex material. The video is German subtitled in English. I have quoted the video below for those who don’t have the patience to watch the clip. The scientist at BASF has several points about how biodegradable can fill certain needs of plastics,but for some items more durable materials may be needed.
Worth the watch,although I’m quite sure that the European infrastructure is much more biodegradable polymer friendly.
When scientists refer to plastics . . . →Read More:A video by BASF –Using Biodegradable Plastics Intelligently
Microstructures made from designer proteinsBASF –The Chemical Company
An important family of bioplastics and one that is often unfortunately synonymous in the mind of the general public is biodegradable plastic. But what is meant by biodegradable?
Merriam Webster dictionary defines biodegradable as follows
capable of being broken down especially into innocuous products by the action of living things (as microorganisms)
But being biodegradable means much more than simply being broken down. A plastic can be degraded to pieces smaller than grains of sand and still be polymer chains. . . . →Read More:Terminology – Biodegradation
If you are already a bioplastic insider,you have certainly seen the recent articles around the web about the expected growth of bioplastics through 2015. It’s exciting news,not only for those of us interested in the plastics industry but also for people who are environmentally conscious.
The according to the BCC Research Report titled:Bioplastics:Technologies and Global Markets published in September 2010 the usage of bioplastics is expected to grow at a 41% annual growth rate through 2015. This means a growth from 571,712 metric tons in 2010 to 3,230,660 metric tons in 2015.
The graph in . . . →Read More:The Booming Bioplastic Industry
Bioplastics are often used to describe plastics that are biodegradable,but there are other requirements. The book Green Plastics by E.S. Stevens defines bioplastics as follows:
“Bioplastics is a concise –and suitable –name for biodegradable plastics whose components are derived entirely or almost entirely from renewable raw materials. A bioplastic contains one or more biopolymeric substances as an essential substance.
-E.S. Stevens 2002
Bioplastics may include a combination of biopolymer(s),plastizer(s) and other additive(s). Since this book was written 8 years has elapsed and the definition of bioplastic has evolved and shifted slightly.
. . . →Read More:Terminology –Bioplastics
This blog has often presented bioplastics in both it’s positive and negative lights. This is an attempt to help people make their own decisions about what they will be purchasing and to understand some of the outlying issues. I sometimes worry that the negatives are weighed more heavily in people’s minds. But we must remember some important facts.
Development of new technologies takes time:Bioplastics in actual packaging applications are relatively in their infancy. They may still have some kinks to work out but scientists and companies are taking steps towards a future when our vehicles have exhausted petroleum . . . →Read More:Why care about immerging bioplastic technologies?
Companies are starting to understand the impact their material choices have on the environment. Papermate,known as a pen manufacturer,has recently come out with a pen with components that will biodegrade in about a year when buried in soil or placed in an industrial compost facility. These pens,known as Papermate Biodegradable,require some user disassembly before disposal.
The biodegradable components of the pen are molded using a material branded Mirel. It is a biodegradable corn-based bioplastic made from renewable resources. Mirel is a PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate) plastic as opposed to the better known PLA.
From the Mirel Website:
. . . →Read More:Papermate Plant a Pen Challenge
Bioplastics from renewable resources often get slammed for taking materials from possible food sources. So I was very excited when I found out about a project in the running for the Pepsi Refresh Project:bioplastics from chicken feathers. This material uses a chicken meat production byproduct to make a keratin based biodegradable plastic. The material saves feathers from going into landfills and then can decompose. The Eastern Bioplastics is seeking $50,000 from the refresh project,be sure to vote here.
Modern Plastics Worldwide magazine recently wrote a piece about Keratin based plastics and their front runner Eastern Bioplastics. . . . →Read More:Keratin plastics –Feathers Tickle Imaginations
Just like recycling is useless unless we create a market for post-recycled product. Bioplastics are useless unless we establish the proper waste management infrastructure to allow them to decompose.
When Sunchips released their new compostable chip bags earlier this year,it was the talk of the environmental blogs. These bags could decompose in as little as 14 weeks under optimal compost conditions.
Just one problem,most Americans do not compost. I have the luxury of living in a rural area where I can have a compost bin in a location that does not bother my household . . . →Read More:Change the world by Changing your Community
Disclaimer:My husband is a member of the Brooks ID (Inspire Daily) team. This means that he gets discounts on Brooks gear. This post has nothing to do with that small sponsorship and Brooks doesn’t even know (or probably care) that I’m writing it. If someone at Brooks does take notice of this blog posting,my husband is not involved in this blog post in any way.
This Christmas,the only thing I asked for was a pair of trail running shoes. My husband,an ultramarathoner extraordinaire,purchased a pair of Brooks Cascadias for me. A pair of shoes . . . →Read More:These shoes have Biodegradable Soles