Will bioplastics replace plastics?
What is bioplastic? It is a biodegradable material and could be more sustainable than plastic. Let's find out more in detail what it is, what are its uses and if it can really replace plastic one day. A key issue is its recycling compared to that of plastic. Let's take a dive between advantages and disadvantages of plastic and bioplastics.
WHAT ARE BIOPLASTICS
The bioplastic is a material that respects the environment, finally we have a substitute for plastic that does not pollute. It is obtained from organic material and to create it we use beet, corn, wheat or cereals. The bioplastic is in every way similar to plastic, but it is biodegradable: in a few months it disappears, and in some cases it can be used as a fertilizer for the soil. Plastic, on the other hand, is derived from petroleum and takes up to a thousand years to dispose of completely.
BIOPLASTICS: POSSIBLE USES IN THE FUTURE
Will these new materials that replace plastic really be able to do so in the future? In what way? Studies published by Utrecht University for the European Polysaccharide Network of Excellence and the European Bioplastics Association state that most plastics can be replaced in the not too distant future. It is hoped that the production and use of bioplastics production and use of bioplastics to double in the next few years. The costs are still higher than those of plastic, but the market is growing as institutions and states are increasingly sensitive to the issue of pollution. Central to this transition will be finding more and more ways to use bioplastics. bioplasticsfor example, not only in packaging but also in the production of tools or furniture. But above all, finding ways to recycle bioplastics as well.
HOW ARE BIOPLASTICS DISPOSED OF?
An interesting fact about bioplastics is that not only does it decompose in a short time, but it can be recycled together with plastic, but today only in low percentages (around 10%). Within this percentage the bioplastics Within this percentage, starch-based bioplastics are not detrimental to the separate collection of classic plastics. However, it is good to pay attention to the separate collection and to place the bioplastics together with biodegradable and compostable waste.
So, how to proceed with disposal of bioplastichere are some indications:
- biodegradable tableware, packaging, glasses are to be thrown in the organic;
- biodegradable bags can be used for the collection of organic waste;
- what is in bioplastic and has not been soiled by food can be thrown in the plastic without exceeding 10% of the total. This is one of the most important issues regarding bioplastics, i.e. the current capacity to recycle them, which is still not sufficient and risks sending these products to the incinerator.
An important fact about plastics is that, unfortunately, only 10 - 15% of the plastic produced is recycled and recovered. The rest is incinerated, left in landfills or dispersed in the environment polluting water and nature. About 12 million tons of plastic end up in the seas alone every year.
Plastic is recycled in various ways:
- when shredded, it is transformed into new objects that can be used again;
- if it is shredded and subjected to sorting processes, it is possible to create alternative fuels that produce energy;
- thanks to recycling If it is shredded and sorted, alternative fuels can be created to produce energy; chemical recycling returns the material to the same quality as virgin plastic and new objects can be created. But on this point there is still much to do.
The real weak point of plastic recycling is that only a small amount is actually collected properly and can go through the process. That's why the use of bioplastics can come to our rescue to save the planet from pollution.
But neither plastic recycling nor the use of alternative bio plastics today is enough to reduce plastic pollution, considered by the UN to be the most serious pollution problem. To reduce it, we need to reduce plastic production at the source and choose products that are low in plastic and possibly refillable and reusable or created from recycled plastic.