I’m sure you are familiar with how plastic overuse negatively impacts our oceans and wildlife; therefore, the management of plastic waste should be inquired upon and dealt with in the right way. Recent studies have shown that about 20% of all our plastic waste comes from marine sources, with 8 million tonnes (around 3% of the global annual plastic waste) entering the ocean. These statistics do not only worry individuals but determine institutions to either use less plastic or switch to alternatives, more environmentally friendly resources.

Bioplastics are now a resource that can act like plastic but not affect our environment in the most damaging ways; it is created out of plants and is expected to reach a value of $14.92 billion by 2023, according to the ASEAN Post. We should consider this alternative viable and become more open to using such options instead of the ones we already know. We should change our perspectives and view of the world and start making a real change.

Plant-based plastics: Biodegradable plastic utensils
Biodegradable plastic utensils. Image: Wikipedia

The Process of Making Bioplastics

Bioplastic materials are usually made out of renewable sources (e.g. plant materials) such as biopolymers, including starch or cellulose. The coolest thing about them is that they are quite unconventional and not widely recognized as of yet, but they biodegrade more quickly and are easier to manage. At the same time, the bioplastics do not leach out harmful chemicals.

On the con side, there are some disadvantages to using bioplastics and we should discuss those as well. firstly, they are derived from food stock (which is not quite sustainable), are made of lower quality plastics, and there is a chance their recycling process could be contaminated by the use of regular plastic (mixed with bioplastic).

The Advantages of plant-based plastics

Since PLA products are non-toxic and made out of ingredients that are renewable, our Planet would be better off using these bio alternatives to plastic. Here are some of the reasons why you should do it in the long run – I decided to expand on this to give you a gist of why this is important, but feel free to add any comments or questions you want at the end of this post. We love it when people engage.

  • Bioplastic is compostable throughout other advantages and therefore supports plant life! You can use it for yourself or for your friend’s garden! Not only will you save the environment but also add something new to it, making it more friendly for animals and nature. 
  • Bioplastic is not expensive to make since there are a wide variety of facilities that currently produce PLA products. 
  • They use less energy for production and produce fewer carbon emissions during the making of regular plastic, which is nothing but a relief for our environment. 
  • In the long term, it supports crop planting and its benefits. It creates more oxygen and new sources of incoming for new farmers.
  • Despite a common misunderstanding, oil is not used as a resource in the making-of process but left aside.
  • Bioplastics can be recycled quite easily, making them a great resource for packing food or transporting any other materials. 
  • We expect to see innovative future approaches to creating bioplastic, as many new technologies are constantly emerging on the market.

The Disadvantages

“Bio plant plastic products are way healthier for our Planet than plastic – however, there are still things we must learn and modifications we must make in order to develop products that are close to perfection,” writes essay writing service UK Director, Sheena Williams. Since we do not respect living in ignorance, here are some ideas that might run through your mind when using PLAs:

  •  The PLA products can be seen as another type of waste, which is not far from general waste; some people argue that we should focus more on replacing the waste as a whole instead of generating new products that are similar to the ones we are already using. 
  • Many bioplastic products are still not able to be recycled properly in serious facilities, many people lacking access to these institutions. 
  • As of now, there is no system that can transform plastic items into bioplastic, so this is definitely something we should be working on.
  • Biodegradation can only take place under certain conditions – if those are lacking, the PLAs will not naturally degrade into the ground and become sustainable for the environment. Many places around the globe lack this infrastructure and specific biodegrading conditions, making it challenging for people to bring a change.
  • Bioplastics are not the answer to marine litter, writes Green Home. However, they are definitely a step forward to changing this world.

The Future of Bioplastics

Plastic is used everywhere throughout our world, so considering its importance is definitely something we should address. On a separate note, we will be discussing how replacing it can improve our Planet’s future life, as well as its conditions. The practical use of plastic today: 

  • Packaging – foods stay fresher when using plastic
  • Transportation – for vehicle weight and more durable outcomes
  • Energy – plastic provides insulation of energy and helps shape your home
  • Sports – many athletes use plastic patches and pads to protect them from being injured (balls and other athletic material are also made out of plastic, usually)
  • Medicine – plastic is used in medicine in many forms, usually to provide a sterile environment for the patient, but also to help injuries and assist people with disabilities
  • Electronics – cables, cords, etc. 

Now that we’ve understood the importance of plastic into our lives, let’s check the potential uses of bioplastics:

  • For packaging – yes! This exists. There are bottles and bags made out of bioplastic nowadays at various stores. The PlantBottle program is definitely something to be appreciated, so dig deeper if interested.
  • For products and clothing (PLAs)
  • For car factories – Toyota is the first company to ever use interior components made our of bioplastics
  • For telephone accessories – AT&T is just one mobile company that makes cases (and other accessories) out of the same biodegradable materials.
  • Other uses – there are other ways in which we can use these sustainable products; we just have to find a way to make it work and break the stigma associated with it. Also, further research must be conducted to understand how plastic can be transformed into bioplastic.

Conclusion

As companies move toward a more environmental-friendly, sustainable approach, people’s mentalities slowly change. Thus, behaviors will change too, along with beliefs and actions. If we take a moment to look into what has been happening to our planet for decades (which, most of us do), we will realize that what we actually need is a combination of action and change, not just brainstormed ideas. We are already making progress, but we could definitely make more.

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