Million upon millions of plastic items are choking our oceans, seas, rivers and landfills. The main problem with plastic is its resistance to outdoor conditions. We can affirm it hasn’t been created to biodegrade easily. On average, items take between 600-1000 years to naturally disintegrate. But even if the material decomposes, harmful chemicals seep into ground water and make it less safe to drink. Our common plastics bags are very light, which means they are easily blown away by wind. Nearly 9 million tons of plastic end up in oceans annually, at a rate of 150 plastic bags a year for every human on earth, are you contributing your fair share and being conscious about it?
Researchers all around the globe are creating technologies that decompose plastic safely. Lately we have heard a lot about edible plastic that dissolve into water. Such plastics are invented to decompose completely in three to four months, when left outside. One of the pioneer companies named Solubag created in Chile has also come up with its own biodegradable and water-soluble plastic bags. Their formula, utilizing a derivative of limestone instead of benzene (oil) by-products, change the behavior of plastic from indestructible to soluble, reducing its degradation time from 150 years to a few minutes.
With Proudly, China is presenting its own version of biodegradable plastic, as well. They provide water-soluble laundry bags, fishing bags, PVA bags for chemical packaging and artificial wigs etc. They manufacture fully biodegradable packaging materials and all types of water-soluble products. Thanks to them, conscious fishermen don’t pollute anymore when loosing a net in the ocean, and you can even stop transposing dirty clothes in the machine by just leaving the bag in there!
In Spain, Plasticos Hidrosolubles has created biodegradable film along with other innovations. They have made biodegradable plastic bags, bottles, golf balls, pellets and filaments etc. All of their products are biodegradable and eco-friendly.
在西班牙，Plasticos Hidrosolubles 创造了可生物降解的薄膜与其他创新产品。他们制造了可生物降解塑料袋、瓶罐、高尔夫球、圆球和丝线等等。他们所有的产品皆为可生物降解且环保。
There are several ways through which edible and water soluble bags are made. Some are made from Cassava root, a common regional plant in Indonesia. A new form of edible/biodegradable packaging is made by using milk proteins and are utilized as a casein around food products. These casein films are about 450 times better than plastic at keeping the food fresh and less exposed to oxygen. They do not contain starch so it is less porous and more effective in oxygen blocking from food containers.
Advantages of Water-Soluble Plastics
These new kind of bioplastics will reduce carbon emission during the process of its manufacture and decomposition. They also require less energy and do not require fossil fuel for recycling. These are 100% recyclable and are non-toxic to environment.
Why haven’t water-soluble plastics reached the mass market yet?
In spite of having more benefits over traditional plastics, bioplastics still have some shortcomings. They are at least 6 times more expensive as compared to traditional plastics. Also, it isn’t easy to find industrial composters and the availability of the machinery and skilled labor in some countries can be a problem.
Moreover, these plastics are plant based which means that they are coming from natural sources, these are not even available in most of the countries. These plants are sprayed with fertilizers and pesticides that can contaminate the crops and be transferred to humans.
Expensive and time-consuming research and testing of new bio-based plastics and biodegradable plastics have pushed bioplastics at a commercial disadvantage as compared to petrochemical-based plastics. Bioplastics are less than one percent of all plastics produced worldwide. However, the industry in bio plastics has not grown as rapidly as was predicted by some.
There are predictions that when bioplastics will reach 5% of the plastics market in 2020, the market for bio plastics will be worth about 5.8 billion dollars, almost three times the value of the bioplastics market in 2014. It’s expected that global plastic production over the next 20 years could come from plants. However, there is still a long way to go and with more new inventions coming in as alternatives, we are each time one step closer to commercialize and replace petrochemical-based plastics.
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