Bioplastics are the solution to conventional plastics. Bioplastics are made from naturally occuring materials such as from biomass of plants, trees, or animals, and even food waste. Bioplastics reduce the dependence on fossil fuel-based raw material required for manufacturing plastic. Since bioplastics are mostly compostable, they also help keep out non-degradable plastics from being used as landfills.
Bioplastics are categorised in terms of generations. The first generation bioplastics are made out of starches/sugars: corn, sugarcane, wheat, or soya. The second generation bioplastics use cellulose from crops: sugarcane bagasse or sawdust, industrial residues such as whey. Given below are the raw materials used for bioplastics packaging and their biodegradability and specific uses.
Sugarcane, Wheat Grains, Sugarbeet:
Non-biodegrable; Packaging for all product kinds and bottles.
Degradable in 180 days in compost; Films food packaging, bottles, foamed trays.
Degradable in 60 days – 1 year in soil: Films food packaging.
Potato, Wheat, Rice (Starches):
Degradable in 14 days – 100 days; Films food packaging.
Sugarcane Wood (Cellulose):
Degradable in 150 days; Films food packaging.
The pakaging material is selected based on the antimicrobial capability, mechanical properties, thermal properties, optical properties, eco-friendliness, and good barrier properties (keeping off gas, vapor, smell). The same criterions hold good for bioplastic materials as well. Here we see that
bioplastics have some issues.
Bioplastics do not offer water barrier properties, are known to be brittle, allow air to permeate, and show low heat resistance. The solution is in strengthening the bioplastic material using fillers. This would improve the mechanical property, the barrier property, and the heat deflection properties. Fillers/additives such as cellulose, silica, silver nanoparticles, and metal oxides (zinc, magnesium, and titanium oxides) can be used to reinforce bioplastic packagings. One needs to take into account the dangers due to human consumption while deciding on the filler.
The packaging industry will certainly contribute immensely to the humankind by choosing bioplastics over plastic/polymers. Consultiger is excited at the opportunity bioplastics offer. If you are an expert in bioplastics or need help with bioplastics, please do visit the Consultiger site.