biodegradable plastic review paper
Biodegradable Plastics: A Review Paper
Plastics have become an integral part of our daily lives due to their versatility, durability, and cost-effectiveness. However, their widespread use and improper disposal have led to severe environmental consequences. In recent years, there has been increasing concern about the accumulation of plastic waste in landfills and oceans, leading to calls for more sustainable alternatives.
One such alternative is biodegradable plastics. Biodegradable plastics are designed to break down naturally in the environment, reducing the persistence of plastic waste. In this review paper, we will delve into the characteristics, advantages, and limitations of biodegradable plastics.
Biodegradable plastics are made from various materials, including starch, cellulose, and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA). Starch-based biodegradable plastics are derived from renewable resources such as corn, wheat, or potatoes. They have good mechanical properties and are capable of degrading into carbon dioxide and water under specific conditions. However, they are susceptible to moisture, limiting their applications.
Cellulose-based biodegradable plastics are derived from plant fibers and have good mechanical strength and biodegradability. They are often used in packaging materials and disposable products. However, their production cost is relatively high.
PHA-based biodegradable plastics are produced by bacterial fermentation of renewable resources. They possess good mechanical properties and are biodegradable under various environmental conditions. However, their high production cost and limited availability hinder their widespread adoption.
The advantages of biodegradable plastics are evident. They reduce the accumulation of plastic waste in landfills and oceans, minimizing their adverse effects on wildlife and ecosystems. Biodegradable plastics also have reduced carbon footprint compared to traditional plastics, as they are derived from renewable resources. Moreover, they can help mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions during production and disposal.
Another advantage of biodegradable plastics is their potential for closed-loop recycling. Biodegradable plastics can be recycled along with other organic waste, such as food scraps, into compost. This compost can then be used as a nutrient-rich soil amendment, closing the loop and reducing reliance on synthetic fertilizers. However, challenges such as collection and separation of biodegradable plastics from other waste streams need to be addressed for efficient recycling.
Despite their numerous advantages, biodegradable plastics also have limitations. The definition of "biodegradable" can be ambiguous, as different plastics have varying rates and conditions for degradation. Some biodegradable plastics require specific environmental conditions, such as industrial composting facilities, to degrade properly. If not disposed of correctly, they may persist in the environment or release harmful byproducts during degradation.
Furthermore, there is a lack of standardized testing methods and certification schemes for biodegradable plastics. This makes it challenging for consumers and businesses to identify and differentiate genuine biodegradable plastics from conventional plastics. Standardization and certification of biodegradable plastics will be crucial for establishing consumer trust and promoting their adoption.
In conclusion, biodegradable plastics offer a promising solution to the environmental issues associated with traditional plastics. Their ability to degrade naturally reduces plastic waste accumulation and potential harm to ecosystems. However, challenges such as production cost, availability, and proper disposal need to be addressed for widespread adoption. Moreover, industry collaboration and government regulations are essential for developing standardized testing methods and certification schemes to ensure the integrity and reliability of biodegradable plastics.
The future of biodegradable plastics hinges on technological advancements, improved infrastructure for recycling and composting, and increased consumer awareness. By embracing biodegradable plastics and transitioning towards a circular economy, we can make significant strides towards a more sustainable future.