Robert Mann – Bioplastics

By January 15, 2013 Sciences No Comments

Over the past few decades, a revolutionary idea has arrived on the scene: Bioplastics. One might think that anything that is supposed to be “environmentally friendly” or “green” must be a good idea. However, in their current state, bioplastics are inefficient. Bioplastics are a type of plastic that come from renewable sources such as vegetable fats and oils, corn starch, and many other sources. Many bioplastics decompose over time at the same rate as paper and do not rely on fossil-fuels like common plastics. Despite these positive effects, bioplastics are currently not worth implementing.

Even though bioplastics are not currently used on a large scale, they still have a variety of possible practical applications. Bioplastics.com sells products for molecular biologists to use in labs such as pipette tips, tubes, racks, and boxes. Each of these tools can be made from bioplastics. Many of the glass tools students use during experiments can be replaced with reusable and biodegradable instruments. Also, Bioplastics.us explores the idea of Biothane, which is a substance made from layers of bioplastics. Biothane is coated webbing already used in the military, medical field, and in sports. Biothane is also a key safety component in rock climbing and other related fields because it is used for harnesses, belts, and straps. Without a doubt, bioplastics are relevant to a wide variety of occupations and are becoming more available to the world.

Despite their variety of uses, bioplastics should not be implemented because of their negative effects. Discovery.com states that some petroleum plastics have less environmental effect than bioplastics. To create bioplastics requires a great amount of energy, and the energy put into making bioplastics outweighs the energy given back to the soil when they decompose. In addition, Time.com reports that not all bioplastics decompose, and they must be disposed of properly or else they will not break down. Some bioplastics can fully decompose (a Sun Chips bag) or only partially decompose (a water bottle where the cap does not break down with the rest of the bottle). Bioplastics are currently more of a hassle than a help. Thus, because bioplastics are a recent idea, they are only sometimes biodegradable and often use more resources than they give back to the soil.

In conclusion, bioplastics are relatively new idea that explores making objects that can return to the soil and look like soil. The definition of something that is compostable is an object that is biodegradable, disintegrates, and leaves no toxic material. Based on this definition, many bioplastics do not meet these criteria even though they are designed to meet each of these standards. Some objects made from bioplastic only partially disintegrate, while others break down very slowly. The availability of these bioplastics is scarce because they cannot be made quickly. The applications of bioplastics are in a wide variety, but again, the process is tedious and time-consuming. To conclude, bioplastics could be a great tool in the world’sfuture but are too unpredictable currently to make a significant impact.

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Works Cited

1. N. p. http://cordis.europa.eu/search/index.cfm?

fuseaction=proj.document&CFTOKEN=19120 617&PJ_RCN=7901178&CFID=6808047. CORDIS services, 1 June 2005. Web. 30 September 2012.

2. Chen, G. and Patel, M. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioplastic#cite_note-2. Chemical Reviews, n. d. Web. 30 September 2012.

3. N. p. http://www.bioplastics.com/. BIOplastics, 2010. Web. 30 September 2012.

4. N. p. http://www.bioplastics.us/. Bioplastics Company, 2006-2012. Web. 30 September 2012.

5. Marshall, Jessica. http://news.discovery.com/earth/bioplastic-plant-plastic-evironmental.html. Discovery News, 6 December 2010. Web. 30 September 2012.

6. Dell, Kristina. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0, 9171, 1983894, 00.html. TIME Magazine U. S., 3 May 2010. Web. 30 September 2012.

7. N. p. http://worldcentric.org/biocompostables/bioplastics. World Centric, 2004-2012. Web. 30 September 2012.

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