Bioplastic instead of plastic for packaging
What are the challenges of transitioning to bioplastic from plastics in developing countries vs. developed countries?
If we are to stop using plastics all together in a near future we need to find a solution that works with the current market demands. Bioplastics may seem like a good option, especially when it comes to packaging, but how do we prevent ocean pollution with bioplastics instead of plastics? The bioplastic is still not biologically degradable to the extent necessary if we want to avoid accumulating garbage in the oceans. Are there other systems that can be put into place as we introduce bioplastics? For example retake systems that will not only encourage the transition to bioplastics, but keeping them in the loop rather than being discarded into nature?
In the contemporary scenario, much attention has been focused on extensive research across the globe to replace petroleum-based commodity plastics, in a cost-effective manner, with biodegradable materials offering competitive mechanical properties. Bioplastics play an increasingly important role for consumer products. All these newly designed materials might increase product sustainability, but they are currently confined to niche markets. When compared to their petroleum-based counterparts, bioplastics can be biodegradable, sustainable, more environmentally friendly (lower greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel usage) and/or should be a renewable option to plastic product production. Although there are still certain limitations in implementation of bioplastics as the main packaging materials, it remains a main material as a suitable replacement for petroleum-based plastics. Extensive research work is being done for comparing the superiority of bioplastic over conventional petroleum-based plastic under various conditions. The main limitations lie in sourcing sustainable ingredients for building bioplastics and building materials with mechanical properties comparable to conventional plastics.
I tend to agree that bioplastics is no solution. This may hold even more as biodegradation in bad light and anoxic conditions in deep oceans may be slower than on land. The real solution is to ban plastic bags, but this is only part of the solution. Recycling or thermal recycling may be the way forward. This requires a lot of investments, but once coupled with other infrastructural requirements this is the real long-term solution. As always, prevention is cheaper than sanitation. See our review as well: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10668-016-9760-4