Plastics are durable and flexible, but they are made from heated carbon and other materials that are not good for the environment. They are non-biodegradable and cannot be recycled as well. Although plastics are inseparable in our daily lives and we cannot imagine living without it, there are environmentally friendly alternatives that we can use to at least lessen its negative impact on Mother Earth.
Glass is made from sand and not made from fossil fuels unlike plastics. This is a renewable thing that doesn’t have chemicals which can come in contact with your food and body. It can be easily recycled too and can be made into new bottles and reused glass jars for storage.
Reusable Shopping Bags
Most supermarkets offer plastic bag alternatives today. Some of it have patterns and some reusable packaging are printed with the establishment’s name. These reusable bags come in canvas, cotton, hemp, leather, fiber, and woven plastic. The nylon ones can be folded up into a pouch and small enough to suit in your pocket. The good point about avoiding plastic bags is you don’t have much to accumulate and stock in your cupboards.
While some are preoccupied in making plastic alternatives, there are some who are making conventional biodegradable thermoplastics by using metal compound additives called prodegradant concentrates (PDCs). PDCs undergo oxidation processes that turn plastics into brittle and low-molecular-weight fragments. As fragments disintegrate, they turn into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass that contain no harmful residues. These additives are used to produce single-use plastic packaging like food containers, disposable diapers, landfill covers, thin plastic shopping bags, and trash bags. While the additives are not completely biodegradable, PDC-containing polymers are eco-friendlier than purer polymer that stock in landfills for several years.
Scientists indicate that milk protein can help produce a biodegradable plastic to make insulation, furniture cushions, packaging, and other products. Researchers are reconsidering casein, the main protein present in milk, into a biodegradable material that complements the compressibility and stiffness of polystyrene. The contemporary milk-based plastic doesn’t crack easily, and it is less toxic.
The United States found out that disposing of chicken feathers is a problem, but with the help of innovation, they can be a material useful to make a water-resistant thermoplastic. Chicken feathers are consist of keratin, a tough and durable protein like plastics. It can be found in hair and wool. The keratin-based plastic is proven to be more resistant to tearing than other plastics made from soy, starch, and other agricultural sources. It is cost-effective, renewable, and fully biodegradable.
Liquid wood looks, feels and acts like plastics but unlike petroleum-based plastic, this is biodegradable and suitable for various product packaging. Some researchers use this as substitute to make toys, golf tees, and hi-fi speaker boxes.
Polycaprolactone is a synthetic aliphatic polyester that’s not created from renewable resources but could degrade after weeks of composting. The process is easy, but it is seldom used because of its manufacturing costs.
Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) polyesters are biodegradable plastics that resemble with man-made polypropylene. They are less flexible than petroleum-based plastics, and useful in in plastic films, injection-molded bottles, and packaging.
Polylactic acid (PLA) is an aliphatic polyester and can be made from lactic acid. PLA can also be created from wheat or sugarcane. It has the ability to decompose within forty-seven days in an industrial composting site, and it would not release toxic fumes when burned. It is open to new packaging applications for green plastic, automotive parts, and coffee cups.