First let's have a look what plastic is exactly. Within this concept is every kind of artificial substance we take out of raw materials such as petroleum, natural gass and plants. Plastic in general consists out of so called 'polymeres'. These are molecules who exist out of the same parts every single time. Look at it as a necklace with the same beads. Every material has polymeres, also wood or rubber. But the ones in plastic are artificial.
Plastic is created with these parts and then devided in three categories. Thermoplastics, get soft when heated, thermosets, which keep the same shape when heated, and elastomers, the elastic kind of plastic. The thermoplastics (toys and styrofoam) and elastomers (gloves) are 'alright' to recycle. The thermosets are not. This stuff is practically indestructable.
IS BIOPLASTIC OUR SAVIOUR?
Now the society's emphasis is more and more on sustainability, there's more need for plastics that are less harmful for the environment. And there: the birth of bioplastic. In stead of using petroleum, it's made from vegetable substances as corn starch, sugar cane or seaweed. Doesn't sound too shabby, right? Though, it doesn't mean bioplastics don't harm the environment. There were two species of bioplastics developed: biobased plastics and bio degradable plastics. But not all biobased plastics are biologiscal degradable and not all biological degradable plastics are biobased. Still got it?
Bioplastics are just slightly better then regular plastic. But it still doesn't effect on our disposable loving culture. Bioplastics were designed to replace disposable packages. So we still just use that bottle one time and then throw it out. As long as we don't invest in more sustainable or reusable packages, we would still throw out valuable material. Single using is not sustainable.
Biological degradable plastic needs around 12 weeks to degrade in a special composting installation. You can't just throw it with your green garbage, but also not at your plastic garbage because this would effect the other plastics, Dutch Environmental Centre says. So it will join the rest while burning in the oven. When it accedentally got on the streets or in the grass, bioplastics would degrade. But instead of 'disappear', the ground would suck it up and the earth gets full of microplastics. So let's keep trying to find a garbage bin.
Bioplastics also find their way into the ocean, swimming next to their 'normal' kind. Bioplastics would not help reducing plastics in the sea. Because it doesn't degrade, according to research from the United Nations. Sealife still can choke on it or get stuck in there.
So bioplastics are not the sollution right now. We think it's important to focus on reducing plastic use or reuse the material. That's why you don't find biobased plastics or biodegradable plastics here at Oceonics. Just try to use as little plastic as possible at whatever you do. And maybe starting in the bathroom.
Take a peek here to give your plastic free lifestyle a boost.