Biodegradable plastic is a type of plastic that can be broken down into carbon dioxide, water and biomass by microorganisms in the environment. These plastics are often made from renewable resources such as plant starch, cellulose, seaweed and other plant-based materials.
Biodegradable plastics typically break down within a few months. These plastics are non-toxic, so they don’t release any harmful chemicals into the environment.
They are a great alternative to traditional plastics as they are more sustainable and reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfills.
This article focuses on seaweed bioplastics, and compares them with common compostable biodegradable plastics in the market, lists the advantages and disadvantages of both, and clears your doubts about the two.
Biodegradable seaweed plastic also known as seaweed film, polyethylene glycol film, is a bioplastic film using seaweed and polyethylene glycol (PEG-3000) developed by the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) of India. The bioplastic film has physical and mechanical properties similar to conventional plastics.
Seaweed films can be broken down by microbes in the environment into carbon dioxide, water and biomass. These plastics are designed to break down quickly in the environment, usually within a few months. Seaweed and polyethylene glycol, both are renewable resources and non-toxic, so the seaweed film can safely decompose in the environment without leaving any toxicity.
It is a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional plastic films. A combination of seaweed and polyethylene glycol was found to be the perfect combination to create strong, flexible, biodegradable films.
This plastic has a low melting point and is highly resistant to heat and humidity. It is also highly flexible and can be used in a variety of applications, such as food packaging and medical devices, and can also be used to make thin, flexible sheets.
Biodegradable seaweed plastic (made from seaweed and polyethylene glycol) typically takes 3 to 6 months to fully decompose, depending on environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity and the presence of microbes. Depending on the exact composition of the plastic, it may take longer or shorter.
This biodegradable algal membrane can be used in a variety of applications, including:
In fact, red algae (kappaphycusalvarezii), a type of seaweed, is an important commercial source of carrageenan and other products with a wide range of industrial applications. These algae are highly gelatinous and can be grown inexpensively in a short period of time (45 days), requiring only sunlight and no fresh water or chemicals.
They are also a potential source of polymers, similar to terrestrial plant-based polymers, that can be used to make food packaging and shipping bags, favoring good oxygen and moisture permeability. Oxygen permeability and moisture permeability are two basic parameters for fresh produce packaging. Red seaweed could be an environmental savior when it comes to replacing harmful plastics, say scientists at NIOT.
Biodegradable plastics offer many advantages over conventional petroleum-based plastics. They are less harmful to the environment and more biodegradable. They are also more flexible and can be used in a variety of applications.
Home compostable plastic is a type of bioplastic. Made from ingredients and materials that fully decompose into the soil, they can break down into carbon dioxide, water and biomass in a home composting system without leaving visible (toxic) residues.
These home compostable plastics are often made from renewable resources such as plant starch, cellulose, lignin and other plant-based materials. The product is designed to break down quickly through microbial activity in a home composting system, usually within a few months.
Benefits of Biodegradable Plastics
Disadvantages of Biodegradable Plastics
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Overall, bioplastic films made from polyethylene glycol and seaweed are a promising solution to the global plastic waste problem.
It is an environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative to traditional plastics as it is more environmentally friendly and reduces the amount of plastic waste in the environment. At the same time, due to its many advantages over traditional plastics, such as being more flexible and durable, it is also being used more and more widely.
In countries with large populations, where annual consumption of plastic packaging is exploding, biodegradable films can help reduce the harmful environmental impact of carelessly discarded plastic packaging.
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Din MI, Ghaffar T, Najeeb J, Hussain Z, Khalid R, Zahid H. Potential perspectives of biodegradable plastics for food packaging application-review of properties and recent developments. Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2020 Apr;37(4):665-680. doi: 10.1080/19440049.2020.1718219. Epub 2020 Feb 12. PMID: 32049609.