#GS-03 Environment and Ecology, Science and Technology
- A product is biodegradable when it can be decomposed by biological organisms such as bacteria, fungi, algae, etc in a favourable environment.
- Plastics developed form biomass (plants) such as corn, sugarcane, vegetable oil or wood pulp can be converted into natural substances like water, carbon dioxide, and compost by the action of micro-organisms.
- They are preferred since they come from renewable sources and can be used to reduce the problem of contaminating plastic waste that is suffocating the planet and contaminating the environment.
Types of Biodegradable Plastics
- These are made completely from natural substances such as corn starch and save energy and emit less carbon.
- Cellulose-based plastics can be made from wood pulp and are used for making film based materials such as wrappers.
- Thermoplastics are starch-based products and can be used for production of drug capsules as starch has ability to absorb moisture.
- These are made from traditional petrochemicals but are designed to decompose faster by additives that speed up their rate of decay in the presence of oxygen and light.
- Common examples of such plastics include polybutyrate adipate terephthalate (PBAT), polybutylene succinate (PBS), polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH/PVA), and polycaprolactone (PCL).
History of Biodegradable Plastics
- One of the very first man-made bioplastics, called Parkesine, was developed from cellulose in 1862 by Alexander Parkes a scientist in UK.
- A French researcher, Maurice Lemoigne in 1926 discovered another early known bioplastic manufactured from bacteria.
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