plastic bottle on corn

Bioplastic Bags: Benefits and Uses

Plastics are the world’s most versatile and flexible materials. You can make almost anything off plastics; whether it is grocery bags or toys. However, plastics are made of synthetic materials (mostly petroleum), and disposable plastics can be harmful to the environment.

Today, a large majority of plastics in use are disposable plastics. Meanwhile, on average, disposable plastic bags can take up to 500 years (5 generations) to break down in the environment.

To stop this environmental pollution caused by disposable plastics, plastic bag suppliers such as Teong Chuan Plastic (M) Sdn Bhd has introduced an effective way of producing plastics with an increased focus on protecting the environment.

These environmentally-friendly plastics are categorized into:

  • Bioplastics: a type of plastic that is made from natural materials such as corn starch, potatoes, sugarcane, sugar beet, cassava, and wheat.
  • Eco/recycled plastics: a type of plastic that is made from recycled plastic materials rather than raw petrochemicals.
  • Biodegradable plastics: a type of plastic that is made from conventional petrochemicals but this time, are designed to break down more quickly.

This article focuses on bioplastics, its benefits and uses.

Bioplastics are made from friendly chemicals that can break down easily and speedily when disposed of. Sourced from natural materials such as corn starch, bioplastics are now widely used to make plastic bags, food containers, and more.

The process involved in making bioplastic bags saves ⅔ of the energy required compared with traditional plastics. That is a whole lot of pollution spared.

While plastics are carbon-based polymers i.e. long-chain molecules that repeat their structures over and over again and have a higher carbon footprint, biodegradable plastic bags are easily broken down, reducing CO2 emissions.


Benefits Of Bioplastic Bags

Here are four benefits of bioplastic bags to you and the environment.

1. Waste Reduction

On average, a plastic bag is only used for 12 minutes before disposal. This contributes to 13% of the waste stream, representing 32 million tons of waste entering various water bodies and landfills.

On the other hand, biodegradable plastic bags can break down within a few months, depending on the conditions of disposal and materials involved. Since they can be recycled, bioplastics will foster trash reduction and cut down environmental pollution compared to regular disposable plastics that can take up to 500 years to decompose.


2. Induced Environment for Plastic-Eating Bacteria

Plastics, even biodegradable plastics cannot decompose on their own without the aid of bacteria. Several types of bacteria are responsible for consuming plastics and hastening their decomposition.

Moreover, scientists have achieved a breakthrough that can increase the decomposition period.

The process involves inducing an environment that will trigger the activities of microscopic organisms. Further research will be carried out to ensure the bacteria and the byproducts produced are nontoxic.


3. Reduce the Need for Petroleum

Since petroleum is the major ingredient for producing plastics, the rise of biodegradable plastic bags will help conserve petroleum supplies.

Bioplastics hail from cassava, corn, switchgrass, sugarcane, and other natural sources and this implies little dependence on petroleum.

Although some plastic bag manufacturers mix natural sources with petroleum to add more strength to bioplastic bags, the percentage of petroleum used is always minimal.

As technology advances, biodegradable plastic bags will have higher strength and durability without the addition of petroleum.


4. Energy Saving

Generally, plastic bag manufacturers use a very high temperature to produce traditional plastics during manufacturing.

This is because heat is the only means to turn oil molecules into polymers. In the United States, 2.7% of their petroleum consumption serves this purpose.

With biodegradable plastics, energy can be saved significantly. Corn-based polymer, for example, uses 65% less energy than what it’ll take to convert petroleum to polymers.

In addition, bioplastics generate up to 68% less CO2 emissions during manufacturing, which can significantly save the environment over time.


Uses Of Bioplastics

  1. Biodegradable plastic bags can help reduce the number of bags that end up in landfills.
  2. Bioplastic contributes to the generation of renewable energy, especially in countries where waste is incinerated.
  3. Biodegradable shopping bags are commercially available in many different sizes, styles, and thicknesses.
  4. For countries that collect organic waste, bioplastic bags can be used for dual purposes; shopping and collecting organic waste.
  5. Bioplastic shopping bags can be recycled into new plastic products.


Wrapping Up

As the awareness to eliminate disposable plastics continues to increase, more plastic bag manufacturers are making an extra effort to make plastics more environmentally friendly.

By switching from conventional plastics to biodegradable plastics, many countries can reduce greenhouse emissions.

For instance, according to studies, countries like the United States can cut greenhouse emissions by 75% within the next few years if they switch from conventional plastics to biodegradable plastics.