Published: 08/19/2006 - Updated: 07/15/2016
“Matter is neither created nor destroyed, only transformed".
Of the approximately eight billion people on the planet, 1700 are the consumer society, only with this amount, landfills are on the verge of collapse. The plastic material present in most consumer products also generates a large number of waste, according to AIMPLAS, Spain generates about 5 million tons per year of which only 700,000 tons are being recycled, which gives an alarm as they are difficult to eliminate, and although the plastic properties such as stiffness, impact resistance, barrier effects, ease of forms, printing, production in large quantities at low cost and others are representative, the corporate environmental commitment should lead us to other options that give us what we want but by reducing landfill problems in the production and emission of gases, generally so high that the impact is generated.
So, a good alternative is to think of other materials that would achieve what we know so far but with more possibilities. The advantage is that research has made considerable progress and now we can choose among other options, such is the case of bio plastics that was born out of concern for resolving the environmental impacts and reduce dependence on oil as a nonrenewable resource short medium term.
It is defined as a polymer material made from renewable resources (for example, sugars, starch, cellulose, potatoes, cereals, molasses, etc.), this is not fossil, which is rapidly degraded, can be composted and is synthesized with renewable energy, and also to synthetics made from petroleum that are biodegradable (they are a minority, but are used, for example, polycaprolactone). This classification includes mixtures of both types, such as starch and polycaprolactone, already sold in the first world.
When working with this material and developing new products, people should take into account that has the characteristics of a normal plastic, it can go through processes of molding, extrusion, blow molding, besides having the strength, stiffness and other qualities present in the plastics but natural. However, its use is focused on short-life products for its low resistance to the action of microorganisms in outdoor applications and long-life products. It should also be noted that these resources are easily found in nature and renewing. This means that the benefits are greater because not only reduce environmental impacts but ends with the entire life cycle of both raw materials and products, thereby building up organic waste.
There are already many companies betting on this option, which already have pilot plants for bioplastic materials and strengthening their area of R & D + i, by applying to its perishable products this material showing that little by little this is creating awareness generating eco-business synergies between these aspects and increasing its production capacity. Such is the case of Hewlett Packard, Fujitsu, Nestle, Toyota, Down Chemicals - NatureWorks or Belu with different applications such as computer housings, televisions, mobile phones, walkman, and products that generate a significant number of waste such as packaging, within of which include water bottles, films for fresh produce and confectionery, thermo-formed rigid trays, trays of polymer based on corn starch, water soluble modified cellulose, adhesive tape can also be used as coating pans of cellulose or starch films with mixtures of Ecoflex ® PLA (lactic acid in corn, and grain) and starch for food packaging with modified atmosphere (MAP).
Some large retail chains in France, Britain, Italy and the Netherlands have started to use primarily for the packaging of fresh products like fruits, vegetables and frozen products, and personal hygiene products and disposable cups or dishes.
Also they begin to explore other sectors like agriculture, the electronic components being investigated pursuant to medicine for disposable products, as biomedicine for tissue development, regenerative medicine, and also necessary elements in bones as surgeries with biodegradable screws.
We note that the environment affects the modes of production, use, compatibility between the product and its packaging, means that there is a renewal of major technological infrastructure, which takes time to assimilate on the part of all stakeholders including business and the consumer as such, who leans far lower prices. Although prices are higher compared to bioplastics with synthetic plastics, the balance, due to rising oil prices and declining raw material prices such as sugar and starches, in turn, by increased demand; to grow gradually to be noted that these materials produce far fewer problems than conventional plastics and awareness of buying power to promote fairer markets to develop less harmful products and to promote energy conservation, resource and responsible consumption.
Like any new technology, it is more expensive at first but eventually increased demand and prices stabilize, now the market of bioplastics is a little bit small, covering approximately 10% of the total market for plastics applications, which represents approximately 40 million tonnes, one of the goals by the end of this decade is to increase by 30% its production which involves a commitment on the part of institutions, enterprise and feedback from users end, but the benefits are many and the future is promising as reflected in the problem of environmental impacts and also in increased profits.
The development of the sector is also driven by the strong support of European Community law which in EN 13432 January 2005 includes a special item packaging “certified compostable." That legislation provides that during the launch phase the products are exempt from the fee collection and recycling, the first country to implement it has been Germany with the aim of promoting the use of bioplastics.
We are confronted, new alternatives, we extend the range of possibilities on which we can work to achieve interesting, innovative and futuristic results, such as packages that meet their primary function but then can be eaten.