08-11-21 How far are we to sustain our future?
The use of plastic is vital in our everyday lives. Yet most plastic is based on non-renewable fossil-based resources, which is not a sustainable situation. How can plastics become sustainable?
One path that is being pursued every more intensively is that of recycling. By recycling resources, we contribute to the cycle of renewing plastic while maintaining biocapacity and reducing pollution and waste. Waste recycling on a larger scale aids in preventing the depletion of natural resources.
As consumers (along all the way , we have a responsibility to effectively recycle the plastic waste we produce so that plastic can be returned to the industrial and economic cycle. The state of recycling today is dependent on infrastructure - and the payoff of recycling is going to give long-term benefits to the economy and environment as well as dictate the future sustainability of plastics.
Inexpensive, lightweight and durable, plastic is a highly utilized synthetic material in modern society. Currently, seven different types of plastics are commonly distinguished: PET, HDPE, PVC-U, LDPE, PP and ‘other’, referring to plastic that is mixed or layered. Each type is composed of different organic compounds and features its own spectrum of physical and chemical properties. The recyclability and preprocessing of a plastic is dependent on its chemical composition.
The big question today is therefore: how to make plastic more sustainable without sacrificing the cost or quality? (tough question, with compromising answers)
As an example action:
Biodegradation is hailed as another route to avoiding the buildup of waste in landfills. Using biodegradable plastics can reduce our carbon footprint, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste pollution. One of the materials in exam is starch, and the use of starch-based bioplastics as a sustainable packaging material. Starch is an organic material made up of polysaccharides and is extracted from plant-based resources through a milling process and consists of two polymers: amylose, a linear polymer and amylopectin, a branched polymer. When plastics are combined with starch-based minerals, it provides the plastics with water-resistant properties. Starch films that are mixed with biodegradable components has been proven to be more efficient in reducing permeability;
The future of sustainable bioplastics using starch-based biodegradable plastic is still in the works as there are many issues that will make its use challenging. At the same time, researchers need to develop a way for the products that use sustainable plastic packaging to hold the same quality and shelf-life, while also being cost efficient and environmentally friendly.
At the end: Although modern technology is still a long way from constituting a comprehensive solution to sustainable plastics, there are many things that we can do as consumers to maintain the integrity of the current biodegradable plastics. If the average consumer continues engaging in waste recycling and purchasing “greener” products, then we can collectively reduce our carbon footprint. For example, replacing petroleum-based plastics with renewable, reclaimed, or recycled materials will substantially reduce your carbon footprint. Similarly, using more compostable materials like wood and natural fibers offers the incentive for consumers to return these products back to their original state through composting.
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