Over the past few decades, our society has become addicted to plastic. Plastic is everywhere. No matter where you are, you are probably surrounded by plastic products. Lightweight and strong, plastic has revolutionized our world. From medical to automotive to aviation to household items, plastic has allowed for many advances. However, plastic has also taken a serious toll on our environment. Some organizations encourage people to refuse plastic altogether, particularly disposable plastics, but is this practical? Can our society flip a switch and simply stop using plastic? Probably not. We need to tackle our plastic pollution problems, but completely ridding our lives of plastic is not realistic.
Bioplastics are sustainable alternatives to conventional plastics. A bioplastic is defined as a plastic that is fully or partially biobased and/or biodegradable or compostable. Biobased plastic replaces fossil resources with renewable resources such as plants. In addition to reducing our dependence on non-renewable resources such as petroleum, biobased plastic often provides a lower carbon footprint as well. Compostable plastic offers a more desirable end-of-life option for single-use disposables such as cups, straws and take-out containers. When disposed of in an industrial composting site, certified compostable bioplastics will biodegrade within 180 days, returning to nature without leaving any chemical residue behind.
It’s important to note that while bioplastics have many benefits, they are not a panacea, and will not solve the problem of littering, for example. Bioplastics are viable alternatives that are revolutionizing the plastics industry and the way people think about plastic. The adoption of bioplastics as alternatives to traditional plastics is growing worldwide. We may not be able to completely eliminate our plastic addiction, but we can change the way we think about and consume plastic.