Process to manufacture bioplastic material

Let's understand the process by taking an example of Polylactic acid (PLA), which is a bio-based and compostable polymer.

PLA Process.jpg

Processing bioplastic material

The bioplastic granules are converted into the end products as per requirements. 

Mostly, it works with existing processing machines to convert the granules into plastic products.

The available bioplastic products in the market are listed below as per the different segments of applications. (Data from European Bioplastics e. V.)

Service packaging

food packaging

Bioplastics in Service Packaging.png
Bioplastics in Food Packaging.png

cosmetics

agriculture & Horticulture

Bioplastics in Cosmetics.png
Bioplastics in Horticulture & Agricultur

Textiles & Fibers

Catering products

Bioplastics in Textiles & Fibers.png
Bioplastics in Catering products.png

Other application

Bioplastic Other Application.png

Electronics

Bioplastics in Electronics.png

Source of the application images: European Bioplastic e. V.

What happens when discarded after the use?

After the degradation, it converts completely into water, CO2 and compost.

After discarding, there could be five possibilities as follows.

1. It goes to Industrial composting

Here it will be degraded completely in 180 days. 

Compost Plant.jpg
Organic Compost

2. Goes with organic waste

Only some bioplastics can degrade as fast as organic waste for example PHA. Others take more time in a normal composting environment.

Plastic recycle plant.jpg

3. Goes to recycling

If it gets separated and recycled, it is comparatively easy and efficient to recycle it by polymerization followed by converting it into monomer.

4. Goes to Incinerator

It does not emit toxic fumes when incinerated. Moreover, it requires less energy to incinerate comparatively. 

Plastic Incinerator.jpg
Trash on Beach

5. Just thrown on the street or anywhere

If it is just thrown away, the degradation depends on the temperature & humidity. It takes a much longer time to degrade completely from 2 years to 8 years depending on weather conditions. If it is bio-based & compostable plastic, the degradation rate could be compared with wood.