Bioplastic – value addition in environment
Bioplastics are beneficial to reduce the stress on limited petroleum resources, to lower CO2 emission, for the prevention of microplastic pollution, to stop land and ocean pollution and for creating a circular economy.
It takes thousands of years to complete the petrochemical cycle on the Earth, so we have to call it as limited stock. As we are unable to invent the time machine and complete this cycle in our lifetime.
Moreover, it is a carbon-rich resource and we dig it out to the open atmosphere, which increases the carbon emission in the environment, adversely affecting the natural closed-loop carbon cycle. It results in the greenhouse effect; that causes catastrophes on the Earth, prompting a threat against all life. Bioplastics are the key element for closing the natural carbon cycle in a shorter time and resulting in a circular economy.
Bioplastic does not end up as microplastics, instead, it degrades into nutrient-rich compost. Microplastics are generated from petrochemical-based plastic waste available as landfill and in the ocean. It reaches to groundwater from plastic landfill and reaches inside the human body through sea life. Research shows that this microplastic gets stuck in the fish, which is food for humans. Most of the freshwater streams contain microplastics now.
Some part of plastic waste is being incinerated and energy is produced. Incineration of petrochemical plastic emits toxic fumes and large amounts of CO2, which ultimately multiplies the rate of the greenhouse effect and other hazardous effects of toxic gases. Whereas, incinerating bioplastics does not emit toxic fumes; in addition, it emits CO2 which was consumed by the plant of raw material. Hence, it creates a circular economy by closing the carbon cycle.
Any bio-based and biodegradable plastic does not end up as a landfill for a long time comparatively. Ultimately, it has to degrade as per its properties. It may take more or less time depending on the weather like surrounding temperature, moisture, water, etc. It can be understood by taking an example of degradation of wood in nature. When we are using wood inside our house in a controlled environment, its degradation rate is very slow. When it will be thrown out in an open environment in the presence of sunlight, rain, moisture; it degrades rapidly.
The degradation rate of wood and bio-based & biodegradable plastic is comparable.
As per the European bioplastics, A key tool to measure the environmental impact of products or services is the so-called Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). It is possible to account for all the environmental impact of any product from raw material extraction to the end of life. It brings the business standards to standardize the product and fulfilling minimum criteria for public sale. As various types of bioplastics are available with various effects on the environment, it is necessary to standardize its sustainability.
Bioplastic helps to close the loop of the natural cycle in a short time and creates a circular economy.
Everything on the Earth works on the close loop cycle, but the time of this cycle varies depending on the products from a few days to millions of years. The cycle needs to be completed at the same rate of the usage of the product; if not, it starts piling up affecting adversely or positively depending on the products. The bioplastics life cycle takes 1 to 10 years of time depending on the environmental conditions.
In conclusion, we are using the petrochemical products very rapidly that has the cycle time of a few thousands of years at least. Hence, all of its products are getting piled up and are unfortunately harmful to all species on the Earth. Bioplastic can play a crucial role here, as it works on a natural close loop cycle of an adequate timeline; that depicts substantial value addition in the environment.