Bioplastic: What Is It & Should We Care

20 Mar 2019

Category: Eco

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Are Bioplastics the Solution to the Plastic Waste Crisis

The plastic crisis is seemingly showing no sign of slowing; regardless of initiatives to help. In western countries, the awareness surrounding the plastic problem is certainly improving, however, in the east, in countries such as China, plastic waste is still incredibly problematic.

The People’s Responsibility

It’s well known that China is the number one producer of plastic waste in the world. One could deduce that their conscience doesn’t extend to their lasting footprint on the world. Here in the UK, pledges and initiatives to reduce plastic waste have been made, and are now in place. In China, however, the population density is far higher than the UK/US. Even though China has roughly the same surface area as the US, the sheer number of people makes it much harder to regulate waste.

Like the UK, in 2008 (far earlier than here), China introduced a ban on free plastic bags to try and curb single-use plastic waste. Since the ban was rolled out,  the use of plastic bags at supermarkets and shopping centres fell by more than 60 per cent.

It’s clear that single-use plastic is still a huge problem. The biggest countries in the world are all making slow steps towards progress, but the responsibility lies with the individual just as much as it does with governing bodies.

Can Science Help?

If regulations aren’t preventing plastic waste from ruining the planet, maybe science can. Enter; bioplastic.

So, what are bioplastics? Bioplastics are plastics made from organic, bio-degradable materials. Bioplastic can stand for one of two following things, as according to Greenpeace.

  • Plastics that biodegrade or break down into tiny pieces (therefore creating smaller bits of plastic that are still…well, plastic.)
  • Plastics made up of renewable, organic biomass sources. Such as vegetable fats and oils, and corn starch.

It may seem like Bioplastic is the sole answer to all our plastic problems, but unfortunately, it’s not the perfect solution. Bioplastics have been known to enter the ocean and endanger sea life, through entangling them.

To make bioplastics, you also need a considerable amount of land and resources, which means they can be as bad for the environment as normal plastics.

If the answer hasn’t yet been found through science, then ultimately, the plastic waste issue falls on individual consumers. Make a conscious effort to use less plastic. Use alternatives such as glass and paper where you can, and recycle wherever possible.