Types of Biodegradable Plastics
Biodegradable plastics are here and are answers to our plastic wastage solution. Made from natural materials such as corn oil, orange peels, starch, plants, sugar and so on. These biodegradable plastics decompose faster than the usual plastic as it contains substances that attract microbes to decompose them.
Plastics are made from chemicals, which takes years to decompose. Even when melted, it releases harmful gases like carbon, and methane into the environment, polluting it. Biodegradable plastics do not contain these pollutants and are broken down by environment friendly bacteria.
Essentially, there are two main types of biodegradable plastic; Oxo-biodegradable plastic and hydro- biodegradable plastic.
Oxo-biodegradable plastics are currently made from naphtha, which is a by-product of oil refining. The time it takes for Oxo-biodegradable products to degrade can be ‘programmed’ at the time of manufacturing process. It takes a few months to years to degrade, but does not release harmful gases such as methane or nitrous oxide.
Some other biodegradable form of plastics currently under research are plastics made from sugar, banana peel, avocado, shrimps, waste frying oil. Biodegradable plastics are into food packaging, shopping bags and many other products. Bioplastics have a lot of potential to be composted thereby decreasing the landfill burden and a bigger role in environment sustainability.
Factors Driving India’s Bioplastics Production
Bioplastics are plastics produced from renewable biomass sources such as vegetable fats and oils, corn starch, straw, woodchips, sawdust, recycled food waste, etc. The largest application of bioplastics in India is for packaging which accounts for 60% of the overall market share. They are used in the manufacturing of bottles, loose-fill, cups, pots, blows, flexible films, and other products. Bioplastics also finds its application in textile, automotive, electronic, construction, agriculture and constructions. It is a scalable and feasible solution to a wide range of petroleum based plastics. But what are the key factors driving this demand today? Let’s look into it in this article.
Awareness and increased demand for bio-based renewable material, along with availability of raw material, advanced functionality and technical properties, and various recycling options have resulted in a gradual growth in the bioplastic market of India.
Increased eco-awareness among consumers and sustainable solution have been the major driver for the bioplastic market in India.
Other drivers for the increased bioplastic production includes volatile fossil fuel prices, the need for manufacturers to decrease their carbon footprint and the adoption of green procurement policies by the government.
India generates 26000 tonnes of plastic waste daily, 94% of which is thermoplastic or recyclable plastic. The plastic processing industry in 2018 estimates that polymer consumption from 2017 to 2022 is likely to grow at 10%. The plastic waste management rules were made as an attempt by the central government to hold everyone responsible for setting up a proper channel for plastic disposal and has forced the vendor to consume more green packaging labels. This has further driven the bioplastic market in India.
Jammu and Kashmir is the first Indian state to build a bio-plastic manufacturing facility. The unit has an annual installed capacity of about 960 metric tons to manufacture 100% bio-degradable and compostable products. The other major players operating in India’s bioplastic market are Envigreen, Ecolife, Plastobags, Earthsoul India and Truegreen. India today has initiated the need to build up institutions and systems to counter the challenge of staggering plastic waste in the country in a holistic way for a more sustainable future.