Bio-Based Polythene: The Future of Sustainable Plastic?
The evolution of bio-based polythene has proven to be a benefit to the industry, to the economy, to the environment and to society. Indeed, cultures around the world rely on plastics to meet many challenges, including the packaging and transport of goods and food stuffs. It is difficult to imagine a world without the convenience of plastics but meeting the strict environmental standards imposed by EU environmentalists has proven challenging to businesses and consumers that rely on plastic products for any number of solutions.
Bio-based polythene is a very happy alternative for responsible users who seek to lower their carbon footprint, reduce their energy consumption and protect the environment that we shall pass on to future generations. Bio-Based polythene end product will be the future because they are a win-win result for manufacturers and consumers.
Yes, bio-based polythene may cost about 7 percent more than fossil fuel alternatives but their shelf life is 20 percent longer. New bio-based polythene products are gaining in popularity. They offer the double edged advantages of being 100 percent recyclable and carbon positive, a long sought after combination that helps businesses improve their mandated green credentials and bring their carbon footprint in line with EU standards.
There are some green solutions that you know are the future. Bio-based polythene is one of those rare discoveries that appears to be the future of plastics. Consumers have warmed to bio-based Polythene and solidified its place in the market. In 2011`, 3.5 million tonnes of bio-based polymers were manufactured around the globe. That compared to 235 million tonnes of fossil fuel based polymers. But, the future looks bright! By 2020, industry experts project 12 million tonnes of bio-based polymers will be produced every year. This is encouraging news.
Bio-Based Rather Than Oxy-Degradable
Just when it seemed that oxy-degradable polythene compositions were the answer to the carbon challenges presented by the plastics industry, bio-based polythene was discovered. Consumers, environmentalists and manufacturers soon began to wonder about the practicality of plastics that completely degraded after two or three years.
Bio-based polythene products are a more satisfactory solution to the environmental impact of the industry. Food stocks and specifically sugar cane have proven to be the most environmentally beneficial polythene. With sugar cane-based products, manufacturers are producing products that rely on photosynthesis during the plant’s life to create a carbon positive product.
While sugar cane captures CO2 from the atmosphere, it releases oxygen into the atmosphere. Taking as much or more carbon from the environment and depositing an equal or greater share of oxygen to the environment makes sugar cane based polythene a carbon positive material. Add to this effect the fact that manufacturers are now using the waste to fuel their equipment and we scan see undeniable environmental benefits that did not exist just a few years ago.
Biotechnology: The Future of Manufacturing
For many years the plastics industry was the whipping boy of environmentalists who definitely made an impression upon plastics manufacturers and manufacturers in other sectors. The progress made by plastic manufacturers will copied by other sectors. Bio-based manufacturing will be implemented by other challenged manufacturing sectors. The process of replacing fossil fuels and their volatile pricing with carbon positive energy sources will make for a much more sustainable future.
Biotechnology will continue to develop new and exciting crops for plastic production. Scientists are already working to improve crop genomes in order to boost the desired effects. Genetic modifications of the plants used in bio-plastics have already increased the effectiveness of bio-plastics and can only offer us a glimpse of the future potential and direction of biotechnology.
The Bio-based Polythene Future
To fully understand why scientists are encouraged with bio-based polythene, it is necessary to understand that bio-based plastics contain renewable carbon. This is a driving force behind the commitment to bio-based production and a significant advantage over fossil fuel-based plastics. At the end of the life of the bio-plastic, the carbon is returned to the atmosphere but no new carbon is added to the environment.
To further increase the sustainability of bio-based plastics, some products can be degraded. Sugar cane based polythene is one of those products. This product can be disposed alongside food waste. Additionally, biodegradable agricultural bio-based plastic mulch can be ploughed into the field which further saves on the collection and storage capacity of plastics.
As for the future of bio-based polythene, the fact that production actually reduces the amount of consumed energy compared to fossil fuel based plastic production is a significant win for the process. Combining this lower energy consumption with the lower Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions produced by bio-based polythene, it is only natural to see this process as the future of plastics. Some bio-based products actually consume 50 percent less energy and emit 66 percent less GHG. This is progress. This is the future of plastics and bio-based polythene will lead the way.
Established in 2007 in Witney, Oxfordshire, Polythene UK quickly made its name as the UK’s leading independent supplier of polythene products. In early 2013, the company moved to new premises specifically designed to be carbon neutral and equipped with a high-tech renewable energy system.
Image by Kate Ter Haar via Flickr