The Green Path of Sustainable Development

Plastic is an indispensable material in modern life. Its lightweight, durability, and versatility make it essential for industry and overall economic growth. From household use to life-saving medical equipment and cutting-edge technology, plastic is an integral part of human civilization. Without plastic, transportation, communication, and manufacturing would be significantly hindered.

In the field of medicine, PLA (Polylactic Acid) plastic has been in use for over a decade. Particularly due to its biocompatibility and biodegradability, it is used in implants and sutures.

The use of PLA plastic has recently expanded to 3D printing, where its ease of use and environmentally friendly properties make it suitable for preparing the necessary filaments for printing. Additionally, PLA plastic is increasingly being used in containers and packaging, especially in the food industry where trays, bags, and bottles made from PLA plastic are gaining popularity due to their biodegradable nature and non-toxic properties. Another type of bioplastic is Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) plastic. Extracted from renewable sources like plants and bacteria, this plastic has already gained recognition for its environmental friendliness. Due to its biodegradability and functionality, it is used in packaging, agriculture, and other fields.

Bioplastics effectively sequester carbon by storing it during production processes, thereby reducing emissions. As a result, bioplastics provide a sustainable alternative to traditional plastics and help industries achieve carbon neutrality.

Based on selected raw materials and production methods, the types and structures of bioplastics vary. A common type is PLA plastic synthesized from the sugars of plants like corn or cassava. Such plastics are used in textiles for their durability and environmental benefits, contributing to ‘net-zero’ emissions in home decoration. Key arguments in favor of using bioplastics as a catalyst for green and sustainable development include:

  1. Use of Renewable Resources: Bioplastics are sourced from renewable resources such as plants, algae, and bacteria. Unlike traditional plastics derived primarily from fossil fuels, bioplastics utilize naturally available resources, reducing dependence on limited fossil fuel reserves and promoting greenhouse gas emission reductions.
  2. Carbon Neutrality: The production of bioplastics can be carbon neutral or even carbon negative. During the growth of the raw materials used for their production, plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.
  3. Circular Economy Principles: Bioplastics play a significant role in advancing circular economy principles. Unlike traditional plastics, which often end their lifecycle in landfills or oceans, bioplastics can be designed to be biodegradable or compostable. By recycling bioplastic waste through various processes, valuable resources can be recovered. Closing the loop and reintegrating bioplastic waste into the production cycle helps reduce waste generation and minimize environmental impact.
  4. Consumer Awareness and Demand: Awareness about the environmental impact of plastic pollution and the importance of adopting sustainable alternatives has increased among consumers. As consumers become more conscious of their purchasing decisions, the demand for products made using bioplastics and environmentally friendly materials has grown. This shift in consumer preferences encourages innovation and investment in bioplastic technology, accelerating its adoption and market penetration.

Despite the vast potential of bioplastics, there are challenges to widespread adoption, including higher production costs and infrastructure limitations. However, these challenges can be addressed through innovation, collaboration, and collective efforts. More research is needed in biopolymer production, processing techniques, and environmental impact.

Governments and regulatory bodies can play a crucial role in accelerating the transition to bioplastics through supportive policies and regulations. Such measures can bring about positive changes in the environment, as everyone acknowledges.

bioplastic

Despite their numerous benefits, plastic waste and pollution have become significant concerns in recent times. Their extensive use and slow degradation pose serious threats to ecosystems and human societies. Improper disposal of plastic waste has led to widespread pollution of land, waterways, and oceans, endangering wildlife and marine life. The entry of microplastics into the food chain raises concerns about potential public health risks.

Addressing these challenges and combating climate change and environmental degradation requires sustainable alternatives to conventional plastics. Recently discussed bioplastics or green plastics are paving the way in this area. It is hoped that bioplastics will act as a catalyst in achieving ‘net-zero’ goals and will pave the green path for sustainable development.

In the medical field, PHA is used. Its extensive applications include bags, pouches, sutures, and packaging.

Bioplastics are derived from renewable biological sources such as corn starch, cassava, or even vegetable oil. Their production follows several steps. Initially, biomass from agricultural sources is collected. This biomass is then processed to extract the necessary raw materials, such as starch or sugar, for bioplastic production. These raw materials undergo chemical processing to produce polymers or monomers. Finally, these small units are combined to form polymers through a process called polymerization.