The Wonders of Plastic Series: Part Six – The Future of Plastic Innovation

Posted on March 12th, 2019 by Dirk Arends

What are bioplastics? Bioplastics are made from renewable resources such as wood pulp, corn, sugarcane, or feathers. Bioplastics can also be biodegradable, which means they break down naturally. Bioplastics are eco-friendly, can help battle climate change, and can be designed to decompose. Decomposing plastic can be useful for products such as single-use cups, bottles, or packaging. However, you probably do not want the plastic in your car or computer to decompose too quickly. Evidence has shown that certain kinds of bacteria are evolving to eat plastic. Although more research has been done regarding bioplastics in recent years, as the price of oil remains relatively low, there is little incentive to move away from oil-based plastic.

Some experiments have been done by converting keratin-heavy waste materials to plastic such as chicken feathers. Several billion pounds of waste feathers need to be disposed of annually, and converting them to another material can add a circular aspect to this renewable source.  We previously mentioned in an early post on polymers found in nature, that plants contain cellulose. You might have heard this in the news regarding edible water pods. These clear ‘pods’ are edible, hold a serving of water, and are made from seaweed. Testing is also underway on edible plastic food wrappers and packaging made from milk or fruit by-products.

Although edible or biodegradable plastic cannot be used for every purpose, these innovations can help solve pollution problems when it comes to single-use and disposable plastics. According to the Plastics Industry Association, the bioplastics industry anticipates 20-30% annual growth.

IVP Plastics was founded over 60 years ago and has experience in processing more than 140 custom plastic materials, specializing in reinforced and high-temperature materials.

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