Switching from Plastics to Bioplastics

Plastic Plastic Everywhere !!

We have been through the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Copper age, the Iron Age and the Steel age, named because of the dominance of these materials at that particular point of time. Considering the fact that the total volume of plastic production has surpassed that of steel, the last part of 20th century has been the ‘The Plastic Age’. And since then we are living in the age of plastics in which the usage of plastics has increased from around 5 million tons in 1950’s to 150 million tons at the present time. The consumption of plastics in Europe and U.S. is 60 kg and 80 kg respectively per person per year, while in India it is only 4 kg per person with a total annual consumption of 4 million tons only. Thus, India is amongst the lowest in generation of plastic waste. But that does not imply that plastic is not harmful for environment, so we have to work in reducing our plastic consumptions.

The advantages associated with plastics are that it can be moulded into complex shapes, have high chemical resistance and more or less elastic, thus having ability to be drawn into fiber or thin films. These properties have made them popular amongst the manufacturers of many durable and disposable goods as packaging material. However these materials have excessive molecular size of up to 1, 50,000 Da, due to which they are extremely resistance to biodegradation and persistence in the soil environment for long time and thus plastics have proved to be an aesthetic nuisance rather than a hazard. Most of the plastic will not decompose and their improper disposal is a source of environmental pollution, potentially harming our ecosystem.