There is no denying it: plastic is bad for the planet. In the United States alone, some 32 million tons of plastic waste are generated annually, yet only about nine percent of this waste is ever recycled. Because it takes between 500 years and 1000 years for plastic to degrade naturally, all excess plastics end up in places they shouldn’t be.
Green plastic substitutes in product development
There are now more than 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris floating in the earth’s oceans, but unfortunately, more than 100,000 marine creatures and one million sea birds die annually from plastic entanglement. Additionally, an estimated two-thirds of the world’s fish stocks are suffering from plastic ingestion. On land, things are just as bad. A significant portion of landfills are increasingly comprised of plastics.
The problem is that while plastic is bad for the earth, it is often good for product design. Plastic is lightweight and flexible, yet durable and sturdy. For companies that want to reduce their environmental footprint by eschewing the use of plastic in product design, there is an alternative option: bioplastics. Bioplastics are made from renewable biomass sources, typically agricultural byproducts, including vegetable fats and oils, corn starch, pea starch, or microbiota, as well as starches, cellulose, biopolymers. Biomass bioplastics are designed to biodegrade much faster, and therefore can mitigate environmental issues related to plastic use.
However, if you are wondering whether or not to use a green or environmentally-friendly plastic substitute, there are several factors to take into consideration. First, note that bioplastics have an environmental toll. The manufacturing of biofuels depends on fossil fuels, which isn’t ideal for the environment. Bioplastics are also more expensive and more difficult to access than traditional plastics. The biomass for production must be cultivated and composted, which is often a lengthy process. However, for companies looking to reduce their environmental impact and can afford to use bioplastics, they can certainly be an excellent way to attract the attention of eco-conscious consumers.
Pivot International is a product design, development, and manufacturing firm with strengths in software development, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and industrial design. If you are interested in engineering a new product or updating an existing product, contact us at 1-877-206-5001 or request your free consultation today.