New Delhi: Researchers have developed a way to make a promising, sustainable alternative to petroleum-based plastics more biodegradable and reduce plastic waste.
The bio-based polymer blend is compostable in both home and industrial settings. “In the US and globally, there is a large issue with waste and especially plastic waste,” says Rafael Auras, professor of packaging sustainability at Michigan State University.
US recycles 10% of plastic waste
Less than 10% of plastic waste is recycled in the US. That means the bulk of plastic waste ends up as trash or litter, creating economic, environmental, and even health concerns.
“By developing biodegradable and compostable products, we can divert some of that waste,” Auras says. “We can reduce the amount that goes into a landfill.”
Plastics need not be cleaned of food contaminants
Another bonus is that plastics destined for the compost bin wouldn’t need to be cleaned of food contaminants, which is a major obstacle for efficient plastic recycling. Recycling facilities routinely must choose between spending time, water, and energy to clean dirty plastic waste or simply throwing it out.
“Imagine you had a coffee cup or a microwave tray with tomato sauce,” Auras says. “You wouldn’t need to rinse or wash those, you could just compost.”