With green technology being one of the fastest-growing industries in the world today, it is only logical that a great deal of commitment is devoted to its greatest adversaries: plastic use.
One type of commitment towards green technology dedicated to solving the plastic waste issue is replacing it during the manufacturing stage using biodegradable resins.
At its base level, the fundamental difference between plastic and biodegradable resin is the fact that biodegradable resin is made from natural, non-toxic and water-based substances. This makes biodegradable resin one of the best replacements for plastic.
So let’s find out more about this planet-saving material that is out to put plastic out of business.
What are biodegradable resins made from?
To fully grasp the effectiveness of biodegradable resin as the solution to plastic waste, we will have to look at the very source of what they are made from.
Compared to your typical plastic which is typically processed from fossil fuel, biodegradable resins are usually made through the use of starch-based thermoplastics, organic oils or sugar.
Plastics are made using fossil fuels that are harmful not just because they are difficult to decompose, but because of the manufacturing process as well. The chemical process required to create the compounds for plastic manufacturing creates an abundance of chemical waste in both liquid and gas form which are harmful to the atmosphere and our oceans.
At the same time, when single-use plastic is disposed of improperly, they become harmful pollutants as well. For example, plastic waste that is burned releases harmful gases such as dioxins, furans and mercury. All of these are harmful to humans, animal life and the atmosphere.
When plastic is disposed into the oceans, rivers or even landfills, they are consumed by wildlife such as birds, fishes and turtles causing direct harm to their bodies.
Biodegradable resins, however, due to the source ingredients used to manufacture them is renewable, organic and water-based are easily broken down by bacteria when disposed of.
They are also very much easier to recycle as the commercial and industrial process of recycling biodegradable resins are much faster, cheaper and easier. Additionally, you can even use some form of biodegradable resins as compost for your garden. These are known as compostable resins and can sometimes be found in all sorts of food packaging today.
Is the production of biodegradable resins environmental friendly?
The processes involved in making biodegradable resins vary according to the raw ingredients involved.
Production processes can be complex in order to ensure that the end product has the environmental benefits that it claims to have. Production of bio resins usually involves no usage of harmful chemicals or catalysts in order to ensure that the environmental claim is not just in the end product but in the processes as well.
Many or most of these processes do not even generate any forms of smell or odor. Smells and odors are telltale signs of harmful chemicals. These smells are not present in biodegradable resins processes and production.
The production of biodegradable resins has also been suggested to have a positive effect on our carbon footprint. There have been claims and studies that point in the direction of bio-resin production helping to neutralize CO2 emissions.
This means that bio-resins are not just beneficial as a product, but also incredibly environmental in its manufacturing process. It also helps to reduce the damage incurred by our CO2 emissions.
Varieties of biodegradable resins
There is no shortage when it comes to the various types of biodegradable resins. Different types of bio resins are classified based on the raw materials involved in their manufacturing and each has its advantages in product applications.
The following are some of the many bio-resins available for commercial and industrial use:
This is extremely affordable and readily accessible to most around the world. This form of bio-resin is most commonly found in commercial applications as it is incredibly easy to manipulate and shape during the products-manufacturing process.
This simply means that it can be easily molded through the already common injection-molding process for all kinds of end-user products such as disposable utensils, food packaging and containers.
Due to its raw materials being plant-based, this bio-resin is practically carbon neutral and is capable of decomposing on its own.
Derived from the reaction of bacteria on sugar or lipids, this bio resin’s key feature is its versatility in application. Due to its ability to take on various properties when changes are made to it at the molecular level, it is very easy to manipulate.
It is this versatility that allows it to be manufactured into products from food ware to surgical and medical products.
The primary reason behind this is also due to its stability when exposed to UV rays, moisture and odor resistance, making it incredibly safe and stable for various applications.
Hemp is the latest member in the bio-resin family and one that is taking the industry by storm. Compared to other bio-resins, hemp and hemp fibre is incredibly strong and resilient.
The awesome quality in hemp is the one that has allowed the bio-resin category to overcome some of its problems in the past. This has been especially applicable to products that require size and strength.
Since the introduction of hemp and hemp fibre, manufacturers have begun applying it in products such as automotive panels and domestic insulation panels.
Did we also mention that hemp is naturally fire-retardant and has great insulation properties?
What is a biodegradable resin used for?
The use of biodegradable resin can both be broad and specific. It depends on the needs and application of the end-user product.
To make things simple, it can be assumed that anything requiring the use of plastic or polymers can easily be replaced with one or a few types of biodegradable resin products.
Examining some of the most common sources of plastic wastes will easily help us identify these classifications of end products.
First and likely one great contributor of plastic waste would be food packaging.
From plastic food containers that are reusable to one-use plastic products such as plastic bags, food wrappers and disposable water bottles, all of these can easily find its biodegradable resin equivalent to replace them.
Second in the line of products that bio-resins could replace is your everyday consumer product packaging.
Product containers being one of the largest contributors in plastic waste, the biodegradable resin can potentially reduce bulk of what is thrown into landfills and our water sources such as packaging and containers found in cosmetics, kitchen & tableware and even loose-fill packaging.
Right at the top of the quality chain would be the use of biodegradable resin for medical purposes.
Due to the nature of raw materials used to create biodegradable resins, end products made of bio-resins are odor-free, water-based, chemically stable and free of any harmful chemicals. This makes bio-resins incredibly useful in the medical field both at the consumer and professional application.
Even surgical products such as screws, scaffolding, nurtures and drug delivery devices can be made from bio-resins simply because these products will have no harm towards the human body when applied during surgery.
What are the problems with biodegradable resins?
With all that’s been said about bio-resins, it could sound as if it is the miracle solution to plastic waste and all its problems. If so, why is it that bio-resin isn’t more widely used globally?
The issue is really simple, due to bio-resin being a technology that is still in its early years of application and is extremely young as an industry, it is not very cost-effective.
Manufacturers of biodegradable resin products are few. There are even fewer suppliers of the materials and types of machinery required for its production.
As the demand for accountability towards the environment becomes higher, more and more manufacturers will soon switch over to the use of biodegradable resins. This increase in demand will trigger more investments into the bio-resin industry. In return, this will result in an increase in availability and accessibility of these nature-friendly products. It is in these projections and predictions that biodegradable resin would hope to eventually be the green solution to plastic waste and pollution.