Biodegradable Plastic Bags and Bottles

Posted on April 18, 2008  Comments (0)

researchers look to make environmentally friendly plastics

Every year, more than 30 billion water bottles are added to America’s landfills, creating a mountainous environmental problem. But if research at Missouri University of Science and Technology is successful, the plastic bottles of the future could literally disappear within four months of being discarded.

The Missouri S&T research team is constructing new breeds of biodegradable and bioavailable plastics in an effort to reduce the tons of plastic waste that ends up in the nation’s landfills each year. Bioavailable plastics contain substances that can be absorbed by living systems during their normal physiological functions.

By combining and modifying a variety of bio-based, oil-based and natural polymers, the team seeks to create optimal blends that can be used to make agricultural films, bottles, biomedical and drug delivery devices, and more.

As polylactic acid degrades, the material reacts with water to decompose into small molecules, which are then mineralized into water and carbon dioxide.

“In general, the main end products of polymer degradation are water and carbon dioxide,” Shahlari explains. “Polylatic acid has the potential of replacing the regular water bottles, and we anticipate that our research could be incorporated into that field too.

It sure seems like they are saying these would really biodegrade. Plastic bags can photodegrade where they break down into small bits of plastic that might be hard to see but are still toxic that can be eaten by animals, and us. As one would figure – that is not a good thing. The ocean garbage floats are not huge amounts of plastic bags and bottles but instead huge amounts of small and tiny plastic particles. I know using corn based bags has been looked at previously and used.

Related: New Plastic Bags Biodegrade in Four MonthsManufacturers Push Biodegradable Plastic Bags (NPR podcast)Crisis at Sea

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