Plastic is a generic term that covers a wide range of high molecular synthetic/semi-synthetic organic polymers having properties of malleability, plasticity, low reactivity and long durability. The chemical structure of plastic can be modified to a variety of strength and shape for manufacture of various products. About 4% of the world’s oil production is converted into plastics for use in products that include shopping bags and the external panels of cars. The commercial benefits of plastic as well as its unique functionality makes it almost irreplaceable by any other material. The flip side of the story is that it also has severe adverse environmental effects. The petroleum based plastics are non-biodegradable and hence end up either as the major cause of solid waste pollution or in many cases enter and block the guts of animals (mainly because of its indigestibility). In addition, the use of carbon-based sources for use in manufacturing increase greenhouse gasses come to the atmosphere.
On the another hand, bioplastic is emerging as a sustainable alternative which is derived from renewable biomass sources. Broadly these bioplastic can be divided into three main categories based on the source and biodegradability. First group is biobased or partly biobased bioplastic that are non-biodegradable which include biobased Polythylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP) or Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) and biobased technical performance polymers such as Polytrimethylene Terephthalate (PTT) or Thermoplastic polyester elastomer (TPC-ET). Second group includes plastic that are both biobased and biodegradable such as Polylactic acid (PLA) and Polyhydroxy alkanoates (PHA). Third group includes plastic that are based on fossil resources and are biodegradable, such as Polybutylenes adipate co terephthalate (PBAT).
The production of bioplastic is more sustainable as compared to the petroleum based plastic production as it minimizes the burden on non-renewable resources, have less GHG emission and are more energy efficient. These are renewable and are easily biodegradable so have no or less recalcitrant properties and create no problem of solid waste pollution.