We’ll be running daily BATT’s all Thanksgiving week.
We’re seeing a lot of progress in biofuels development, which is good news for the environment, but what about progress with bioplastics? So glad you asked:
A team of pioneering South Korean scientists have succeeded in producing the
polymers used for everyday plastics through bioengineering, rather than
through the use of fossil fuel based chemicals.
Polymers are molecules found in everyday life in the form of plastics
and rubbers. The team, from the prestigious KAIST University and the Korean
chemical company LG Chem, led by Professor Sang Yup Lee focused their
research on Polylactic Acid (PLA), a bio-based polymer which holds the
key to producing plastics through natural and renewable resources.
“The polyesters and other polymers we use everyday are mostly derived from fossil oils made through the refinery or chemical process,” said Lee. “The idea of producing polymers from renewable biomass has attracted much attention due to the increasing concerns of environmental problems and the limited nature of fossil resources. PLA is considered a good alternative to petroleum based plastics as it is both biodegradable and has a low toxicity to humans.”
Cleaner production of plastic will make for a cleaner planet. Excellent.
Two potential issues, here:
1. Some approaches to biofuel have competed with, and interefered with, food production. We don’t want clean plastics at the cost of people starving.
2. I don’t read here that these plastics will break down any faster than the petroleum-based kind, which means that bioplastics will need to be recycled, same as the dirty kind.
The good news is that we have yet another way to clean up our act where materials production is concerned. That we know what pitfalls to avoid is even better news — as long as we do avoid them.
Live to see it!