Advantages of Bioplastics in Industrial Production
ENGL 203 – 007
November 9, 2021
Advantages of Bioplastics in Industrial Production
Plastic has become one of the most common materials found in everyday life. Because of the flexibility of its chemical characteristics, plastic has become a widespread option in a diverse assortment of both consumer and industrial applications. Due to this, the demand for plastics has only continued to heighten to immense numbers. This is a cause for concern as the production of regular synthetic plastics has its fair share of disadvantages to both the environment and the economy. Lately, the prospect of bioplastics as an alternative to synthetic plastic is being examined to reduce the dependence of all industries on the latter. In manufacturing, bioplastics confer several advantages such as: utilizing renewable resources, lowering production costs, and improving versatility of chemical properties.
The sustainability of the required components is one of the advantages in bioplastic fabrication. From the name itself, bioplastics make use of bio-based materials by refining these into proper polymers. A continuous supply of biomass that few industries take advantage of is food wastes. By taking advantage of food waste, the issue of insufficiency of constituents can be avoided. Tsang et al. (2019) stated that carbon-neutral resources from various sources can be utilized in the manufacturing process of bioplastics. Since food waste is mostly biodegradable and largely considered a carbon-neutral product, it is an excellent perpetual reserve for the bioplastic industry. Using such products greatly reduces reliance on the non-renewable alternative constituent, petroleum. Since food wastes are always generated by both industrial and commercial fields, these can be put into effective use via bioplastics instead of being left to decay in landfills and such.
Additionally, bioplastic components could also be grown with the main purpose to be an ingredient for polymer preparation instead of relying on second-hand runoff sources. According to Ebnesajjad (2013), plant materials can be transformed into useable polymers for bioplastics by using chemical processes such as bioconversions and reactions while being modified by physical, chemical, and genetic methods. By dedicating farmlands to produce plants for this sole purpose, it avoids competition of supply from other industries that make use of the same crops. This can also be an effective option for deciding which crop can be grown to best suit the chemical process in manufacturing.
Another benefit of bioplastic assembly is that it is a cost-effective material to mass-produce. The main competition that bioplastic faces come from synthetic plastics. In the past, synthetic plastic has always been cheaper to fabricate when compared to bioplastics. However, modern advancements have been bridging the gap in production costs between these two in favor of bioplastics. Arikan and Ozsoy (2015) reported that despite being currently costly in terms of large-scale industrial assembly, the trend of future developments and innovations in bioplastics is expected to greatly reduce the expenditure of production. Thus, adopting bioplastic production is more cost-efficient in the long run as the fluctuating prices of oil and gas will continue to rise in the coming years due to shortage. Especially since eco-friendly alternatives are favored nowadays, companies are looking to invest in opportunities to reduce their overall carbon footprint. With the increasing scarcity of oil and gas, synthetic plastic production costs are only expected to rise in contrast to that of bioplastics whose production expenses are predicted to reduce.
Moreover, bioplastic assembly can be considered more efficient than regular plastic in terms of harnessing energy from the material used. Chen (2014) mentioned that biomass resources used for bioplastic production can be recycled and exploited for energy generation. Consequently, residual materials from bioplastic processes can be treated to be employed in other bioprocesses that require similar substances. As a result, factories have good reason to devise and setup up additional processes to create side products aside from bioplastic.
Lastly, the adaptability of bioplastic’s composition is an additional advantage in manufacturing. Considering that the make-up of base polymers used for bioplastic production can vary widely, process operations are not subjected to strict material requirements and environmental conditions compared to its alternatives. Factories do not have to necessarily dedicate wide scale operations on a bioplastic with one specific composition. Shivam (2016) asserted that various industries can benefit by using bioplastics as the biodegradation nature can be modified to adjust specific needs and requirements. Hence, manufacturing plants are only required to slightly modify their fabrication mechanism to create bioplastics with a diverse range of chemical structures. These manufacturing plants can also avoid expensive equipment replacements when shifting to a bioplastic with a different configuration. Factories can also take advantage of the abundance of whichever useable resource is available at their location, they are not bound by a singular main constituent such as petroleum.
Furthermore, the flexibility of the chemical design of bioplastics is largely due to having numerous possible components. Sidek et al. (2019) remarked that some commonly used materials for compostable polymers are wood, annual plants, and farmed crops. As a result, these different constituents create additional possibilities when devising industrial operations as the material that best fits the constraints and requirements can be chosen. In fact, factories may be able to use different types of material at the same time through different processes to increase production while exploiting every accessible resource.
In summary, bioplastics have many considerable advantages when it comes to industrial production. Firstly, they are dependent on inexhaustible resources such as food refuse and assorted greenery. Secondly, using bioplastics is an economical venture since long term investments are cheaper than that of synthetic plastics, and runoff post-production material is useable for additional bio products. Finally, bioplastics possess high adjustability, thus industrial operations are not restrained by some conditions that synthetic plastic production face. It may be true that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages of bioplastic production in the past; however, this is hardly the case now as continuous research has modernized the entire approach to bioplastic production thus amending past disadvantages and devising greater benefits.
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Arikan, E. B., & Ozsoy, H. D. (2015). A review: Investigation of bioplastics. Journal of Civil Engineering and Architecture, 9(2), 188-192. https://doi.org/10.17265/1934-7359/2015.02.007
Chen, Y. J. (2014). Bioplastics and their role in achieving global sustainability. Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research, 6(1), 226-231. https://www.jocpr.com/articles/bioplastics-and-their-role-in-achieving-global-sustainability.pdf
Ebnesajjad, S. (2013). Handbook of biopolymers and biodegradable plastics. Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/C2011-0-07342-8
Shivam, P. (2016). Recent developments on biodegradable polymers and their future trends. International Research Journal of Science & Engineering, 4(1), 17-26. https://www.irjse.in/volume4.php
Sidek, I. S., Draman, S. F. S., Abdullah, S. R. S., & Anuar, N. (2019). Current development on bioplastics and its future prospects: An introductory review. INWASCON Technology Magazine, 1(1), 3-8. http://doi.org/10.26480/itechmag.01.2019.03.08
Tsang, Y. F., Kumar, V., Samadar, P., Yang, Y., Lee, J., Ok, Y. S., Song, H., Kim, K. H., Kwon, E. E., & Jeon, Y. J. (2019). Production of bioplastic through food waste valorization. Environment International, 127(1), 625-644. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2019.03.076