Corn plastics or Bio-plastics: The challenges

Plastics are used widely in everyday. They are quite dangerous to our environment as they are non bio degradable meaning they don’t decay. So there is a need to keep on recycling them.  Also the plastics are manufactured from oil which is a non renewable resource. They are actually carbon based polymers of different organic compounds like ethylene, propylene, styrene, phenol and many more.

 Bioplastics cornplastic2

New technologies are being developed to produce degradable plastics. They are referred to as bio-plastics. One such example is the plastic made from corn oil called corn plastic. Their manufacture is also known to release fewer toxic chemicals into our atmosphere. These plastics also are capable of degrading in few months.
 
In order to produce corn plastic, the raw material corn has to be converted into long chains (polymer). PLA or poly lactic acid is what is got by fermenting the corn starch. The process starts with the grounding of corn after separating the endosperm from the fiber. Then enzymes are added to the starchy endosperm to convert it into a simple sugar called dextrose. This sugar is then fermented into lactic acid which has lactide molecules bonding into long chains called polymers. From the polylactic acid, plastic is made.

cornplastic

Though corn is a renewable resource, corn plastics do have some disadvantages. Foremost disadvantage is such bio plastics could degrade only under hot and moist compost facility. It cannot decay anywhere and everywhere. Also it is quite difficult to identify items made of corn plastic from ordinary plastic. When they are mistaken for ordinary plastic and taken for recycling along with ordinary ones, they may contaminate the recycling process. The bio plastic industry is yet to start growing overcoming the hurdles that it faces in the plastic industry.

 

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