Eggshells: The Next Innovative Frontier to Bioplastics
Bioplastics is a booming business these days, especially in Europe, where the industry that brought us things like biogradable dishes and recyclable plastic is positioned to grow by more than 300 percent by 2018. Made from renewable sources like corn, vegetable starches and cooking oil, these "green" biobased polymers offer an ingenious replacement to petroleum products that take much longer to break down in landfills and are harder to recycle.
But as many scientists will tell you, not all biobased polymers are created equal. Thermoplastic polymers, which are made from food starch for example, work well as pharmaceutical capsules because of their digestibility. But they also break down easily when exposed to moisture and wouldn't work well as commercial packaging. Polylactic acid plastics (PLA) made of corn or sugar on the other hand, are sturdier and can sometimes be blended with conventional petroleum polymers to make things like cups and 3-D printing plastics. Adding bio-based substances to conventional plastic polymers helps reduce the amount of petroleum required in production.
Jan Lee splits her residence between the rural lands of Idaho and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Her articles on business, eco-travel, history and culture have been published in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. Visit her blog at multiculturaljew.polestarpassages.com
Photo credit: Flickr/Caitlin Regan