Plastic from Seaweed
Earlier this month I read that the Indian National Institute of Ocean Technology had developed a bio-plastic film using marine seaweed which they say could have a huge impact on limiting the usage of non-biodegradable plastics and a game-changer in the plastic industry.
As yet this is not commercial, but a French company called Eranova worked out some years ago how to make plastic from seaweed, and they are now in the pre-production stage. See Eranova Website
Making plastic from seaweed and marine algae is a much better idea than using scarce land and water resources to grow food crops like corn or potatoes to make plastic.
I have just seen an advert for “compostable” plastic by an Israeli company called TIPA. It shows an orange, with quite a clever strapline “Nature’s packaging is compostable, why should ours be any different?”
The answer is that nature has designed orange peel to biodegrade in the natural environment, but plastic sold as “compostable” is designed to biodegrade in a man-made composting environment, to which it may never be taken.
As regular readers of this column will know, I think “compostable” plastic is an expensive irrelevance, for the reasons given at https://www.biodeg.org/subjects-of-interest/composting/
I have just been reading about a company called Xampla, which has found a way to extract protein from soya beans or peas, and turn it into plastic. It has attracted an investment of £6million.
It is not clear whether, when the vegetables have been turned into plastic, the plastic is biodegradable and recyclable, and how its costs and availability would compare with polyethylene and polypropylene. The other problem is that soya beans and peas are food crops, which should not be diverted into making plastic. In any event there could never be enough feedstock except for niche applications.
I have never understood why people are making such efforts and spending so much money to avoid using PE and PP, which have superb properties and will for the foreseeable future be cheap and readily available.
It is true that PE and PP are made from petroleum resources, but they are made from a by-product of oil-refining which would arise whether plastics existed or not, and it used to be wasted.
The only reason can therefore be that PE and PP take a very long time to biodegrade if they get into the open environment as litter, but this problem is easily solved by speeding up the process with an existing technology called d2w oxo-biodegradable plastic.
I asked the OPA’s scientists for their opinion about Xampla. They said “Very blue sky, and sounds like a nice way to spend a lot of capital. On the off chance that they ever go commercial, they will have a hard time competing with oxo-biodegradable PE and PP.”
Earlier Postings in this Column
- 1/ 1/ 20 – Plastiphobia, Microplastics and A Throw-Away Society
- 7/ 1/ 20 – Recycling, Lab Testing, Bangladesh and the Right Bioplastic
- 14/1/20 – Plastiphobia and Bioplastics Definitions
- 21/1/20 – Composting, the European Union and Unemployment
- 30/1/20 – Plastiphobia, Malaysia and a Case Against Compostables and Paper
- 7/02/20 – Coronavirus, MPs Letter, Montreal, Australia and the Dominican Republic
- 14/02/20 – Oman, MacArthur Foundation, Stifling Innovation, South Africa and Compostable Plastics
- 24/02/20 – Serbia, India, Pakistan and European Bioplastics
- 03/03/20 – Plastic To Protect Health and Common Sense on Plastic
- 10/03/20 – Plastiphobia, Singapore, Compostable Plastics, Doorknobs and Carbios
- 17/03/20 – Greening our Way to Infection, Defra Warns Against Bioplastics and Montreal
- 24/03/20 – Ditch the Plastic Bag Ban and Inn-Probio
- 01/04/20 – The Come Back of Plastic Bags, Compostable Plastic Not Wanted and EASAC
- 16/04/20 – Coronavirus and Agricultural Plastics
- 11/05/20 – Coronavirus, Peru, Barbados and Recycling
- 18/05/20 – Say No to Plastiphobia, False Descriptions and the Recycling Myth
- 02/06/20 – Definitions and More Setbacks for Plastiphobia
- 11/06/20 – BBIA, Food Waste and Testing of OXO-Biodegradable Plastic
- 19/06/20 – Oxo Biodegradation, Independent Reports and Precautionary Principle
- 29/06/20 – Banana Republic, Why Turn Plastic into CO2 and Plastic Waste from Ships
- 13/07/20 – Running Scared, The Daily Telegraph and Market Report
- 20/07/202 – Tipa, Plastics Today and The American Genius
- 27/07/20 – Coronavirus, Plastic Litter, Bahrain and Polymateria
- 17/08/20 – Plastics Europe, Confusing Issues and Paper
- 25/08/20 – Professor Emo Chiellini, Plastics Today, Greenwashing and Coronavirus
- 28/09/20 – Kill the Virus, Marine Degradation, Airports, Brazil Retail, Plastic Growth and Face Mask
- 08/10/20 – Compostable vs Biodegradable, Covid 19 and New British Bioplastic Standard
- 27/10/20 – Power of Lobbying, Paper and Cotton Worse than Plastic
- 02/11/20 – Covid 19 and Five Myths About Plastic
- 09/11/20 – Support for OXO BIO, Westminster Forum, Euractiv and Covid
- 23/11/20 – Toxicity of Bio-based and Biodegradable Plastics, and Covid Scaremongering
- 15/12/20 – Recycling and An Article from Austria
- 21/12/20 – EU Scientific Advisers, China Chose Wrong Bioplastics and Covid Nonsense
- 05/01/20 – EU, Covid Lockdowns, WRAP, British Standards Institution and Polymateria
- 12/01/21 – Intertek and Composting
- 19/01/21 – Recycling and Exporting Plastic Waste
- 22/02/21 – Seaweed Plastic, Orange Peel and Xampla
- 02/03/31 – OXO Biodegradable Plastic
- 08/03/21 – EU Scientific Reports and Paper vs Plastic
- 15/03/21 – India, Australia and Dow Chemicals (FREE)
- 14/04/21 – Oxomar, UK Government and Microplastics
Interview with Michael Stephen
The opinions expressed here by Michael Stephen and other columnists are their own, not those of Bioplasticsnews.com.