In our current world where only 9% of 400 million tonnes of plastic waste is being recycled, we need to make rapid changes for the betterment of our planet. So to better handle the inevitable plastic pandemic we have to improve the sustainability of plastics.
Thankfully in the wake of this looming danger, our scientific community is trying its best to curb the damages caused by plastics. Right from the making of plastics to their disposal a number of new methods have been developed. Plastics are generally made with petroleum and natural gas, the extraction of which involves fracking. Fracking is one of the most harmful human activity out there. Now, instead of normal plastics, we can make bioplastics which are made of starch, cellulose, wood, sugar and biomass. This makes the production of bioplastics a more sustainable activity compared to conventional plastic production. But since biodegradability depends on the internal structure of the material rather than its origin, bioplastics are not completely biodegradable. But they are comparatively more biodegradable than traditional plastics. Now to solve the biodegradability issue, a new kind of plastic is being made with the help of microorganisms that feed on seaweed to produce a bioplastic polymer called polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA). This new kind of plastic can be recycled into organic waste.
Even though these new plastics have achieved our goal they are far from being the norm everywhere. The traditional plastics are still used all around the globe because it is cheaper and more versatile than bioplastics. But, the development is still going and it is expected to be able to replicate traditional plastics as much as possible.