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Biodegradable Plastics E-mail

Code No: TMS168 Price: Rs950/- Category: Materials & Chemicals: Materials


Summary  :  : Plastics have become an important part of modern life and are used in different sectors of applications like packaging, building materials, consumer products and much more. Each year about 100 million tons of plastics are produced worldwide.

Demand for plastics in India reached about 4.3 million tons in the year 2001-02 and would increase to about 8 million tons in the year 2006-07. Currently, however, the per capita consumption of plastics in India is only about 3 kg compared to 30-40 kg in the developed countries. The present market in India is of about Rs. 25,000 crore.

Hazards of Plastics: Most of today\'s plastics and synthetic polymers are produced from petrochemicals. As conventional plastics are persistent in the environment, improperly disposed plastic materials are a significant source of environmental pollution, potentially harming life. The plastic sheets or bags do not allow water and air to go into earth which causes reduction in fertility status of soil, preventing degradation of other normal substances, depletion of underground water source and danger to animal life. In the seas too, plastic rubbish - from ropes and nets to the plastic bands from beer packs -choke and entangle the marine mammals.

Bio plastics are biodegradable plastics, whose components are derived from renewable raw materials. These plastics can be made from abundant agricultural/animal resources like cellulose, starch, collagen, casein, soy protein polyesters are triglycerides. Large-scale use of these would help in preserving non-renewable resources like petroleum, natural gas and coal and contribute to the problems of waste management. Biodegradable plastics degrade over a period of time if exposed to sun and air.

Though the demand for biodegradable plastics is increasing, acceptance of biodegradable polymers is likely to depend on factors like

  • Customer response to costs;
  • Possible legislation by governments; and
  • The achievement of total biodegradability.

Immediate application areas identified in India for biodegradable plastics are Agricultural Mulch, Surgical Implants, Industrial Packaging, Wrapping, Milk Sachets, Foodservice, Personal Care, Pharmaceuticals, Medical Devices, Recreational, etc.

TIFAC report on biodegradable plastics highlights the Indian efforts in this direction, as well as activities at some of the major centres of development in USA/Canada, Germany, Scandinavian countries and Japan. This report also gives brief details of biodegradable plastic technology developed by University of Nebraska, Chronopol, Inc., EPI Environmental Products, Inc., Isolyser Company, Inc., Solpax Limited, Novamont, Federal Cartidge Company and a few other companies. In addition, the reader would find lists of worldwide manufacturers of polymers and additives, international organizations and standards for testing biodegradability.

Year of Publication : 2003

Table Of Contents :  : Executive summary; Few statistical figures on production of polymers in India, world and India\'s share; Steps taken by various State Governments & Government of India in this line; Plastics & biodegradable plastics; Plastics and environment; Global & Indian scenario; Total Production and Demand Scenario of Biodegradable Plastics in India   & Worldwide; Preferred options for Indian industry; Application areas for biodegradable plastics; Details on the technology development in India by various R & D centres; Industries engaged in manufacturing biodegradable plastics/additives; Problems faced by the existing Indian biodegradable plastic product manufacturers; Worldwide manufacturers of polymers/additives; problems faced by the existing Indian biodegradable plastic product manufacturers; Worldwide manufacturers of polymers/additives; International organisations & standards for testing biodegradability; Societies & organisations working in this line globally; Products specifications for the range of biodegradable plastics & material classes; Various technological routes adopted for manufacturing biodegradable plastics; Cost comparison of various polymers/additives; Patents; Indian Market; Survey findings; Feed back of different sectors; Technology providers and suggested options for India; List of associated institutions/agencies which can be engaged for further developmental work; Useful information - News articles/publications giving information on plastics & biodegradable plastics, technologies, Norms & impositions in India - Extracts from Hindu, Tuesday, august 21, 2001 \'management of plastic waste\' - comparison of physical properties - Tensile strength test on a typical degradable polyethylene and polypropylene of M/s. Willo ridge plastics, inc Enlanger, KY USA.- rate of biodegradable of various materials; Specifications of "re-source-Bag TM", a totally biodegradable product, available from biocorp, USA; Annexures

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Materials that undergo significant structural modifications (mainly reduction of molecular weights) when placed in suitable environments (ASTM D - 883) are called Environmentally degradable polymers.

Biodegradable materials: Materials that by action of microorganisms gets quantitatively converted either to CO2 & H2O or CH4 & H2O under aerobic or anaerobic conditions.
  • Hydrolytically degradable materials : Materials that undergo degradation by hydrolytic process
  • Photodegradable materials : Materials that undergo degradation by combined action of light and oxygen.
  • Oxidatevely degradable materials : Materials that undergo an oxidation degradation process.
  • Blending synthetic polymers with natural materials (e.g. starch)does not make the products biodegradable. It only renders the product to easily disintegrate. However residues of synthetic polymer could persist in the environment indefinitely.
  • A material derived from nature is not necessarily Biodegradable e.g. Natural Rubber.
  • Chemical transformation of natural resources often make the material Non-Biodegradable, e.g. cellulose in biodegradable but not cellulose acetate.
  • The worlds production of plastics in 2001 was 145,766,750 TPA .
    (Source : Dr. Sivaram, Dy. Director & Head, Polymer Division, NCL - Pune)
  • The production of plastics in India in 2001 was 2,945,500 TPA.
    (Source : Dr. Sivaram, Dy. Director & Head, Polymer Division, NCL - Pune)
  • World wide demand for Biopolymers in 2000 was only about 25000 tonnes
    (Luigi Marini, Commercial director of suplier Novamont, Novara, Italy)
    (Source : Modern Plastics, December 2001)
  • US demand for polymers derived from starch and fermentation will reach nearly $ 600 million by 2005, predicts Freedonia Group, Cleveland, OH.
    (Source Modern Plastics, December 2001)
  • One of the manufacturer based in Cambridge M/s. Metabolix, is leading a $ 14.8 million, 5 year development project that began in October 2001, and for which the U.S. Dept. of energy is providing half of the funding. The goal is to genetically engineer seeds of Switchgrass, a perennial prairie grass, so that fully grown grass contains 15% - 20% polyester. the production cost of polymers per pound could be 30-50 cents or lower and should be suitable for films, fibers and mouldings.
  • The usage of plastics in India is growing quite rapidly and is likely to touch the consumption level of 8.0 million Mt per annum by 2006-07.
  • Statistical figures presented by Dr. Shivram, Dy. Director & Head, Polymer Division, NCL-Pune, in International Symposium on Bidegradable Polymers on 17th November 2001, at IICT - Hyderabad, are as follows:
  • Per capita consumption of plastics in the world & India - 19kg & 2.7 kg
  • Recycling % of plastics in the world & India - (apprx.) 20% & 60%
  • (in India, this 60% recycling includes, 3% land fill & 8% incineration)
  • Plastics in solid waste streams in the world & India - 7% & 0.5%.
  • The changing scenario of Globalization in India will push the consumption further up.
  • Polypropylene and Polyethylene (PP, PE) alone contribute 60% of the total consumption.
  • Majority of recycling is done from PP and PE.
  • There are no facilities/technologies to recycle polymers like Polycarbonate, Nylon & there are 5 facilities for recycling PET. The percentage of utilization of these above 3 materials is about 15% of the total plastics used.
  • Though smaller there is a movement against usage of plastics, it is limited to mainly films with leser gauges.
  • Still there is a good scope for recycling various plastics waste to recover as high as Rs.5,000 crores.
  • Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India, came out with Recycled Plastics Manufacture & Usage Rules, 1999 (notification included).
  • Norms imposed by various state governments on usage of plastic bags are enclosed  (detail included).
  • Options for India : Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
  • Long term technology options (Source: keynote address of Dr. Shivram, Dy. Director & Head,, Polymer Division, NCL - Pune, in 'International Symposium on Biodegradable Polymers' 17th November 2001, at Indian Institute of Chemical Technology - Hyderabad)
  • Exploitation of cellulose from bagasse and cotton lintel; Re-examine cleaner technologies for regenerated cellulose (non xanthate methods); evaluate cellulose esters as EDP along with biodegradable plasticisers.
  • Value addition to non edible starch from wasted/spoiled grains; Conversion of starch to lactic acid polymers; Plasticised thermoplastic starch for disposables.
  • Biological breakdown of plastics releases CO2 & CH4, both heat trapping green house gases. There is now an international effort to reduce these emission (Kyoto Protocol)
  • Production of Biodegradable polymers need more burning of fossil fuel to generate energy leading to increased emissions of green house gases