Recycling and the Environment: a Comparative Review Between Mineral-based Plastics and Bioplastics
Aziz, Zain
Keshavarz, Taj
Kyazze, Godfrey
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How to Cite

Aziz Z., Keshavarz T., Kyazze G., 2020, Recycling and the Environment: a Comparative Review Between Mineral-based Plastics and Bioplastics, Chemical Engineering Transactions, 79, 355-360.
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Since their conception in the 1950s, mineral-based plastics have completely revolutionised our society with production reaching record highs year upon year. This cheap, and durable material has seen usage across a plethora of diverse industries and products, replacing traditional materials such as metals and wood. However, our reliance on mineral-based plastics has led to their improper disposal across the global, affecting our environments and ecosystems. As a response, different methods have been developed to help dispose of the large amounts of plastic waste produced, such as incineration or dumping in landfill sites, but these methods are not without their drawbacks including release of toxic substances into the air and leachate into the soil and waters respectively. Consequently, much interest is generated and channelled in recent years to the introduction of several types of biopolymers. These include plastics based on cellulosic esters, starch derivatives, polyhydroxybutyrate and polylactic acid. These biopolymers have been viewed as a suitable replacement for mineral-based plastics, and their production a good strategy towards sustainable development as they are mainly composed of biocompounds such as starch, cellulose and sugars. This short review article provides an overview as to whether biopolymers can rival mineral-based plastics considering properties such as mechanical strength, Young’s modulus and crystallinity and could they be regarded as a suitable material to reduce our reliance on mineral-based plastics, whilst simultaneously reducing non-renewable energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.
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