Summary
Biodegradable plastics are plastics that can be decomposed by the action of living organisms, usually microbes, into water, carbon dioxide, and biomass. Biodegradable plastics are commonly produced with renewable raw materials, micro-organisms, petrochemicals, or combinations of all three. While the words "bioplastic" and "biodegradable plastic" are similar, they are not synonymous. Not all bioplastics (plastics derived partly or entirely from biomass) are biodegradable, and some biodegradable plastics are fully petroleum based. As more companies are keen to be seen as having "Green" credentials, solutions such as using bioplastics are being investigated and implemented more. The definition of bioplastics is still up for debate. The phrase is frequently used to refer to a wide range of diverse goods that may be biobased, biodegradable, or both. This could imply that polymers made from oil can be branded as "bioplastics" even if they have no biological components at all. However there are many skeptics who believe that bioplastics will not solve problems others expect. Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) was first observed in bacteria in 1888 by Martinus Beijerinck. In 1926, French microbiologist Maurice Lemoigne chemically identified the polymer after extracting it from Bacillus megaterium. It was not until the early 1960s that the groundwork for scaled production was laid. Several patents for the production and isolation of PHB, the simplest PHA, were administered to W.R. Grace & Co. (USA), but as a result of low yields, tainted product and high extraction costs, the operation was dissolved. When OPEC halted oil exports to the US to boost global oil prices in 1973, more plastic and chemical companies began making significant investment in the biosynthesis of sustainable plastics. As a result, Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI UK) successfully produced PHB at a yield of 70% using the strain Alcaligenes latus. The specific PHA produced in this instance was a scl-PHA.
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Biodegradable plastic
Biodegradable plastics are plastics that can be decomposed by the action of living organisms, usually microbes, into water, carbon dioxide, and biomass. Biodegradable plastics are commonly produced with renewable raw materials, micro-organisms, petrochemicals, or combinations of all three. While the words "bioplastic" and "biodegradable plastic" are similar, they are not synonymous. Not all bioplastics (plastics derived partly or entirely from biomass) are biodegradable, and some biodegradable plastics are fully petroleum based.
Plastic
Plastics are a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic materials that use polymers as a main ingredient. Their plasticity makes it possible for plastics to be moulded, extruded or pressed into solid objects of various shapes. This adaptability, plus a wide range of other properties, such as being lightweight, durable, flexible, and inexpensive to produce, has led to its widespread use. Plastics typically are made through human industrial systems.
Microplastics
Microplastics are fragments of any type of plastic less than in length, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the European Chemicals Agency. They cause pollution by entering natural ecosystems from a variety of sources, including cosmetics, clothing, food packaging, and industrial processes. The term macroplastics is used to differentiate microplastics from larger plastic waste, such as plastic bottles or bigger pieces of plastics. Two classifications of microplastics are currently recognized.
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