It’s not yet the norm here in the States, but if this new sugar-based plastic actually takes off, composting might become as widespread as it is elsewhere–because this stuff, unlike current “biodegradable” plastics, breaks down in a matter of months, instead of centuries. This is a big deal.
There are biodegradable plastics on the market now, and some retailers actively use it instead of normal plastic bags. But even though it’s made of natural materials like corn, it still takes as long as a few hundred years to decompose–better than vinyl, sure, but not exactly ideal. This new type of plastic, developed by researchers at Imperial College London, is created from glucose polymers extracted from trees and grasses. Not only is it faster to decompose, but it would halt dependency on fossil fuels, which are used to make 99% of today’s plastics, and it’s said (though no details are provided) that its production is more energy-efficient than typical plastic.
The development team is currently engaged in creating a market-ready version of the tech, but is optimistic that it can be done. Hopefully sometime soon we’ll be able to toss plastic wrappers and packaging into the compost bin along with our banana peels.
[Via the Telegraph UK]