In recent times, the world (including third world countries) is becoming cognizant about the hazardous effects of plastic bags on the environment. To counter this, researchers have come up with Bio Plastics. Though bio plastics are not regarded as competition for the traditional packaging, they definitely are a complement. Bioplastics can be defined as plastics that are partly or fully derived from renewable resources and are convertible as well as biodegradable.
Some of the main advantages of bioplastic include potential to generate less greenhouse gases and it also requires less energy to produce when compared to conventional plastics. The manufacturers as well as suppliers of these material handling and bioplastics industry also claim that as these contemporary plastics are made from renewable sources, hence have they the advantage of being compost and when burnt, it produces greener energy since the renewable carbon content of the raw materials is recycled back into carbon dioxide. An example of bio plastic is polylactic acid which is manufactured from renewable sources and is known to have been chemically recycled through hydrolysis into PLA feedstock lactic acid. Polyethylene, which is being manufactured from sugarcane waste in Brazil is also a successful example of bio degradable plastics.
Besides, bio plastics made from petrochemical sources too are becoming a favourite among the people. Although they appear like traditional plastics in appearance, but the characteristics of both are poles apart. Some other resources from which these bio plastics can be produces are starch based plastics, Poly-3-hydroxybutyrate, Polyamide 11 and genetically modified bio plastics.
The application of these plastics materials are wide as they are gaining immense popularity among the environment conscious people. New, durable as well as disposable bio plastics are being developed, thanks to the range of bio plastics available today. Since the production of them is regarded as a more sustainable activity thus the use of bioplastics is especially popular for disposable items, such as packaging and catering items.
Their attribute of being reusable, also makes it an indispensable choice for shopping bags. Trays and containers for a wide variety of perishable goods is also produced from bioplastics. Non-disposable applications include mobile phone casings, carpet fibres, and car interiors, fuel line and plastic pipe applications. The recent trend in non disposable implication include electro active bioplastics that are being developed to carry electrical current.
Some of the basic shortcomings that are confronted by the manufacturers involved in the packaging of bio plastics are – dependence on petroleum as an energy and materials source and the recycling process, which can be unreliable and expensive.
In this context the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) is planning to hold its highly successful National Technical Forums alongside AUSPACK, on the 17 and 18 of June, 2009. The theme of the event is aimed to be Packaging MEGA Trends that will emphasize on the key trends in the packaging and material handling industry all over the world. For the successful implementation of this event, Packaging Magazine has collaborated with the Australian Institute of Packaging to identify the Packaging Mega Trends of 2009 and the expected participation is more than 300 people.