Bioplastics: Synthesis of Environment-friendly Bioplastics Out of Orange Peels

Published: 2021-09-10 21:10:09
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Category: Manufacturing, Ecology

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Plastics are very much used in today’s generation because of the convenience it has brought to us especially in terms of packaging. With the convenience plastics have brought to us, it also brought us environmental problems causing numerous researches to be conducted. Based on a research journal, environmental concerns about plastic have led onto development of eco-friendly plastics called “bio-plastics”. Bio-plastic is the term used for packaging materials that are synthesized from renewable resources like starch, cellulose, etc. which are known to be safe for the environment. The best understood advantage of biodegradable bioplastics lies in the reduction of permanent litter. Plastic single use shopping bags are the most obvious example of how plastics can pollute the environment with huge and unsightly persistence. A large fraction of the litter in our oceans is due mostly to disposable plastic bags.
The purpose of biodegradable plastic is that it will decompose, instead of the traditional incineration which is harmful to the environment, it will just be absorbed by the soil and there would be less waste to deal with and less waste to pile up in the landfills. So, they tried putting catalysts to make it more biodegradable. Yaradoddi et al. (2016) stated that the main reason for the soil contamination problem that we have come from the major sources of land pollution include plastics, metal and glass containers, food wrapping, worn-out machinery, old furniture, garbage, etc. But specifically, plastic has been a huge complication, as America makes almost two and a half million pieces of non-biodegradable plastic bottles which means more landfills will be formed and pile up, and will be eventually disregarded. They also said that plastic pollution has some harmful effects to our health. Biodegradable plastics are absorbed by the soil and unleash monomers into the environment which came from the polymers, but these monomers have less harmful consequences on our land. These days, polymers have various uses especially in the line of industrious work, as it makes materials made by manufacturers stronger. People make the most of the use of these polymers and are used basically anywhere, where you eat, where you drink, store and etc. Polymers are very widely used. To combine the use of polymers with something biodegradable and still be used with the same purpose of polymers is a big help to the environment as we lean towards an environment friendly world.Through implementation of practicing on using “bio-plastics” it will help reduce the impact of plastics in the environment and also could help minimize the consumption of resources for the future generation. The development of “bio-plastics” in the field of industrial packing technology appears to be progressive for more efficient breed of bio-materials.
One of the available resources available for synthesis of bio-plastics is fruit peels such as oranges. An experimental research was conducted with a synthesized biocomposite films from orange peel derived pectin jelly and from corn-starch that were developed on a laboratory. It was later compared with a low-density polyethylene (LDPE) based on environment assessment (Bio degradation performance). After it was scientifically compared, it was concluded that the orange-peel derived biocomposite film was more biodegradable.
Aigbodion, Atuanya, Igogori & Ihom, (2013), plans to use orange peels, a renewable source, to reinforce high-density polyethylene (used to make plastics) as they lean toward environmentally friendly materials. They want to replace other materials in composites with orange peels. Aigbodion, V. S., et al., (2013) will then compare carbonized orange peels and uncarbonized orange peels and had put the uncarbonized orange peels in a graphite container then put in an electric resistance furnace and was heated to a temperature of 1200 degrees Celsius to carbonize the orange peels. They ran different test with the composites containing carbonized and uncarbonized orange peels. It was clear that the more orange peels in the composite mixture, the stronger it is. As the experiment continues, the uncarbonized orange peels composite had the higher maximum strength than the carbonized orange peels composite. The overall experimentation in their paper’s data showed that orange peels are possible reinforcement polymers in making plastics and make it more environmentally friendly.
With the successful fabrication of a new class of epoxy-based composites reinforced with orange peels, the tensile strength, flexural strength and hardness of the composite obtained maximum for 20% weight percent of orange particle composite. SEM observation reveals that most of the particle was broken instead of pulling out from the matrix. This indicates a good bonding between particle and the matrix.
Aside from orange fruit, banana is widely available and was also used to synthesize bio-plastic. According to a research, proposed that agricultural waste (waste from farms, specifically crops) could be used as bioplastics, specifically fruit waste, this would greatly affect the market because of its maintainable use. It was possible, and they used banana peels into the formation of “biodegradable” plastic, but they are not entirely sure about it its use (strength, durability) or if it will sell in the market. A normal plastic is not biodegradable (meaning it will create more unnecessary waste, the way of disposing non-biodegradable materials is via landfills or via incineration, which will release carbon dioxide, which is harmful to the atmosphere).
Bioplastics are plastics made from renewable energy and can be decomposed and recycled properly. There are three types on how bioplastics can be recycled, namely mechanical, chemical, and biological ways of recycling. In mechanical recycling, materials were recovered but still maintaining the polymers’ mechanical structure. This is effective when bioplastic can be reused or can be turned into plastic again. In chemical recycling, chemicals were used to break down polymers in bioplastic which then can be converted to useful products like basic chemicals or polymers for new plastics. Lastly, biological way of recycling plastic uses microbial fermentation process such as microbes and bacteria to decompose the bioplastic.
Agricultural residues management is considered to be a vital strategy in order to accomplish resource conservation and to maintain the quality of the environment and lessen its pollutants. In recent years, biofibers have attracted increasing interest due to their wide applications in food packaging. Agricultural residue is not costly and has minimum effect in the environment unlike our nowadays plastic.
It is important for the global environment to have an alternative for the product derived from the traditional oil used in plastics. PHAs (are green plastics and they have positive social and environmental impact) at least will be the cleaner answer for most of the industries and society, which largely depend on materials made from the pollutive plastic. Though, no new inventions can escape from the limitations and drawbacks and bioplastics also have some drawbacks. The most important drawback for PHA production is its production cost, it is very costly, but the good news is that the price of PHA production is decreasing, whereas, petroleum oil price is steadily increasing. As a result, the gap between the petroleum oil and PHA are becoming narrow.
Biodegradability can alleviate the present waste problem globally. Starch based products are an important ingredient or component for production of biodegradable items, Starch can be made into many products. Biodegradable products like plastics made from biodegradable materials could lessen waste produced and increase material recycling and reduce the increase of landfill diversions from year to year. By using biodegradable items this increase recycling (including organic recycling) from 0 to 50% instantly while landfill diversions are actually decreased by 36%. By transitioning to biodegradable carrier bags there is also a substantial decrease in contaminants present in biowaste, which leads to almost a fivefold increase in biowaste quality. By shifting from heterogenous waste (non-biodegradable plastics + bio-waste) into homogenous waste (biodegradable plastics + bio-waste) makes biodegradable items beneficial for the Eco profile. Biodegradable items prove to be effective in improving waste quality, dealing with landfill diversions, and improving our average recycling percentages.
Most of the plastic that come from the landfill results to pollution with the composition of chemicals, only 10% of plastics has been recycled, plastics can last up to 450 years before decomposing, meaning 450 years of chance to pollute the surrounding. Polystyrene foam, a form of plastic that can last more than 5000 years, more than 10 times the lifespan of a regular plastic, we have invented tough and long-lasting plastics which purpose is to use for a long time thus instead it pollutes and damage our surrounding for a long time of use. On the other hand, biopolymers converted into biomass with the help of living organisms which is later used as manure in plants. Manure slowly releases nutrients to the soil that plants can easily absorb which is important for plant health. Disposal of bio-waste in landfill creates environmental problems, due to the huge production of CO2 and NH3. Since the waste contains large amount of sugars, carbohydrates and cellulose in them, to utilize them in ecofriendly way for industrial use with the help of bacterial fermentation in a cost-effective way is the best approach. Biomass can be converted into biofuel, biogas and bio-oil in eco-friendly way with the help of mutagenesis technique. Bioplastics’ use over conventional plastics limits due to its high cost though there are several other options to produce bioplastics from the biomass feedstock in cost efficient way. The future market for biopolymers is significantly increasing due to its sustainability and nature friendly composition. Given the fact that it is nature friendly makes great feedback and gains support from the community. The biotechnology of microorganism gives a new hope to bioplastic production could significantly influence the production to compete with current barriers and to reduce the pollution of our current world. The purpose of this thesis was discussed, and excellent results has been achieved during the research that there is a possibility to control marine pollution with the increasing use of biopolymers for the green economy. Biodegradable plastic is the effective solution to lessen and heal the damage that is occurring at our present world, after witnessing deaths of marine life caused by plastics thrown in the ocean, this shall make an improvement and change our perception about plastics.
A research has also found out that traditional plastics has a great potential to be replaced by biodegradable polymers because aside from it is produced from waste, it is environment friendly and given the fact that is it made from waste, it will reduce the mounds of waste and recycle it to a safe biodegradable plastic. Biopolymers are also possible to be used in 3D printers and such machines alike making it more efficient to make. Aside from that, highly advanced experiments aim to develop biopolymers so be used as electrical conductors by formulating them with graphene nanotubes.
Although plastics are necessary tools for our daily life, most of the plastics we use today are made up of non-degrading petroleum-based resources. Lack of degradability and the closing of landfill sites as well as growing water and land pollution problems have led to serious global concern about plastics, over production of plastics have led to serious concerns that caused casualties to the environment and life. Processed vegetables and cereals produce large amounts of waste rich in cellulose all over the world. Such waste was directly transformed into green plastics, if regular plastics are replaced by green plastics, the world would save 715.5 million tons from the world’s food supply, at a time when global warming is reducing tropical farm productivity. Two different technologies have been developed at IIT for the fabrication of bioplastics from agro-waste and starch. The first one is the direct transformation of inedible agro-waste into bioplastics and the second one is elastomerization of agro-waste or starch into robust bio-elastomers. The first process uses an organic acid to transform the cellulosic agro-waste into amorphous plastics. The acid can be recycled in closed system of production. The second process uses micronized agro-waste powders including starch dispersed in silicone-based polymer precursors to produce bio-elastomers containing not less than 50% vegetable-based ingredient by weight. Typical agro-waste products that can be used are parsley and spinach stems, cacao pod husks, rice hulls, oat hulls, orange peels, and starch. These technologies represent a unique opportunity for industries interested to adopt bioplastics market or willing to branch out to this market. IIT assets appear well positioned for an out-licensing strategy, providing the licensee partner with the ability to take care of the late stage development, CE certification, scale-up and production process. The licensee should guarantee a high probability of market success based on consolidated marketing & distribution organization. A typical licensing strategy based on entry fee and subsequent royalties on net sales can be envisaged.
In recent years, we have been in need of biodegradable plastics because of its environmentally friendly characteristics, this is how we plan to address our problems in our environment. There has been research conducted on how we can make the production of biodegradable plastic possible. Changwichan, Silalertruksa, & Gheewala (2018) mentioned that biodegradable plastics are made from sustainable organic matter from farms, especially crops via a process called microbial fermentation. Biodegradable plastics have less bad effects in our environment when it comes to greenhouse gases going into our atmosphere, and exhaustion of fossil fuels. Although, there is downsides in the synthesis of these biodegradable plastics, like using large amounts of electricity and the usage of chemicals that may be bad for the environment.

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