Awareness of the harmful effects of plastic pollution is growing. Only yesterday the shock news that microplastics also penetrate fruit and vegetables. Research knows it has to work faster and faster on greener alternatives, first of all bioplastic.
Japan's NEC Corp has today made NeCycle commercially available, a material it hopes will be part of the solution. It is precisely a bioplastic made with plant ingredients, a material capable of decomposing in the environment in just four years.
Plastic is everywhere
Plastic has become a ubiquitous material for modern society, taking the form of grocery bags, toothbrushes, soda bottles, and packaging for many types of everyday consumables. The downside to this invasiveness is the long-lasting problems it poses to the environment. Plastic takes many, too many years to biodegrade, and in all this time it is a threat to humans, animals and the environment.
We have seen many promising research that could lead to greener alternatives. Scientists have changed their methods of making plastics that biodegrade in sunlight.
NEC has managed to develop a "recipe" that it claims offers the same durability as traditional material, but is much friendlier to the environment. Called NeCycle, it is made up of about 50 percent cellulose from inedible plants such as wood and straw and can be used for injection molding just like regular plastics.
The NeCycle brand, it says on the official website NEC, indicates a new recycling style that is not limited to the material. The production process of this bioplastic, in fact, allows those who want to recover it by recycling the simple material and recycling the CO₂ which is absorbed by the vegetable component which constitutes the main resource of the material.
Other innovations that complete NeCycle are related to physical and thermal resistance, all factors obtained with plant derivatives, and no longer with polluting chemical products.
The performance of these bioplastics is exactly the same as normal ones, the difference is that it doesn't take many years to decompose. Researchers are mass producing these bioplastics. First, NEC will start with products for which high added value and respect for the environment are required and, in the future, aim to expand.