Comparing the Biodegradability of Petroleum-based Plastic with a Novel, Sustainable Bio-plastic Alternative
(1) Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science, Manahawkin, New Jersey
The convenience and affordability of single-use plastic products makes them an attractive option for consumers. The toxic constituents of these traditional plastics, however, are known to cause a variety of health issues in thousands of species. These environmental hazards, along with the issue of white plastic and microplastic pollution, causes increased interest in biodegradable alternatives to petroleum-based hydrocarbons. In this research, a novel bioplastic inclusive of bamboo tannins and chitosan is selected from more than 60 trial formula variations based on resulting strength, fatigue, and transparency attributes. The biodegradability of the finalized bioplastic is compared to that of conventional polyethylene, in addition to investigating its solubility and water absorbance. Biodegradation rates of the bio-based plastic exceeded that of the petroleum-based formula, as determined with Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIRATR) analysis. The behavior of the experimental product in water deviated from the initial hypothesis, with substantial weight increase of approximately 193% after 60 minutes. A cost analysis displayed a difference of $0.0016 between the two products, with the natural additives of the experimental being more expensive. This research displays the potential of a legitimate, fully biodegradable plastic alternative to current marketplace bioplastics.