India is slowly but steadily moving towards a circular economy. There is a greater emphasis on waste management, especially when it comes to plastic waste.
Waste management in the Indian context is complex because of the very poor source collection and segregation system prevalent in the country. The organic waste mixed with plastics and other components makes it even more difficult to segregate and separate the plastic waste for recycling. Hence the collection rate of plastic waste continues to be abysmally low in India.
While the recycling of plastic waste for the collected portion is growing, uncollected waste continues to pose a severe challenge to the issue of plastic waste management. The countries with the best collection system also face the issues of uncollected or littered plastic waste although the number is much lower than in India. Address of the uncollected wastes is extremely important for the country.
By the time the infrastructure to collect all the littered waste is developed and created, we would be sitting on a massive pile of plastic waste. One of the solutions is the use of biodegradable plastics. The biodegradable material must be able to biodegrade in the littered condition and not in an industrial composter which is far and few. To maintain the use & integrity, of the existing infrastructure of converting, packing, and lling lines, it is also important that the existing series of plastic packaging materials currently in use, be made biodegradable, instead of inventing a whole new type of biodegradable material itself. This would mean that the existing processing machines would run the biodegradable material without modification to it. Hence the arguments of biodegradable material v/s ‘existing material made biodegradable’, would heavily go in favor of the latter.
To make existing fossil plastics biodegrade is a challenge and could be addressed through the development and Validation of biodegradable Films for use in multi-layer plastics.
Multi-Layer Packaging is considered as the suitable packaging materials as compared to common single layer LMS and is characterized by special properties— such as high barrier for water vapor, gases such as O2, CO2, and aromatics, as well as offers high mechanical strength, good sealability, and resistance at low temperatures.
The aspects of bio-erosion v/s cleaving to microplastics, use of enzymes from natural sources, the concept of a natural affinity of micro-organisms to renewables like starch and aliphatic polyesters are some of the path-breaking ideas used in the process.
Because of their poor recyclability, most of these multilayers are usually incinerated / landlled, negating the circular economy. Sex has devised a technology that renders Multi-layer Packaging recyclable despite the presence of different layer polymers having different characteristics.
Sex is now able to address the “End-of-Life” stage of the Life Cycle of a multilayer packaging lm using a combination of four novel technologies that make it possible to recover high-quality granules which can be used for an array of injection or extrusion molding products.
The success of the packaging industry in mitigating the plastic waste issue, especially with the uncollected waste would depend, to a great extent, on the success of such a proposed hybrid biodegradable plastic.
To have both, environmentally friendly and functional packaging LMS, a lot of resources to develop a bio-degradable lm has been deployed by the packaging industry. The outcome is an lm which is using a combination of biopolymers, some known additives to accelerate biodegradation, and polyolefin itself for providing functional properties like a barrier, seal-ability, and mechanicals.
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