Plastic or food? – The new sustainable packaging

Scientists from all over the world study ecological substitutes for plastic. Every year more than 80 tons of styrofoam is produced in Brazil and only 8% of it recycled.

Coca-Cola produces bottles with 30% of raw material from sugarcane since 2010. These bottles reduce dependence on petrol used in plastic manufacture and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Coke ensures that no sugar cane planting areas are compromised over food production. After all, what would be the gain in producing something sustainable to the environment, but at the expense of the hungry population?

In Harvard, it was developed a bioplastic made from shrimp shells. They use chitosan, that countains chitin, a resistant polysaccharide, present in the exoskeleton of shrimp. The advantage of using shells is that they are usually discarded by the industry. This packaging is hard, transparent, recyclable and biodegradable. In addition, it releases nutrients for plants, when thrown on the ground.

Plastic shrimp

Another novelty is the replacement for the expanded polystyrene, commonly known as styrofoam (polystyrene or, in Portugal).  Created by a high school student in Brazil, is made from sugar cane fiber. While the cooler takes up to 100 years to decompose in the environment, the vegetable version takes only a month to do. She is patenting the product and expects a company to show interest in producing it in scale.

Styrofoam and plastic cane sugar

To decrease garbage, the Dutch firm VolkerWessels made asphalt fully made by recyclable plastic. Among the advantages: no petrol used, reduction of pollution generated in the production of asphalt and low maintenance required.  The material supports large temperature fluctuations, is lightweight and its installation is faster than the conventional one. It is also hollow, for the passage of cables and pipes under the surface.

Plastic asphalt

We hope that these products will soon be the rule rather than the exception in the market.

Sources: Rumo SustentávelRede GloboExameMinas Sem LixõesExame

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