Many people have been shifting towards using biodegradable polymers to offer a solution to environmental problems. Everyone in this society has a part to play to help slow down climate change and reduce emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide.
There are many ways to become eco friendly. You can change your habits by using compostable cutlery and other products to reduce plastic waste. A degradable film can also help you become more sustainable.
If you want to know more about a degradable film, you don’t have to look any further. This guide will cover everything about it.
Table of Contents
- What Is A Biodegradable Film?
- Difference From Plastic Films
- Applications And Benefits
- What Material Is Biodegradable Film Made Of? Are There Any Safety Hazards?
- Where Can You Buy Biodegradable Films?
What Is A Biodegradable Film?
Biodegradable films are made of plastic-based films and additives that help them break down. They are mainly used for food packaging, garbage bags, and much more. The additives are mainly inserted into the biodegradable film during the production process.
These additives mainly include enzymes that help with the decomposition of the biodegradable film. Naturally occurring microorganisms such as fungi can break down this material without any negative environmental impact.
Some materials that can be used for making a biodegradable film include:
- Lipid materials
The best thing is that companies can also add antimicrobial or antioxidant agents to their biodegradable films. This helps improve food safety if the same film is used for making food packaging.
Difference From Plastic Films
Biodegradable films vary from plastic films because of different compositions. There are different types of biodegradable films that are present on the market.
The environmental impact of these films is also different. Here are some things that will help you understand the differences between biodegradable and plastic films better.
Traditional plastics mainly comes petrochemical materials. This is why plastic films are made of non renewable resources. So it can be hard to decompose them.
The main raw material for plastic films is natural gas. However, crude oil can also be used to produce them. Due to their composition plastic films are mainly called petroleum based plastic films on the market.
Meanwhile, a biodegradable film is made of natural polymers. Here are some types to help you understand this item better:
Starch Based Biodegradable Films
Starch based plastics are mainly made of products that contain this item. Corn, potatoes, or wheat are used for creating these biodegradable films. The best thing about these conventional polymers is that they are inherently biodegradable under specific conditions.
Their inherently biodegradable property also makes them superior to petroleum based plastic films. They can degrade within 180 days or less. Starch based biodegradable films also do increase the net amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Additive Based Biodegradable Films
Many companies add additives to conventional polymers to make them more degradable through oxidative mechanisms. The incorporation of additives to biodegradable films can also make them slightly hydrophilic. This means the product will be able to facilitate microbial attack on other items easily.
The best thing about these biodegradable films is that they are certified non toxic unlike some of their non biodegradable counterparts. These films are also safe for food contact. This is why they have high importance in the food packaging industry.
Applications And Benefits
There are many applications of films such as starch based biodegradable films in the packaging industry. Their properties make them safe for food contact enabling the usage of these films in active packaging.
Here are the key applications and benefits of a biodegradable film:
Biodegradable Films Are Used In Multiple Industries
It is no secret that starch based biodegradable films and other degradable films are used mainly in the food packaging industry. They can be used to coat paper boards and egg trays. This is because these biodegradable films are safe for food contact unlike some traditional plastic films.
Wrapping films and bags that are used to carry food can also be made of a biodegradable substance to reduce plastic waste. Another primary application of these films is in the agriculture industry.
Agricultural films are commonly used for mulching soil due to their high sustainability. Many of these agricultural films are also certified non toxic for the atmosphere. This is why one does not have worry about a negative impact on the soil due to the usage of biodegradable films.
Biodegradable films are also used in the packaging of cosmetics. This is because many people are concerned with the environmental impact caused by the beauty industry.
The final application of biodegradable films is in the healthcare industry. Food service wares in hospitals can be made of a biodegradable substance. The main reason behind disposable products such as wheat tableware in hospitals is to reduce the spread of illnesses.
Antimicrobial properties of biodegradable films also offer more safety to users.
Biodegradable Films Help Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions
It is no secret that people want to reduce their negative environmental impact by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. This is why multiple industries opt for biodegradable films for active packaging.
Innovative strategies and renewable resources are used for make these films more eco friendly. The main reason why carbon dioxide amount produced is low during the production of biodegradable plastics is that these films are made of plant-based products.
Starch based biodegradable films are made of corn or wheat. This is why they have low carbon inside. When these biodegradable plastics are composted they do not emit much toxic gases.
A biodegradable film meets safety standards when used in the food production sector. It also offers an alternative solution to harmful plastic films.
These Films Do Not Require Much Energy
Biodegradable films are often made from renewable resources, such as plant-based materials like cornstarch, potato starch, or sugarcane. These materials are derived from crops that can be grown and harvested within relatively short periods.
In contrast, traditional plastic films are derived from fossil fuels (crude oil or natural gas), which are finite resources and require extensive energy-intensive extraction and refining processes.
Another reason why biodegradable films do not require much energy for production is that they can be manufactured at low temperature. A biodegradable polymer material can melt at a lower heating value than other plastics.
The manufacturing process of biodegradable films also requires less steps than the production process of other plastics. This is why the overall energy expenditure of biodegradable films is lesser.
Starch based biodegradable films can be produced using high speed machines. The advancement of technology can also turn the process of making these films into a two stage process, depending on the type of high speed machines.
The best thing about needing low energy for production is that finite resources can be saved more easily. This is why various companies use biodegradable films to package food products and display their business as sustainable.
A Biodegradable Film Is Eco-Friendly
There are many properties that make starch based biodegradable films eco friendly. For instance, the net amount of carbon in the environment remains unchanged when these films are produced. This is why there is no need to worry about negative environmental impact when using biodegradable films to coat food products such as trays.
Another thing that makes these films eco friendly is that these films are made of renewable resources. They have tensile properties and good shelf life while being environmentally friendly. The best thing is that they can degrade naturally within 180 days.
This is why biodegradable films do not contribute much to landfills. If more companies start using these items, the amount of plastic waste in the environment can also decrease. These properties allow high sustainability.
The great thing about these films is that they are low cost as compared to other plastics. This is why biodegradable alternatives are preferred over standard plastics in multiple industries.
Biodegradable films can also help manage organic waste because they can be composted. They will break down with the waste and the compost can be used to enrich soil. Plant growth can be supported using these films unlike other plastic items.
Biodegradable Films Need Less Petroleum Than Traditional Plastics
Oil is one of the primary components of regular plastic films. Petroleum also has a negative environmental impact due to its harmful properties. This is why many sectors are encouraged to reduce their production of petroleum-based products.
The good thing about biodegradable films is that during their manufacturing process the usage of petroleum is limited compared to the production of traditional plastic films. Natural materials are used for creating the eco friendly films.
By reducing our reliance on petroleum-derived resources, biodegradable films contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to packaging and other applications. This, in turn, helps to lower greenhouse gas emissions, decrease the depletion of non-renewable resources, and reduce the overall environmental impact associated with plastic production and waste.
However, remember that the complete environmental impact of petroleum depends on its life cycle and usage in other industries. Different sectors must work collectively to adopt biodegradable films for packaging to make a significant impact.
Biodegradable films are called green compostables unlike other plastic items due to their breaking down feature. These items can be composted in a backyard or at a local facility. The main reason behind this title is that it allows people to dispose the films while being eco friendly.
Some starch based biodegradable films can be composted within 180 days while others may take lesser time, depending on the optimal conditions. Another property that makes this item a green compostable is that it is overall environmentally friendly due to greener production methods and usage of renewable resources.
A biodegradable film also does not release any toxic products when it is composted naturally. This means that that item does not pose any risk to living beings after degradation. It can also be used to enrich soil for enhancing plant growth.
These films can also help reduce organic waste and plastic waste in landfills. This is why it decreases landfill from turning into a sealed landfill.
A sealed landfill means the space is at its full capacity, so it cannot be used for containing more waste. The final thing that makes a degradable film a green compostable is its low carbon footprint.
What Material Is Biodegradable Film Made Of? Are There Any Safety Hazards?
Biodegradable plastics can be made using different materials. Their primary composition may include starch or cellulose. Remember these natural products have to be used with different polymers.
Starch can be used with polycaprolactone (PCL) or polyvinyl acohol (PVA). However, the most polymer that starch is used with to produce starch based biodegradable films is polylactic acid (PLA).
PLA is compostable and biodegradable product that can be derived from natural items such as corn or sugarcane. It is used to replace petroleum products in multiple industries commonly. PLA straws are also popular on the market.
Meanwhile, PVA films are mainly used for plastic bags such as garbage bags. This is mainly due to its good strength and moulding properties. There are also cellulose-based biodegradable films on the market.
Cellulose is a natural material that can be derived from plant sources. Wood sources can also contribute to this item. The best thing is that it is abundant in the environment and has a high strength.
The material is also renewable, so it can be used to produced eco friendly films in no time. You must also remember that while biodegradable films may be eco friendly, they can have some safety hazards.
Here’s what you must know about these hazards:
It is no secret that biodegradable films can cause choking hazards if they are ingested. This is true for most plastics regardless of whether they are eco friendly or not. Covering one’s mouth or nose using this film can also be hazardous due to suffocation.
This is why you must keep these films away from children and pets. It is also important to dispose your biodegradable plastics the right way. An excellent method to get rid of these films is by composting them.
Remember you must provide optimal conditions when composting the material for better degradation. Optimal temperature and moisture in the environment will lead to faster decomposition.
Ingesting these films may not release toxic chemicals into a person’s body. However, it can lead to discomfort and other health issues.
Limited Shelf Life
Another hazard of biodegradable films is that they have limited shelf life. This is why they can reduce the lifespan of the products they coat. So egg trays or wrapping films lined with these films will have a limited shelf life.
Here are some key factors that can influence the shelf life of biodegradable films:
- Composition: The type of biodegradable material used in the film can affect its shelf life. Some materials, like PLA, are more susceptible to degradation over time compared to others. This is why PLA is used for specific products such as straws which have shorter lifespan.
- Environmental Conditions: Biodegradable films are often more sensitive to environmental factors, such as heat, humidity, and light. Exposure to high temperatures and moisture can enhance the degradation process, reducing the film’s shelf life.
- Production Process: The manufacturing and handling processes of biodegradable films can also impact their shelf life. Proper handling, storage, and protection from external factors can help extend the shelf life.
The lifespan of biodegradable films can be improved by using the earlier factors to maintain optimal integrity. However, these films will naturally degrade under specific conditions. So you should never expect them to last permanently.
Some Additives May Contain Chemicals
Many people believe that biodegradable films are always chemical-free, but that is not the case. This is especially true if you are using additive-based biodegradable films for packaging. That is because some additives contain chemicals.
So every biodegradable film is not food grade. Such items may be used for packaging cosmetic products. The main drawback of additives containing chemicals is that toxic products will be released upon their degradation.
These chemicals can cause harm to the environment. It can also affect living beings that are within the range of those toxic byproducts. This is why it is necessary to be mindful when choosing a company that sells biodegradable films.
Starch based biodegradable films are a better option because their production does not involve chemicals.
Where Can You Buy Biodegradable Films?
There are many places that sell biodegradable films. Online marketplaces are one of the top places to get this item. You can also use retailers such as Homestraw to get biodegradable films.
The best thing about using an online retailer is that you can buy the item in bulk at a cheaper rate. Some places also sell different types of biodegradable films for a versatile experience. This is why you can enjoy an extensive variety to meet your needs.
This is everything you need to know about biodegradable films. These films are made of natural resources for a more eco friendly experience.