Bioplastics almost ready for mass market
The need for alternatives to traditional petroleum-based plastics couldn’t be more clear. In the past decade, oil prices have more than doubled, and land fills are rapidly running out of space to dispose of used bottles. In an effort to remain competitive, many companies have begun to develop what are called “bioplastics,” which are made from either microbial products or plant material.
One of the big leaders in this effort is the German corporation BASF, which has manufactured plastic bottles for the European market for decades. It expects that the global bioplastics market will be worth about $1 billion within the next two years, as fuel and disposal costs rise.
American corporations such as Archer Daniels Midland, Dow Chemical and DuPont are also interested in bioplastics. However, current market demand favoring traditional plastic bottles means that their research is going forward slowly, to make sure the bottles are ready when consumer demands change.
It is hoped that through education and pricing these companies can slowly phase out plastic bottles in favor of bioplastics once the latter becomes more affordable. In the meantime, there is an emphasis on recycling plastic bottles into new items, such as turning old milk jugs into railroad ties.