The Sustainable Polystyrene Alternative

We have all heard that one of the sources for pollution are plastics. Normally plastics can last even centuries underground and they are a big problem in large cities where everyday tons of these materials are dumped.  The problem is specially critical in countries with a low level of recycling like developing countries. All of us have seen images of municipal dumps where there is people walking around with dogs and tons of wastes around them.

Besides recycling another approach for handling all these plastic scraps and lower its environmental impact is creating biodegradable plastics. The Mexican company KUO has created a biodegradable plastic called BIORENE.

BIORENE is a thermoplastic resin based on starch and polystyrene which replaces up to 50% of petroleum-derived content starch, which can come from corn, cassava, wheat or potatoes. Starch
is a renewable material and 100% biodegradable. Under the appropriate conditions, the content of this substance decomposes and BIORENE reintegrates into nature in three months.  

BIORENE helps to reduce the environmental impact or “carbon footprint” because, by growing plants from which starch is obtained CO2 is absorbed from the atmosphere as well, and using less energy in its processing, generate less emissions. Thus dioxide carbon balance with BIORENE is lower than with a traditional plastic. Some current applications are disposables and cutlery, but some other applications with this kind of materials are planned to be developed such as tires. 

The customers for this product are 60% local market and the rest is exported to other countries in America and Europe. This kind of approach can be very useful in developing countries to reduce the environmental impact of plastic wastes, and it is an example how a company in a developing country can improve the sustainability of its products and become more competitive in the world.

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Posted in community, ecological degradation, sustainable living, sustainable technologies
One comment on “The Sustainable Polystyrene Alternative
  1. jeremy says:

    This is a major problem Arturo. A former student was looking to develop this as a business in Singapore. Last time I spoke to her she was having trouble convincing supermarkets to get involved because of the cost factor. This is another instance, perhaps, where government might use its influence to send the right price signals through taxes/subsidies.

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