Author(s): Ray SS, Okamoto M
Advanced technology in the field of petrochemical-based polymers has brought many benefits to mankind. However, it is becoming more evident that the ecosystem is considerably disturbed and damaged as a result of the nondegradable plastic materials for disposable items. The environmental impact of persistent plastic wastes is increasing global concerns, and alternative disposal methods are limited. Incineration of the plastic wastes always produces a large amount of carbon dioxide and creates global warming, and sometimes produces toxic gases, which again contribute to global pollution. On the other hand, satisfactory landfill sites are also limited. Also, the petroleum resources are finite and becoming limited. For this reason, there is an urgent need to develop renewable source-based environmental benign plastic materials, especially in short-term packaging and disposable applications that would not involve the use of toxic or noxious components in their manufacture and could allow the composting of naturally occurring degradation products. One of the most promising polymers in this direction is PLA because it is made from agricultural products and is readily biodegradable. PLA is not a new polymer; however, recent developments in the manufacturing of the monomer economically from agricultural products have placed this material at the forefront of the emerging biodegradable plastics industries.