A safer plastic alternative has been created by Scientists from the Centre of Sustainable Chemical Technologies (CSCT) at the University of Bath. The new type of plastic is biodegradable, manufactured in a cleaner process, and doesn’t use harmful chemicals.
The plastic is made from sugar and carbon dioxide only. For the purpose, the scientists use a naturally occurring sugar called thymidine. CO2 is added to the sugar at low pressures and at room temperature. The process creates a polycarbonate – a tough type of plastic used to make drinks bottles, lenses for glasses and in scratch-resistant coatings. Polycarbonates are typically made from petrochemicals.
This is not the first biodegradable plastic, nor the first sugar-based plastic. Unlike previous solutions labeled as biodegradable that would only decompose in temperatures of 50C, the plastic created by Bath University’s scientists doesn’t depend on high temperatures. It is degraded back to its initial ingredients using only the enzymes found in soil bacteria.
Previous sugar-based plastics that have been announced include a highly toxic chemical – phosgene – in the manufacturing process. Phosgene was used as a chemical weapon in World War I! The new sugar plastic uses carbon dioxide instead and is also BPA-free.
Researchers at the University of Bath have created a biodegradable plastic using just sugar and carbon dioxide.