Starch-based biodegradable plastics in China

China proclaimed a law prohibiting the environment’s pollution with disposable plastic packing materials.

The annual production of plastic in China is nearly 4 million tonnes. Plastic consumption is more than 1.4 million tonnes in the packing industry.

The potential market for degradable plastic is enormous. So far, domestically produced degradable plastics includes the following two types:

Bio-degradable starch resin

By adding starch or modified starch to polyvinyl hydrocarbons, particles of biodegradable starch are produced.

These can be further manufactured into degradable plastic bags, disposable plates, forks and spoons, degradable products for medical care, etc.

Bio-and photo-degradable starch plastics

These are mainly used for agricultural plastic mulching, packaging film for food and groceries, and packaging film for industrial products.

These plastics are not only decomposed by bio-degradation but also by photo-degradation.

China has more than 50 manufacturers, with an annual production capacity of 100,000 tonnes.

Among them, about ten factories introduced production technologies from abroad. But, these degradable plastics are mainly starch plastics which require 7-40% of starch as filling.

The base materials are polyvinyl and polystyrene plastics, which are not fully degradable.

The plastic mulch produced by this 563 process is difficult for the farmers to use because this starch-based plastic has low water resistance, is relatively thick, and is of high cost. Further research is needed to improve this product.

Recently, some local companies have developed a technology for producing fast food boxes using starch and plant fiber as raw materials. The technology uses maize cobs, rice bran, and sweet potato as raw materials to manufacture bowls, discs, boxes, spoons, etc.

Their hardness and brightness are nearly the same as ceramic. Once used, they can be recycled as feed and fertilizer and will thus not pollute the environment and be a source of waste.

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