Plastics made from trees

Lignin is present in different plants and trees, it is the substance that gives the necessary rigidity to these living beings, together with cellulose it forms a vegetable composition. A few years ago it began to be considered as an ideal biopolymer for the manufacture of various products based on plastic.

It is a renewable natural resource so we can consider that it has potential industrial use, however, it is required to evaluate the number of products that are based on polymers to consider the feasibility of its use. Spruce, pine, eucalyptus, and acacia are the main tree species that have this resin.

International studies support the generation of bioplastics based on lignin, which is mixed with other resins obtaining benefits and characteristics comparable to the most common polymer resins.

The search for ways to reduce the environmental impact has led researchers to find innovative techniques and materials to replace mainly single-use plastics, as an alternative to polymer resins works well, however, for lignin to be inserted as a preferred raw material in the market requires an in-depth study that analyzes advantages and disadvantages.

Firstly, the extraction process that the resin needs to have the properties to replace certain polymers must be evaluated, since many of these techniques can be just as polluting, secondly; it is necessary to calculate the total production costs and lastly, to determine the number of trees required to meet market needs, for example, water bottles.

According to a study published by Nature Sustainability, this material has benefits such as mechanical resistance and resistance to ultraviolet light, as well as excellent liquid retention, in addition to the fact that the way it naturally reintegrates into the environment is friendlier, in addition to this, the recycling of products made with lignin is simple and in general if they have a lower impact than plastics derived from petroleum or others made from biomasses.

Large-scale production

Currently, studies and practices are carried out in isolation, it is necessary to make citizens and industry aware that mass production would involve the use of resources that do not necessarily come from waste, so the use of a forestry simulation is relevant to make a calculation that approximates the real figures.

The trend of abuse by many industries of materials is a reality, if what is intended is to combat the impact on the environment perhaps we should reconsider the use of packaging and products from trees or other organic materials, the decrease of this type of living beings results in increased temperatures and increased CO2 as there are fewer organisms capable of processing them. Is anyone protecting these forests and ecosystems?

The solution

Without detracting from the efforts made around this type of innovation, we believe that recycling is the most effective way to reduce environmental impact. What is needed is a strategy implemented globally by governments and industry alike.

The only way to make this a reality is through education of the population, understanding the importance and the need to separate each of the materials presents a solution that has not been duly taken into account.

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