Decomposable plastic

Various kinds of plastic products have greatly enriched people's lives, but disused plastics are decomposed very slowly in nature, and they have to be completely decomposed for decades. As a result, plastics have also brought an annoying problem to mankind - rubbish problems - while improving people's quality of life. In the United States alone, millions of tons of waste plastic are discarded each year.

In order to properly solve the problem of plastic waste, chemists are changing the structure of the plastic itself so that the waste plastic completely decomposes in less time. Currently, there are two types of decomposable plastics. One type is a type of photodecomposition. In this type of plastic, a photosensitized group is added to the polymer chain at regular intervals. Such plastics are safe and stable under the irradiation of artificial light, but under the irradiation of sunlight (containing ultraviolet light), the photosensitive group can absorb enough energy to break the polymer chain here, so that the plastic can be break down. The other type is biodegradable plastics. This kind of decomposable plastics introduces some groups on the polymer chains so that microorganisms in the air and soil can break long-chain macromolecules into fragments and then completely decompose them. At present, such plastics are mainly starch-based biodegradable plastics. Now, some chemists are developing non-starch biodegradable plastics. For example, lactic acid-based biodegradable plastics, polysaccharide-based natural plastics have been produced. Lactic acid-based plastics are based on potatoes and other non-staple food wastes. These wastes have high levels of polysaccharides. After treatment, polysaccharides are first converted to glucose and finally to lactic acid. Lactic acid can then be polymerized to produce lactic acid-based plastics. This kind of plastic is not only low in cost but also easy to handle. It can be burned (no toxic gas is produced) or recycled (does not cause any pollution to recycled products). Of course, if it is discarded, it can be easily decomposed by microorganisms. Polysaccharide-based natural plastics are derived from a starch-like compound that is found in some natural materials such as corn and crab shells. This natural plastic can be broken down within a month.

Chemists also made bio-polymerized plastics, which are the end products of natural bacteria. They can be broken down by microorganisms in the soil in a short period of time.

It is believed that once these degradable plastics largely replace the plastics currently used, the environmental pollution caused by plastic wastes will surely be solved.

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