Biodegradable and Non-Biodegradable Polymers

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What are Biodegradable Polymers?

Biodegradable Polymers

Biodegradable polymers are the ones which get easily decomposed in nature by the aerobic and anaerobic process. Biodegradable polymers can be put inside a bioactive environment, which allows them to undergo degradation with enzymatic actions of microorganisms like fungi, algae, and bacteria. Non-enzymatic processes like chemical hydrolysis can also break down the chain of BP.

Difference Between Biodegradable And Non-biodegradable Polymers

Biodegradable Polymers

The biodegradables are non-resistant to natural degradation; thus, they quickly get decomposed in nature and do not create any waste material. Moreover, these polymers have small chains that help them break naturally in a short time. 

The chains are hydrolytically or enzymatically cleaved, which results in the degradation of the products. This type of ability is mostly required in biomedical applications, where the polymer's degradation is a must to ensure the clearance from the body while eliminating the need for retrieval.

Some examples of biodegradable polymer applications are sustained drug delivery, tissue engineering scaffolds, and temporary prosthetic implants. 

Non-biodegradable Polymer

What Are Non-biodegradable Polymers? 

One of the most serious issues in recent years regarding these polymers is that we have tons of waste products floating in the ocean and dumped on lands. These polymers are polyethene and polypropylene, which are made to be durable. This means that these polymers are hard to decompose, and they provide strength and durability to the products in which they are used. 

In addition to this, plastics, which we see every day in our lives, are often soiled by food and other biological substances, making the physical recycling of these materials almost impossible to happen and generally undesirable. 

More than 80% of the non-biodegradable plastic packaging is used only once, and then it is discarded. 

Thus, it creates waste that is deposited in the oceans and on lands, affecting the natural balance of wildlife and nature. Indeed, these polymers bring lots of usability with them, but with nature and its protection in mind, we need to think about the decomposable alternatives and we should not create a mess while discarding them after use.

What Are Biodegradable Polymers Made From?

Plastics that can be broken down in the environment naturally is the answer to our pollution worries. There are several biodegradable polymers, and each of them can be classified into different properties using their chemical composition, origin, and method of synthesis. Most of the biodegradable materials come from plants such as soybean and corn. There are different biodegradation rates for other products. The third rate biodegradation takes a longer time to decompose entirely in nature than the first-rate biodegradable polymers.

On the other hand, non-biodegradable polymers are made from different polyethene, polypropylene, etc. These polymers react to the other chemicals to create stronger bonds, which give plastics different properties such as clarity, strength, stiffness, etc. 

Types of Biodegradable Polymers

Biodegradable polymers are of three types. Some of them are synthetic based, while some can be easily found in nature. Given below, we have shown different types of polymers, which are biodegradable. There are edible polymers as well. 

Natural Biodegradable Polymers 

They come from nature and are made from raw materials or renewable resources such as starch, cellulose, and lignin. Also, these polymers can be made using proteins like gelatin, casein, wool, and silk. 

Polymers of PHA family

These polymers are made using genetically modified bacteria such as hydroxybutyrate, hydroxy valerate, polyhydroxy hexanoate, and hydroxy alkanoates.

Synthetic Biodegradable Polymers

When a chemical polymerization occurs for the bio monomers like PLA, polycaprolactone, polybutylene succinate, and polybutylene succinate adipate, the product found at the end of the chemical reaction are synthetic biodegradable polymers. They are not present in nature, but they can be easily dumped in nature after the reaction as it will break down and decompose.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are non-biodegradable polymers?

When we say a product is non-biodegradable, it won't break down to natural form or into environmentally safe conditions over time with the help of the biological process. They will remain in the place for a long time until they are burned. The non-biodegradable polymers are cost-efficient, versatile, and durable; thus, people prefer using them over biodegradable products.

2. Why do we need biodegradable products?

When we are using biodegradable plastics, we are saving nonrenewable resources. Bioplastics come from natural sources such as corn crops and switchgrass. Also, when biodegradable materials are used to create products, minimum carbon emission occurs during the composting process. 

Biodegradable products allow us to have eco-friendly solutions to environmental problems. It reduces one of the most critical issues we face in the 21st century, i.e., the dumping of waste. With biodegradable products, you can dump them in the land, and within a few days, it will be decomposed.