The Opportunity And Challenge Of Degradable Plastic In New Plastic Restriction Policy

Different from directly killing all disposable plastic products with one stick, the new "Plastic Restriction Order" opens up a side to the degradable plastic net, and the degradable plastic industry seems to have become the biggest winner. At the same time, however, the current degradable plastics industry is a mixed bag, and the technical level is uneven. The standardization of degradable plastics will inevitably become an important trend.

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The new "Plastic Restriction Order" clearly stated:

   Actively adopt new green and environmentally friendly functional materials, increase the use of recycled plastics that meet quality control standards and use control requirements, strengthen the development of recyclable, easy-to-recycle, and degradable alternative materials and products, reduce application costs, and effectively increase the supply of green products.

At the same time, it also specifically mentioned the need to strengthen technological support:

   Increase key core technology research and achievement transformation of recyclable and degradable materials, and improve the performance of alternative materials and products. Focusing on the safety and controllability of degradation and the economics of large-scale application, technology verification and product selection of degradable mulch films will be carried out.

These paragraphs are actually aimed at some of the so-called "degradable" plastics that are currently flooding the market. Many manufacturers use non-degradable plastics to sell under the brand of "degradable" due to immature technology or to reduce costs. Others use non-degradable plastics to mix some degradable plastics to achieve the so-called " Partial degradation", such as mixing polypropylene (PP) with polylactic acid (PLA), or mixing polyethylene (PE) with starch.

And these so-called "partially degradable" plastics, the degradable parts, such as PLA, starch, etc. will indeed degrade, and the non-degradable parts will not degrade, causing the material to be broken into very fine plastic dust, which will cause comparison. Completely non-degradable plastics are more harmful.

In the future, the standards and specifications for degradable plastics will be further improved. Falsified "degradable" will inevitably be quickly banned, and truly degradable plastics will receive the attention it deserves.

Among the current materials, there are only a few that can truly be completely degradable and have the potential to replace traditional non-reducible plastics: polylactic acid (PLA), polycaprolactone (PCL), polysuccinic acid Butanediol (PBS), PBAT, polyhydroxy fatty acid esters (PHAs), polypropylene carbonate (PPC), etc.

Biodegradable plastics are no longer a new concept, but they have not been widely promoted, precisely because there are still many unsolved problems in the industry chain. The promulgation of the new plastic restriction order will inevitably accelerate the maturity of the degradable plastics industry. It will solve any problem in the degradable plastics industry chain and will become a very valuable competitiveness in the future.

For PLA, the production capacity of high-quality monomer lactide will inevitably need to be further expanded and scaled up, while for PHAs, PPC and other degradable plastics with mature upstream monomers, it is necessary to further expand the production capacity of resins. .

While expanding production capacity, downstream modification and processing are also very important. Due to the lack of rigid structure in the molecules of degradable plastics, the mechanical properties are often poor, and modification is a crucial link. For example, pure PLA is too brittle as a shopping bag, while PBS is too soft as a degradable film.

As a degradable plastic, the degradation problem in the processing and use process is also a factor that must be controlled. It is an inevitable requirement to select the appropriate processing equipment and process conditions to match the appropriate shelf life.

In general, solving the balance between performance and cost is the core problem facing biodegradable plastics at this stage. The implementation of the new "Plastic Restriction Order" is both an opportunity and a challenge for the degradable plastics industry.
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