General, Research, Technology

Sustainable future: bags created that biodegrade in seawater

The fact that our planet suffers from excessalmost everyone knows about plastic waste on land and the world's oceans. First, everything is visible with the naked eye - look out the window and you will probably see plastic bottles and bags on the ground. Secondly, this problem of humanity is daily reported in the news. To save the planet, many countries are trying to reduce the amount of plastic waste, and Japan is particularly successful in this endeavor. Earlier, the government ordered sellers to charge buyers at least 2 yen (about 1.36 rubles) for each plastic bag - it is believed that thanks to such measures, people will use them less often. Be that as it may, people still need bags and are actively using them, so recently a material was created in Japan that decomposes faster than plastic. So, it is environmentally friendly and familiar in appearance, but what is its disadvantage?

Packages will rise in price in Japan soon, but they will be environmentally friendly

New replacement for plastic

About creating a new material for craftingpackages were told by the Japanese broadcaster NHK. The development was carried out by one of the divisions of Mitsubishi, a well-known car manufacturer. There are currently no details on how the company's employees managed to create the new material. But the journalists found out from what raw materials the bags are made, how they look and what is their only disadvantage.

This is how new bags from Japan look like - quite familiar "T-shirts"

The new material is reported to be based onvegetable raw materials, including sugar cane. This perennial plant grows in the tropics, that is, it is not capable of damaging the environment and human health. What other elements are used in production is not reported, but among them there is probably something "not natural". According to the Japanese edition, in seawater, bags made of the new material decompose after about a year. It sounds like a long time, but when you consider that current plastic products do not decompose for millennia, this is an excellent result.

See also: How does plastic litter affect fish health?

World ocean pollution

The developers emphasize that packages especiallythey quickly decompose in seawater. The fact is that it is home to much less bacteria than on land, which is why plastic products may not disappear for more than a thousand years. What exactly is responsible for the rapid decomposition, the researchers do not report. It may well be that the "natural" material attracts more bacteria, which together can break down the bag faster.

This picture can be observed almost anywhere in the world.

As mentioned above, previously the Japanese governmenturged store owners to charge people extra for plastic bags. Probably, in addition to using new packages, the authorities will introduce several more innovations. According to their plans, by 2050, Japan will completely cease to be a source of garbage entering the oceans.

Japan is trying to fight not only garbage on our planet, but also in space

As for the minus of the bags from the new material -it lies in the fact that their production requires great efforts. Accordingly, they will cost more than current plastic bags. The exact cost is not yet known, but it is reported that the price will be about six times higher. Perhaps this will push people to abandon such bags and switch to paper materials. By the way, paper also decomposes in about a year.

This is also interesting: Why is tea in bags dangerous for health?

In general, Japan is worth praising. The fact is that a lot of rapidly decomposing materials have been developed over the past 5-10 years, but only a few of them have shown ready-to-use products. For example, in 2017, my colleague Vladimir Kuznetsov talked about a new environmentally friendly polyethylene created by Russian scientists. It was also created on the basis of plant raw materials, but at the moment ordinary polyethylene is used in the stores of our country, which definitely cannot be called safe for nature. And in Japan, new packages will obviously be introduced - samples already exist, and the plans of the authorities seem to be very serious.

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But to save our planet one cutthere is little plastic production. Along with the creation of sustainable materials, it is important for scientists to come up with a way to eliminate already discarded waste. We have already talked about one interesting technology for the destruction of plastic waste - last year, scientists proposed a method for splitting plastic into carbon dioxide and water. You can read more about this technology in this article.