Byproducts are materials left over from food production. They are produced at farms or when food is processed. Byproducts are not the primary goal of the agricultural system, but can be just as important.
Byproducts are important for reducing food waste, recycling, and creating new products. Scientists and farmers are always looking for ways to use materials left over from food production to make other products such as bioplastics.
This cutlery is made from plant-based plastics.
Bioplastics are items made from natural sources such as corn, pea and potato starch, vegetable fats and oils, straw, woodchips, food waste, and animal fats and oils. Bioplastics can be used to replace petroleum-based (fossil fuel) plastics which are commonly used today. Some examples of items made with bioplastics include yogurt containers, straws, and disposable utensils.
Scientists are working hard to create bioplastics that break down much faster and easier than plastics from fossil fuels which have been used for decades.
This graph shows where some bioplastics come from and what they are made into!
Petroleum-based plastic products are made with the same petroleum oil used to fuel vehicles. These plastics can take thousands of years to decompose and are littering environments around the globe.
Plastics take years to decompose and end up as litter around the world!
Some bioplastics are biodegradable and decompose within a few months. Currently, industrial composters are needed to take care of non-biodegradable plastics though. Bioplastics can be used to make containers and packaging, plates, utensils, and more. There are many scientists, engineers, and others developing this type of plastic to make sure it is more environmentally friendly and low cost for everyday use.
The bioplastics that are being created now are more environmentally friendly.
Some of the products that are made with bioplastics may look the same, but they are much better for the planet!