Is Polypropylene Biodegradable
Polypropylene is not biodegradable due to some of its physical properties. When something is said to be biodegradable, it can be broken down totally by bacteria and other microorganisms. This is one of the best ways to recycle because it vastly reduces pollution. There is no incineration or release of gases when something is bio-degraded.
Biodegradable materials, need to break down entirely within a short period, typically a few months. When compared to other products, biodegradable ones will always decompose much faster than materials that are not. This makes them much friendlier on the environment.
Polypropylene is a thermoplastic polymer which is made of a combination of propylene monomers. It is a type of plastic that is very common in many homes today. It is used mainly for plastics that need to be in contact with heat and not produce any harmful toxins. This type of plastic is also widely used in the textile and manufacturing industry.
It has grown to become one of the most popular forms of plastic. One of the biggest clients of polypropylene plastics is the packaging industry. Manufacturers like to use this type of plastic especially because it is light in weight. This is because it has a relatively low density and this, in turn, translates to saving on the weight when shipping or transporting.
This type of plastic has many advantages and hence its increasing popularity. One of these advantages is that it makes excellent living hinges. These are hinges that are very thin and can swivel close to 360 degrees. This means that they can bend without breaking. This makes them great additions on bottle caps or on lids of drinking or pill bottles, or anything that does not bear any load. They would not be suitable for anything that requires holding up a load such as on a door.
Another advantage of polypropylene is that it has a slippery surface which is great for use in low friction situations. It also has good resistance at room temperature to solvents like fats. This is why it is a widely used plastic for cookware. However, it is subject to oxidation when exposed to high temperatures.
It also has a great resistance to chemical reactions, which makes it a great material for making liquid cleaners that may react with any other material they are put into. You do not want to put your household cleaners into conventional plastics that may change the chemical composition of the contents.
When it comes to heating up or cooking in the microwave, you want to make sure that you use a container that is safe and does not contaminate the food. Polypropylene is classified as a thermoplastic due to its ability to handle the heat. It does not change the chemical composition of the food when it is placed in a microwave and this is why it is important to use plastic that is microwave safe.
It is also known as a very tough plastic which means that it can bend a considerable amount and not break. It also does not lose its shape even after you bend or flex it. This is another reason why it is the perfect material for living hinges. This plastic also has a high resistance to electricity which makes it a good material to use in electrical components.
With so many advantages, polypropylene plastic continues to grow in popularity in different sectors. However, with anything that is widely used, the question comes up about its cycle of life. Where does it end up in the grand scheme of things?
When people and companies have used it, how is it disposed of? These are all pertinent questions for the world today. Some businesses switch from one packaging company to the next all in a bid to keep it green. As such it is important to know how and why the material you are using is impacting the planet.
There are more and more consumers that are making sure to check if the packaging on the product they want to buy, is recyclable or bio-degradable. Polypropylene is one of the environmentally friendly plastics.
Because it is one of the more widely used plastics, means that a lot of people and companies are looking to find out how well it gels with the environment. The biggest question being is it biodegradable. This type of plastic is many things but it is not biodegradable, which by definition means decomposing completely within the space of one year with little to no harm to the environment.
Polypropylene will only decay after 20 to 30 years. As it decays it releases toxins into the air and soil which goes against the definition of being biodegradable, where the process needs to be as harmless to the environment as possible. Some biodegradable plastics have faced resistance in way of arguments that they release toxins into the soil and hence can not be said to be biodegradable.
All plastic materials and plastic products release toxins into the soil as they decay, even though some plastics decay faster. Biodegradable plastic may have this label however it is not entirely friendly to the environment. You may find that they need temperatures of above 50 degrees Celcius, to degrade fully. In as much as Propolythene is not fully biodegradable, it is still much friendlier on the environment than PVC. It releases fewer toxins.
One of the reasons why polypropylene is not biodegradable is mainly because of its properties and how it is made. There are generally two types or this plastic, and these are homopolymers and copolymers which are then divided again into block polymers and random copolymers. Polypropylene is especially popular for its ability to be easily molded and also for its strength, which it gets from additives put during manufacture.
Block copolymer contains up to 15% ethylene which is what helps improve impact resistance. Random copolymers have co-monomers arranged randomly and these have up to 7% ethylene. These are the ones that are chosen for clearer products.
The additives and the complex construction that polypropylene is made of is one of the reasons why this sort of plastic can not be broken down entirely, in a shorter space of time, and without harming the environment with harmful toxins. You can reuse it but biodegradation is not in the cards for polypropylene.