, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 35-42

Biodegradable Soy-Based Plastics: Opportunities and Challenges

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Today's plastics are designed with little consideration for their ultimate disposability or the effect of the resources (feedstocks) used in making them. This has resulted in mounting worldwide concerns over the environmental consequences of such materials when they enter the mainstream after their intended uses. This led to the concept of designing and engineering new biodegradable materials–materials that have the performance characteristics of today's materials but that undergo biodegradation along with other organic waste to soil humic materials. Hence, the production of biodegradable materials from annually renewable agricultural feedstocks has attracted attention in recent years. Agricultural materials such as starches and proteins are biodegradable and environmentally friendly. Soybean is a good candidate for manufacturing a large number of chemicals, including biodegradable plastics, as it is abundantly available and cheap. Soy protein concentrate, isolate, or flakes could be compounded with synthetic biodegradable plastics such as polycaprolactone or poly (lactic acid) to make molded products or edible films or shopping bags and make the environment cleaner and greener.