Bioplastics “are materials that come from renewable sources and can be used to reduce the problem of plastic waste that is suffocating the planet and polluting the environment.” Its usage is being promoted as an alternative, “consisting in obtaining natural polymers from agricultural, cellulose, or potato and corn starch waste.” (“What are Bioplastics?” 2018). In the Global market, it is shown that 45% of the manufactured plastics consists of biodegradable plastics, and 55% consists of non-biodegradable plastics, with Asia-Pacific accounting the largest regional market and anticipated the fastest growing regional market, followed by Europe which is estimated the second largest regional biodegradable bioplastics market. (“Bioplastics – A Global Market Overview”, 2018). It is reported in brandongaille.com that “26.3% of the current global production capacity of bioplastics involves PET. Starch blends account for 18.8% of the market.” They show that Asia is the largest producer of bioplastics in the world today which accounts for 56% of the total production, followed by Europe with 18% and North America contributing 16%. (“25 Bioplastic Industry Statistics, Trends & Analysis”, 2018).
Bioplastics are basically plant-based plastics. For example: Cellophane is a soft and flexible plant-based plastic usually composed of corn; this material is made “by dissolving plant fiber in alkali and carbon disulfide to create something called viscose. The viscose is then reconverted to cellulose in cellophane form after a sulfuric acid and sodium sulfate bath. The cellophane is further treated with glycerol to make the dry cellophane less brittle. The cellophane may then be coated with nitrocellulose or wax to make it impermeable to water vapor. A few nasty chemicals in that process – for example, high levels of carbon disulfide are toxic; affecting the nervous system.” (Bloch, 2010-a). Linoleum is another plant-based plastic which shows to be a flexible material and is more durable than a PVC, though not as water-resistant. It is mentioned that studies showed that this material is energy intensive when being manufactured. (Bloch, 2010-b).
All of these points show that bioplastics have existed for a long time, and there are some manufacturers all over the world whom are interested in manufacturing these types of materials due to problems normal plastics cause in the environment. On the other hand, the manufacturing stage of these products tend to be complicated. In a website named www.instructables.com (2009), it showed a method of making a bioplastic that was simple to make, using only materials such as cornstarch, water, and cooking oil. The result was a rigid plastic.
Malabar spinach, or Alugbati, “is a succulent, branched, smooth, twining herbaceous vine, several meters in length.” (“Alugbati”, n.d.) Malabar spinach is a vining plant, growing for about 20 feet. This plant lives in warm climates since it dies from frost, and it is rich in mucilage (Dave, 2015). Mucilage is “A polysaccharide substance extracted as a viscous or gelatinous solution from plant roots, seeds, etc., and used in medicines and adhesives.” (“Mucilage”, n.d.).