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Bioplastics 2

Research reveals environmental and commercial benefits to tackling bioplastics disposal dilemma

Microbiologist Wessel Myburgh “grew up” as a scientist and entrepreneur during his time as a member of the Senior Chair of Energy Research (CoER): Biofuels and Other Alternative Clean Fuels.

Now the co-founder of Urobo Biotech, Myburgh uses his knowledge of how yeasts and enzymes effectively break down plant-based waste into new products to improve the state of the planet he so dearly loves. He does this by tackling the mounting issue of what happens to used bioplastics.

Bioplastics include any plastic material that is either biobased, biodegradable or both. Some are made from plant materials only but others still have fossil resources as core ingredients, just like conventional plastics.

“If they are biodegradable, some materials containing fossil resources are still considered to be bioplastics,” Myburgh explains.

He warns that it is one-dimensional to assume that products made from bioplastics are necessarily better for the environment, as the projected increase in the use of such plastics over the next 25 years will come with its own set of problems.

“Such products are not a so-called ‘silver bullet’ solution to our plastic pollution problem. They too take years to decompose once discarded, and also release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The more we produce and use bioplastics, the more of it ends up in the environment.”

As stated on Urobo Biotech’s LinkedIn profile: “Bioplastics can be a more sustainable option than traditional plastics, but only when their waste is appropriately processed and recycled.”

“This time round, however, we have the benefit of learning from the mistakes made when conventional plastics were introduced,” explains Myburgh, who is known for his efforts to live sustainably.

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