Biodegradable plastic wrap

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Written By Marc Helman

Tackling new challenges with a passion for the environment.

The plastic industry is a major contributor to environmental pollution. The production of plastics has increased dramatically over recent decades, and it now accounts for approximately 10% of global energy consumption. In addition, there are many other sources of plastic waste that have not been included in this estimate. Plastic products can be found everywhere: on land, at sea, and even within our bodies.

One plastic product has been particular prevalent in our every-day lifes: plastic wrap.

Plastic wrap is everywhere. It is used as food packaging, wrapping paper, household insulation, medical tape, and more. But did you know that most of these uses were invented only recently? And they weren’t always so convenient!

A short history of plastic wrap

In fact, until about 100 years ago, people wrapped their foods with cloths, leaves, newspapers, or anything else available. This was because no one knew how to mass-produce plastic yet. Today, consumers around the world, and the grocery stores they shop in, have more than a hundred brands of the super water-resistant substance to choose from.

“If you look back to the 1950s when we didn’t have as effective food storage like we do now, you can see why it was so popular,” says Leah Bendell, a marine ecotoxicologist from Simon Fraser University.

Invented in 1938 by an engineer named Wallace H. Carothers while he worked on polyethylene — a synthetic polymer derived from petroleum — plastic wrap has been called “the most useful invention since sliced bread.” It’s also known as Saran Wrap because its inventor accidentally mixed PE into his product instead of cellulose acetate. In fact, the first commercial use of plastic wrap came not from the U.S., where it was invented, but Japan,

A sticky problem for our environment

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away enough plastic wrap each year to circle Earth three times. That means if everyone stopped using plastic wrap tomorrow, it would take us nearly two centuries to recycle all of it.

But what exactly happens to all those wrappers once they’re discarded? They end up in landfills, which eventually leak methane gas, leach toxic chemicals into groundwater, and burn hot enough to ignite nearby trash.

The good news is that plastics can be made from renewable resources and many of them are already being used to make products we all need or want. 

The search for alternatives

There are many other options besides using paper towels to cover your food. Some people use parchment paper, which has been around since ancient times. Others opt for cloth napkins, which don’t require washing after every meal. But there isn’t much research comparing how well those methods work compared to wrapping food in plastic film.

So far, the jury seems to be out.

However, some companies are working hard to develop new ways to replace plastic wrap.

Biodegradable plastic wrap 

Some companies produce reusable wraps made from cornstarch and soy protein. Others have developed bioplastic films made from plants such as flaxseed, potato starch, sugarcane or wheat straw.

Other biodegradable alternatives include natural fibers such as cotton, hemp, jute, linen, sisal, flax, bamboo, and soybean hulls.

All of them break down naturally after exposure to air and moisture. However, some may require special composting conditions before breaking down completely.

Here is a list of products currently available on the market: 

1. Bee’s Wrap Reusable Beeswax Food Wraps

These wraps can be used to store leftovers or as a handy way to cover food while it’s in transit from your kitchen to your table. They come with two sizes: large and small. The beeswax is sourced from sustainably managed hives that produce all natural products without using any pesticides or chemicals. Each package contains enough wax to make 12 wraps.

2. BioFlex Polymer Film

Bioflex polymer film is produced from corn starch which means this product comes from sustainable sources. It’s 100% recyclable and compostable. This material is perfect for wrapping foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, breads, cheeses, etc. It keeps items fresh longer and helps prevent contamination.

3. New Miracle Food Wrap

This New Biodegradable Plastic Wrap Keeps Food Fresh Twice as Long. The new bioplastic wraps are made by combining chitosan and grapefruit seed extract into sheets or rolls. They degrade naturally over time, so they won’t leave any nasty chemical residue behind when you’re done cooking. And because GSE contains antioxidants, your food will stay fresher longer than if you were wrapping them up in regular plastic wrap.

4. BIO-Bag

BIO-Bags are made from plant based polymers instead of petroleum-based ones. Not only do they reduce carbon emissions, but also contain no toxic additives. Their unique structure allows air to flow freely around stored goods resulting in less oxidation and better flavor preservation. Made From Recycled Materials & Compostable!

5. Biolefin Biodegradable Heat & Shrink Wrap Plastic

Biolefin is an eco friendly alternative to traditional shrink wrap. Its non-toxic formula makes it safe for people and pets alike. It degrades quickly in soil making it easy to remove after use. Plus, there’s no waste since it doesn’t require energy to manufacture.

There are several more alternatives available, but these five choices should get you started.

So, next time you are shopping for plastic wrap, think about these alternatives first.