Researchers have developed a technique to convert bioplastics into fertilizers, solving both problems of plastic waste and emission intensive fertilizer’s production. These plastics are produced from sources such as wheat, corn, or agricultural waste. Yet, they are usually difficult to break down because the production process makes them highly durable, just like common plastics.
The research is focused on a bioplastic called polyi-sorbide carbonate that, when reacting with ammonia, produces nitrogen-rich urea, the basis for making fertilizers. Normally this production must be done at high temperatures and pressures, generating 2% of global emissions annually as well. Also, the other new process does not emit carbon dioxide compared to the conventional method. Researchers hope to put more pressure on industries to transition from petroleum-based plastics to bioplastics derived from renewable sources.
This new form of production employs biomimicry through various principles of nature such as efficient use of resources, use of low energy processes and recycling of materials, among others.