Bioplastics Man from seedmagazine.com by Justin Schwartz

| 8 Comments

            The article that I read, Bioplastics Man by Maywa Montenegro on www.seedmagazine.com, ties right in with what we have been talking about all semester and what we are talking about currently. Bioplastics Man dives in to the world of bio plastics and what is happening in the current industry. Oliver Peoples has developed a new bio plastic which he has named Mirel.

 

            Mirel is produced from corn, much like other bio plastics, but is leaps a head of all the competition. Current bio plastics do seek to create a cleaner environment, but are only good for certain purposes and can not be used along side water or liquid such as hot coffee. Mirel is the offspring of years of research and development which allows it to live along side liquids. Peoples goes on to explain that Mirel is able to hold things such as shampoo for up to five years because it needs the microbes that are in soil, fresh water, and salt water to break it down. This means no more hot coffee and bio plastics cups melting on your lap while on your way to work.

 

            The process according to Peoples takes the sugar from corn or ethanol. It is then put through a process much like a brewing process which hardens the sugars. Once the hardening has occurred it is then strained out in to the product known as Mirel.

 

            Mirel, the "wonder plastic of the near future," promises to be the technological fix. Peoples realizes that initial costs will be high, but just as any other new industry, the costs will decrease and inevitably decrease our footprint on the earth. Sea life would no longer choke or die from our plastics, our land fills will no longer be stacked high with unused plastics, and we will still retain our love for plastics through Mirel the new bio plastic.

 

            Currently under construction, and in the finishing stages, is the first Mirel plant which is located in Clinton, Iowa. The Clinton plant will almost be a self contained plant. It is located in the heart of the Corn Belt which means long shipping to plant will not be needed, the wet mill is located on site, and all the energy it needs to start and continue to run.  The plant will be producing the first 50000 tons of Mirel soon after the finishing according Peoples.

 

            Mirel seems to be a promising fix for our current bio plastics which waste away in liquid and will take the place of the environmentally hazardous hard plastic. It is no question that we a people do need a fix. We cannot continue mass produce hard plastics that do not break down in the environment. Peoples has been developing for years now at his Cambridge laboratory and believes whole heartedly he has found the answer and I can't wait for him to be proven right.

8 Comments

I agree, Mirel is a perfect example of a “technological fix” – it is supposedly environment friendly and has a higher melting point. To tell you the truth, I had never heard of bioplastics before I read this blog. I think it’s pretty cool that we are now able to produce alternative products with improved characteristics.

-Lilian

It seems like a great idea. We need plastics that are environmentally friendly and degrade in soil or the ocean. Currently, the plastic we use just causes more and more pollution in the environment and kills wildlife. It would be a great technological fix and a great to decrease pollution in the environment. I'm sure the wildife would greatly appreciate it.

It is great that they are able to develop this kind of technology. The trick is getting people to use it. If people just buy the bad plastics instead, then having invented Mirel has accomplished nothing. Perhaps this is where the government should intervene and mandate the use of these more environmentally friendly synthetics.

this sounds cool but at the same time, a fix is still a fix. do we really want to have these products we can literally just toss to the fishes? even if the bottle itself won't contaminate the water, the chemicals in the shampoo (or whatever the bottle held) could be a contaminant.

I think we do too many things willy nilly without actually considering the costs of our actions. we have to be more careful.

Bioplastic sounds like a great product. Especially because we depend on plastic so much, we need to be concern with its effects in the environment and our health. Should we worry about the chemicals run-off from the agriculture industry to produce large corn production for food and now plastics? Who will use this in terms of socioeconomic? In addition, how long will it take for microbes to break down Mirel and will we have enough land specifically for this?

Although I think this is a very interesting technology, I see a major flaw in its production- corn. Isn't it a little worrisome to have one more product made of corn? This may be an environmentally friendly product but at what price? Corn production, with the introduction of high fructose corn syrup and, more recently, ethanol, has been steadily increasing to meet demands. If ethanol is our solution to the oil crisis, then why would we introduce one more corn product? If there is more demand for corn then the price goes up which will be reflected in the price of ethanol. Although I think it is necessary to produce an environmentally friendly plastic, I think we need to look at different ingredients than the one we rely on so much already.

This is really interesting having a plastic that is made from something as simple as sugar. The future is most likely going to have a lot of these products that are bio degradeable and made of products that make a lot of other things such as corn. Since there is an abundant resource of the materials this could be the future of our plastics. The process also sounds like it is a lot less harmful to the environment than current plastic making which involves many chemicals and toxins.

I think Mirel sounds like a good solution for our environment. A large problem affecting our environment is pollution and littering. I think that having a product that is biodegradable and will cause less harm on our environment will create a positive solution to the negative outcomes that have already occurred.

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This page contains a single entry by schwa704 published on December 7, 2009 8:03 PM.

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