Dr. Chris Kozak - October 31
Biodegradable Plastics from Renewable Starting Materials
Plastics have become one of the most common materials for manufacturing in our society. Their versatility is well known and it would be difficult to imagine life in the modern world without plastic-containing products. However, among the incredibly useful properties of plastics, such as moldability, tunable strength, density, colour, and light weight, many plastics carry with them severe problems. Their stability and persistence in the environment is of prime concern. They are also made from non-renewable, sometimes toxic starting materials. There is a growing need and desire to find alternatives that come from renewable feedstocks, which are biodegradable and non-toxic, and possess the same utility as the typical plastics in use today. As a result of this need and desire by society and consumers for products that fulfill these requirements, there has spawned much misinformation and outright falsehoods about “biodegradable” plastics touted by various manufacturers. Nonetheless, the need for new materials that are environmentally sustainable and non-toxic is very real and research towards developing suitable replacements for non-degradable polymers is globally important. This presentation will describe some hopeful success stories in the quest for biodegradable plastics, in particular some work being conducted in the MUN Green Chemistry and Catalysis Group.