The cardboard biodesign, which was launched last year in India, is the first biosecurity box that can be made biodegrably, a key element for the development of the countrys largest bioremediation project, the world’s largest plastic biorefinery.
“The world needs to build a bioregeneration infrastructure and this is the future of the world,” said Arun Sankar, co-founder and CEO of the Biodegradability Lab at Harvard University.
“I think this is an opportunity to take our efforts to a whole new level.”
Biodegradeability has become an urgent need across the world as more and more plastic is used in everyday products such as bags and packaging.
There is a growing demand for biodegrades as plastic is increasingly found in packaging and other household items.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDN) says the amount of plastic used worldwide is estimated to be 2,000 trillion tonnes of plastic.
But this has been hampered by the fact that biodegradation is often slow and costly.
A recent study by the University of Maryland found that, even though plastic is recycled and reused, the cost of cleaning up and disposing of plastic waste is estimated at $20 billion a year.
But with the biodegrading of cardboard and other materials, this cost is now expected to drop to $3 billion a week.
To get to the $3 trillion figure, SDN has created a prototype cardboard bioreactor.
The prototype was built by the company PTC Technologies, which works with major packaging companies including Walmart, Coca-Cola, Target and others.
The cardboard is made from recycled polystyrene, which has been made from biodegraded cardboard before, and the bioreaction process is controlled by the microchip that has been embedded in the cardboard.
“We think we can get it to the scale to make it a viable material that can potentially be used in the plastic biodegration process,” said Sankhar.
In the future, he said, the cardboard will be made from materials that are more biodeusable, such as plastic-coated glass, polycarbonate, polypropylene and polyethylene, which have been shown to be biodeagable and can be bioreacted.
Sankkar said the cardboard bioretainer has already been tested on a variety of materials, and was able to achieve high biodeformation levels.
The company is now working on a similar bioregenerator in India and is planning to test it on polyethylenes.
A new prototype is expected to be ready for use in India by early next year, and a full-scale biorecycle will be able to take place in 2019, he added.
The first commercial-scale cardboard bioresigns are expected to hit the market by the end of 2020.