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Plantic® is a type of biodegradable plastic produced by the Plantic Company, which is based in Australia. It is derived from starches found in corn, rather than petrochemicals, making it sustainable and very environmentally friendly. Plantic® is only one among a wide family of plastics created with plant starch. These products are designed to break down quickly and naturally, ensuring that their component starches return to the earth, rather than remaining in landfills.
The base of Plantic® is high amylose corn starch. This starch can be used to create Plantic® in a variety of colors and thicknesses, depending on the need. All of these products will break down when composted, typically within around three months. The organization also points out that Plantic® can be made with organic corn, for consumers who want to adhere to organic standards. Technically, Plantic® could even potentially be eaten, although this is not recommended.
The primary disadvantage of early forms of Plantic® was that it was a bit too biodegradable. The product broke down when used with wet food products, for example, and it would melt away in warm or hot water. However, the company used feedback from consumers to develop more rugged versions of the product, which can be used for a wide variety of applications.
One of the Plantic Company's specialties is trays used in the packaging of foods like fine chocolates. A Plantic® tray can keep food dry and isolate pieces of candy from each other so that they do not melt together during transit while also protecting the food in the event that the package is crushed or knocked about. The company also sells sheets of Plantic® which can be melted down for the purpose of injection molding, for companies which want to form their own Plantic® containers and products.
The use of materials like Plantic® began gaining popularity in the early 21st century, as consumers grew more aware of problems with petrochemicals. In addition to being potentially polluting and nonrenewable, petrochemical prices tend to fluctuate, altering the prices of products like plastic which are derived from them. Petrochemicals are also very slow to break down, raising concerns about landfills which store such plastics for millions of years, and they are found in abundance in the world's oceans, raising concerns about the welfare of marine life around the world.