Chitosan – an alternative to plastic that could be used in large-scale manufacturing
On my recent holiday to the Yucatan in Mexico, I was saddened to see tons of plastic residue from packaging being washed up, tangled up in a tide of sargassum (dense algae), on the otherwise pristine beaches of the Costa Maya. This got me thinking about sustainability, ‘reverse supply chains and closed-loop systems’ and wondering how long it will take before better biodegradable materials are used for packaging.
So I was delighted to come across an article in the World Economic Forum Blog on the benefits of using chitosan – a bio plastic made from shrimp shells which breaks down in only a few weeks once discarded – as an alternative to plastic packaging. According to a study conducted by the University of the Basque Country, chitosan packaging can almost double the shelf life of carrots. The problem for the moment seems to be that chitosan is still more expensive than plastic wrappings.
However, since plastic pollution is a pressing problem, it will only be a matter of time (hopefully) for industry to push for the introduction of world-wide legislation, such as the ISO standards, in order to address this issue.
Furthermore, Harvard’s Wyss Institute Team are researching the use of chitosan in large-scale manufacturing and 3D printing of common objects. If the material starts to be widely used in manufacturing it will also become more affordable.
I for one look forward to the day when sustainability in plastic dependent supply chains is no longer a dream but an easily achievable reality.
Author- Blanca Suarez’s Bio
About the author
Blanca has recently been awarded a MSc in Supply Chain Management with first class honours by the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and is actively looking for challenging opportunities with innovative companies. Originally from Mexico City, she has lived and worked in Spain and Ireland for the last 20 years. Blanca is interested in sustainability, behavioural economics, food, travel & hospitality, retail, fashion, technology and social enterprises. Blanca is a regular contributor to the Alba Consulting blog on a range of topics relevant to supply chain management. Email: email@example.com LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/blancasuarez Twitter: https://twitter.com/bsbilbao