Cover image for Green plastics : an introduction to the new science of biodegradable plastics
Green plastics : an introduction to the new science of biodegradable plastics
Stevens, E. S. (Eugene S.), 1938-
Publication Information:
Princeton : Princeton University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
ix, 238 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
pt. 1. Plastics -- ch. 1. The age of plastics -- ch. 2. Plastics as materials -- ch. 3. Plastics and the environment -- ch. 4. The chemical nature of plastics -- ch. 5. Plastics degradation -- pt. 2. Bioplastics -- ch. 6. Biopolymers -- ch. 7. The reemergence of bioplastics -- ch. 8. Factors affecting growth -- ch. 9. Prospects for the future.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TP1180.B55 S74 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Plastics are everywhere. Bags, bank cards, bottles, and even boats can all be made of this celebrated but much-maligned material. Yet most of us know next to nothing about plastics. We do know that they are practical and cheap--but they also represent a huge environmental problem, for they literally take ages to decompose. In this engaging book, E.S. Stevens tells us everything we have always wondered about plastics and of the efforts, in America, Europe, and Asia, to develop a new breed of environmentally friendly plastics. He points to a possible future where plastics will no longer be made of petroleum, but of plants.

The first two chapters assess the increased use of plastics as a relatively new alternative to other materials. The third chapter introduces us to their impact on the environment and strategies for their disposal or recycling. The next two chapters cover basic concepts and terms used in polymer sciences and provide some basic chemistry. With these fundamentals in tow, the author compares how petroleum-based and biological polymers are made, and the various ways in which they decompose. He acquaints readers with the emerging technologies, their commercial viability, and their future. Finally, instructions are given for preparing basic bioplastics using readily available materials.

Nonspecialists will find Green Plastics a concise introduction to this exciting interdisciplinary topic--an introduction otherwise not available. For students it provides easy entry to an area of science with wide appeal and current importance; for teachers, excellent background reading for courses in various sciences. The prospect of depleted fossil fuel supplies, and the potential benefits of bioplastics to the environment and to rural areas that could supply the raw materials, make this book a compelling presentation of a subject whose time has come.

Author Notes

E. S. Stevens is Professor of Chemistry at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He has conducted research on biopolymers for more than thirty years and has published more than one hundred papers dealing with the conformational behavior of biomolecules, a topic he has explored through chiroptic methods

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Green Plastics: An Introduction to the New Science of Biodegradable Plastics is just that, a very nice introduction to the field of biodegradable polymers. Stevens (SUNY at Binghamton) has written a very readable book divided into two main parts. The first part introduces plastics, i.e., polymers; these materials are discussed with respect to their chemical make-up, their use in society, their degradation properties, and how that plays a role in plastics' effects on the environment. The second part focuses on what are now being called "bioplastics." Stevens defines bioplastics as "biodegradable plastics whose components are derived entirely or almost entirely from renewable raw materials." He examines bioplastics found in history and their reappearance in today's world, along with the future prospects and the factors affecting the materials' growth. The book ends with several very useful appendixes; a glossary of terms commonly found in the plastics industry; a list of books for suggested reading; and an entire section of directions on how to "make your own" bioplastics. Recommended for general readers, lower-division undergraduates, and two-year technical program students. J. R. Sasthav formerly, Howard Community College

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Part 1 Plastics
Chapter 1 The Age of Plasticsp. 3
The New Kids on the Block
How Do We Use All That Plastic?
Chapter 2 Plastics as Materialsp. 10
Materials Science
Composites and Laminates
The Distinction of Plastics as a Material
Materials and the Ecosystem
Chapter 3 Plastics and the Environmentp. 15
Raw Materials
Plastics Waste
Managing Plastics Waste
Environment Friendly Plastics?
Chapter 4 The Chemical Nature of Plasticsp. 31
Common Thermoplastics
Common Thermosets
Biodegradable Synthetics
Fibers and Elastomers
Chapter 5 Plastics Degradationp. 52
Plastics after Use--An Introduction
Thermodynamics and Kinetics
Biodegradation--Nature's Recycling
Degradation of Plastics
Tests and Standards
Part 2 Bioplastics
Chapter 6 Biopolymersp. 83
Nature's Polymers
Synthetic "Biopolymers,"
Nature's Fibers
Nature's Composites
Chapter 7 The Reemergence of Bioplasticsp. 104
What Are Bioplastics?
Early Bioplastics
The New Bioplastics
Chapter 8 Factors Affecting Growthp. 135
Biomass Raw Materials
Benign Technology
Biodegradable Products
Chapter 9 Prospects for the Futurep. 145
Raw Materials
Technological Advances
Environmental Concern
The Role of Government
The Role of the Private Sector
Paradigm Shift
Appendix Make Your Ownp. 165
Preparation of Cast-Film Bioplastics
Varying the Recipes
"1-2-3 Plastic,"
Other Possibilities
Standard Tests
Designing Science Projects
Notesp. 187
Glossaryp. 207
Reading Listp. 221
Author/Name Indexp. 223
Subject Indexp. 231