Bioplastics operate at the forefront of modern green business, but the security systems put in place to protect businesses in the industry are often at odds with the inherent environmental advocacy of degradable plastics.
According to a study published by the UK’s University of Surrey, burglar alarms and CCTV often have a surprisingly high carbon footprint, owing to the fact that businesses often prefer to use cheaper, carbon-based fuel to operate them. For a company to be considered truly green and have a vested interest in being environmentally friendly, their operations must work together and be green on all fronts; including security within bioplastics.
Integrated security and electricity consumption
As with all things, new technology is providing options for addressing and tackling the sustainability question. The bulk of the issue with monitoring and prevention security in tech is that it always remains ‘on’, requiring constant power and creating emissions in the meantime. Managed security services have done much to tackle this by removing that need for constant electrical power, and improving assurance by moving the work back on to active human participation. By having smart systems that are managed proactively, rather than a constant feed, security can be completed in a smart and effective manner that saves resources. Bioplastics has a key role to play in this, too, and as managed security provides a green solution to monitoring, bioplastics will provide new technology to improve the situation wholesale. In April 2019, the WE Forum blog reported on new microbial-based bioplastics that are produced simply from ‘feeding’ electricity to microbes. An effective use for energy differentials produced by changing security services, this could see the electricity and plastic needed for business monitoring being produced with ease and in an environmentally friendly manner.
Bioplastics News reported in July 2019 that food giants Nestlé, who are also one of the biggest consumers of plastic packaging in the world, had developed bioplastic based security tags to replace the non-degradable versions currently used in their supply chain.
These tags, which are used on consignments and in warehousing to provide assurance as to the quality and safety of a product, number in their millions. This new plastic has created a tag that is strong enough to show when tampering has taken place, but when removed, is easily broken down and therefore does not contribute to plastic buildup. This has the twofold effect of maintaining security assurance – chiefly in the respect that products have not been tampered with – while simultaneously not creating more plastic waste for a product that is, by definition, completely disposable. When single use is not an option, biodegradable products are a must.
Using bioplastics to enhance security
Just as green systems can and should be used to improve the security systems of today, there are technological developments that will give security industry professionals food for thought. Of note is spider silk enhanced wood, which The Engineer have highlighted as a new form of bioplastic. An alternative to the steel and iron production industry, which remains hugely polluting (Bellona.org estimate that 1.9 tonnes of CO2 is produced for every tonne of steel), this product will allow businesses to create secure environments in a way that advocates for a better environment. Ultimately, businesses must adapt to create business plans that are green-first and don’t neglect any area where they could make improvements; starting with the very foundations of the business, its materials, is a great place to begin.
Bioplastics is a growing sector that has its own security questions. While making efforts to improve the current climate and pollution through removing plastics from production and use is a great step to take, it is only one step of the process – businesses must act in a holistic manner. Through new plastic technologies, businesses are finding ways to create assurance over their security situation without creating new problems.
Bioplastics MAGAZINE, 2019-11-01.
University of Surrey