Im, Y.H. Kim, J.S. Yoon, and I.-J. Chin
Wiley-VCH, 2005, pp. 1-376
have been commercially produced for over sixty years now
and have replaced metals and ceramics in many applications
from everyday commodity products to advanced functional
materials, due to their easy processibility and low density.
Most people would agree that we live in an "Age of
Plastics". Packaging is one of the areas where plastics
are favorably used. In particular, as the geographical
separation between the producers and the consumers has
been widened, efficient packaging became essential to
retain the nutrients and freshness of produce and to reduce
the amount of preservatives used.
to what many people think, plastics are much more environmentally
benign than metals, glasses, or papers, according to the
Life Cycle Assessment evaluation. However, because plastics
do not degrade in nature within a reasonable time period,
they tend to cast a significant threat to the environment
when discarded after use. In order to protect the environment
from plastics waste, it is necessary to reduce the consumption
of disposable nondegradable products, such as plastics
packaging, as much as possible and to recycle plastics
waste. At the same time, it is crucial to substitute biodegradable
plastics for nondegradable plastics. Biodegradable plastics
are particularly important when the recycling of plastics
waste becomes impossible or very difficult; plastics waste
may be scattered about so as to deter economical recovery,
they may be heavily tarnished, or their properties may
be too deteriorated to be reused.
is an ever-increasing demand for manufacturing plastics
out of sustainable resources, because raw materials derived
from fossil fuels are rather limited. Bio-based polymers
can make excellent candidates for such materials, and
they can contribute to the well-being of humankind by
preserving the earth from nondegraded plastics waste.
In this regard, it was timely and meaningful that the
8th World Conference on Biodegradable Polymers and Plastics
(BDPP8) was held to discuss current issues and the most
recent advances in biodegradable and bio-based polymers
and plastics. The conference series began in 1991 as the
International Scientific Consensus Workshop on Degradable
Materials, and thereafter has been held almost every two
years. In the BDPP8 an emphasis was placed on the industrial
aspects of biodegradable plastics, and representatives
of the major producers of biodegradable plastics were
invited to present their most recent development activities.
Government policies and regulatory issues of several countries
were also addressed. The list of participants shows a
broad spectrum in terms of countries represented, areas
of interest, and types of organizations.
volume contains selected papers on six different topics,
namely, microbial poly(hydroxy alkanoate)s, poly(lactic
acid)s, biodegradable polyesters and polyurethanes, hydrogels
and biomedical applications, blends and processing, and
microbial degradation. We thank the authors and referees
for their contribution. We are also very grateful for
the sponsorship of the International Union of Pure and
Applied Chemistry, the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation,
the Biodegradable Plastics Society, Japan, the Korean
Biodegradable Plastics Association, and Hanyang University.
The financial support of Daesang Corp., Ire Chemical,
Ltd., SK Chemicals, Jin Woong Chemicals Co., Ltd., Toray
Saehan, Inc., and Yuhan-Kimberly, Ltd. is much appreciated.
Y. H. Kim,
J. S. Yoon,