Are empty milk cans biodegradable? ( 5 materials used to make milk cans.)

This blog shall address the question of whether the empty milk can is biodegradable.

In addition, other topics shall be covered. The topics include:

  • The types of milk cans used.
  • Pros and cons of each type of can material.
  • Biodegradability of milk can materials.
  • Eco-friendliness and toxicity of different can materials.

Are empty milk cans biodegradable?

No, milk cans are not biodegradable. Milk cans are made from different materials which range from steel to plastics and glasses.

Different homes, shops, and industries use different types of milk cans based on their preferences on durability, safety, ease of transport, and cost.

What materials are milk cans made of?

Milk cans are made of different materials.

Different materials have different properties and levels of eco-friendliness based on their biodegradability.

Milk cans are made from different materials but the most common ones are:

  • Stainless steel.
  • Aluminum.
  • Plastics.
  • Glass.

Stainless steel.

This is a ferrous alloy that contains 11% chromium elements.

The main material in steel is iron.

Chromium prevents the steel from rusting and corrosion by forming a film around it.

It also provides the steel with heat resistance property.

The ability of steel to resist corrosion can be improved by:

  • Increasing chromium capacity in the steel alloy to more than 11%.
  • Adding more than 10% nickel element.
  • Adding molybdenum elements to the alloy.
  • Adding nitrogen elements to the alloy.

Properties of stainless steel.

Steel contains the following properties which make it an ideal material for different equipment.

  • Requires low maintenance.
  • It is resistant to corrosion.
  • It is resistant to heat.
  • It is magnetic.
  • It is a poor conductor of electricity.
  • It melts at high temperatures.
  • It is ductile and malleable; it can be rolled into sheets, plates, wires, or tubes.

Uses of stainless steel.

Stainless steel has a wide range of uses which include the following:

  • Making cooking appliances.
  • Making cutlery.
  • Making surgical equipment.
  • Making vehicle parts.
  • Making construction equipment such as sheets and pipes.
  • Making storage tanks.
  • Making jerry cans and containers.

Aluminum.

Aluminum is a chemical element found in group 13A of the periodic table.

It is the most abundant metallic element in the Earth’s crust.

It doesn’t occur as a free element but rather in compounds of aluminum silicates.

Properties of aluminum.

Aluminum contains the following properties.

  • It is ductile and malleable, that is, it can be rolled into a wire or sheets.
  • It is resistant to corrosion.
  • It is a good conductor of heat and electricity.

Uses of aluminum.

Aluminum is one of the most used elements.

It is mixed with other elements such as silicon and magnesium and used in the following ways.

  • In making parts of aircraft.
  • Used in making cooking utensils.
  • Used in making electrical conductors.
  • Used in making food processing equipment.
  • Used in making refrigerators.
  • Used in making air conditioning appliances.
  • Used in making milk cans, Jerry cans, and bottles 

Plastic cans.

Plastics are the most used substances in our day-to-day lives.

The impact of plastic in our daily lives can not be overstated.

There is a wide range of plastics, each with different properties and uses.

The most commonly used plastics in making milk cans and bottles are: 

  • Polyethylene terephthalate is also known as polyester or PET.
  • Polystyrene.
  • Polypropylene is also called polypropene.
  • High-density polyethylene (HDPE).

Polyethylene terephthalate (polyester).

Polyester is a polymer of ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid 

It is one of the most used plastic polymers in industries and homes.

Properties of polyethylene terephthalate.

The properties of polyethylene terephthalate include the following:

  • It is inert.
  • It is a strong and highly durable material.
  • It is resistant to microbial degradation.
  • It is lightweight and therefore easy to carry.
  • It is fully recyclable.
Uses of polyethylene terephthalate.

The uses include the following:

  • Used to make cans for carrying beverages, water, cooking oil, and milk.
  • Used to make air filters.
  • Used to make carpets and ropes.
  • Used to make fishing nets.
  • Used to make pianos.
  • Used to make liquid crystal displays.
  • Used to make phone cases.
  • Mixed with natural fiber to make fabrics.

Polystyrene.

This is a polymer of styrene hydrocarbon.

It is obtained from crude oil and natural gas.

It can be found as a solid or foam.

Its foam state is called styrofoam.

Properties of polystyrene.

The properties of polystyrene include the following:

  • It is chemically inert.
  • It is resistant to corrosion.
  • It is waterproof.
  • It is non-biodegradable.
  • It is naturally transparent.
  • It is resistant to microbial degradation.
Uses of polystyrene.

The uses of polystyrene include the following:

  • It is used in making food storage such as milk and beverages.
  • It is used to make trays and disposable cups and bowls.
  • It is used to make egg cartons.

Polypropylene (polypropene).

Polypropylene is also called polypropene.

It is a rigid, semi-crystalline thermoplastic polymer of propene hydrocarbon.

It has almost the same properties and appearance as polyester.

Properties of polypropylene.

Polypropylene contains the following properties.

  • It is semi-crystalline.
  • It is slightly harder than polyester.
  • It has more tensile strength than polyester.
  • It has high chemical resistance.
  • It is heat resistant.
  • It is resistant to microbial degradation.
Uses of polypropylene.

The following are the uses of polypropylene.

  • Used to make plastic bottles and cans.
  • Used to make plastic chairs.
  • Used to make plastic tubs for dairy products.
  • Used in making laboratory plastic equipment.
  • It is used in place of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) as an insulator for electrical appliances.

High-density polyethylene (HDPE).

High-density polyethylene is a thermoplastic polymer of ethylene.

It is the most used plastic material both at home and in industries.

Properties of high-density polyethylene.

The following are the properties of high-density polyethylene:

  • It is resistant to corrosion.
  • It has a high strength-to-density ratio.
  • It has high tensile strength.
  • It can withstand high temperatures.
  • It is resistant to chemicals.
  • It is inert.
  • It is resistant to microbial degradation
Uses of high-density polyethylene.

High-density polyethylene is used in the following ways:

  • Used to make ropes.
  • Used to make high-density polyethylene pipes.
  • Used to make plastic chairs.
  • Used to make bottle crates.
  • Used to make toys.
  • Used to make plastic bottles and Jerry cans.
  • Used to make milk jugs and cans.
  • Used to make shampoo bottles.

Glass.

Glass is a non-crystalline solid.

It can be found in natural form from volcanic rocks such as obsidian or can be synthesized from elements such as silicates by heating and rapid cooling.

Properties of glass.

The following are the properties of glass:

  • It is brittle.
  • It has a high ability to reflect and refract light.
  • It has a high refractive index.
  • It can be molded into different shapes like sheets and cups.
  • It is inert.
  • It has high resistance to chemicals.
  • It is a poor conductor of heat and electricity.
  • It is non-biodegradable.

Uses of glass.

The following are uses of glass:

  • It is used as a glazing material for windows.
  • It is used to make glass tableware such as wine glasses, jugs, plates, and bowls.
  • It is used to make laboratory equipment.
  • It is used to make optic glasses.

Why are empty milk cans non-biodegradable?

As mentioned earlier, milk cans are made from different materials which have been covered in the previous sub-topic.

The materials range from glasses, plastics, aluminum, and glasses.

All these materials are resistant to microbial degradation. 

Biodegradation is the natural breakdown of organic matter with the help of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi.

Since the materials used in making milk cans are resistant to microbial degradation, it means that they are resistant to biodegradation.

Are milk cans recyclable?

Yes, according to an article, all milk cans are recyclable.

Since the materials used to make cans are non-biodegradable, milk cans should be recycled and reused to prevent environmental pollution.

Are empty milk cans eco-friendly?

No, empty milk cans are not eco-friendly.

Most of them are made from plastics which emit toxic gases which pollute the environment.

Conclusion.

This blog post has answered the question, ” Is empty milk-can biodegradable?”

Other areas covered include:

  • Types of materials used to make milk cans.
  • The eco-friendliness of materials used to make milk cans.

Was this blog enjoyable to read? You can leave your comments and suggestions in the space below.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs): Are empty milk cans biodegradable?

Is empty milk cans biodegradable?

No, empty milk cans are not biodegradable because they are made from materials that are resistant to microbial degradation.

How do you dispose of empty milk boxes?

Milk cans should be recycled.

Since most milk cans are made of non-biodegradable materials, they can not be discarded in pits.

They also can’t be burnt since they produce toxic fumes which affect both plants and animals.

The best way to dispose of them is by recycling.

Are plastic milk containers safe?

Yes, plastic milk containers are safe to use since they are inert and do not react with milk nutrients.

However, on disposal, they should be recycled to avoid polluting the environment since they are non-biodegradable.

Citations.

Peckner, Donald; Bernstein, I.M. (1977). Handbook of Stainless Steels. McGraw Hill. ISBN 9780070491472.

Anderson, P.W. (1995). “Through the Glass Lightly”. Science. 267 (5204): 1615–16. doi:10.1126/science.267.5204.1615-e.

Jessica Keynes. (05 January 2019). The Life Of A Plastic Milk Bottle.

Retrieved from:

https://www.biffa.co.uk/biffablog/2019/june/the-life-of-a-plastic-milk-bottle

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