Natural oil for plastic revolution

Oil from the castor bean is commonly used in medicine, food, hygiene and heavy industries. It can now also be used to create a more sustainable and healthier type of plastic.

This is a development which could shake up the plastics industry, and flooring in particular. PVC is a used in floor production around the world. In powdered form, PVC is added to harmful phthalates to create a paste, which is layered to produced floors with a distinctive clear protective layer.

Castor oil can replace the phthalates. The result is a flexible flooring that is just as durable and stylish as standard PVC flooring. It is also more environmentally friendly, as it is produced from the castor beans, rather than from fossil fuels, and it also biodegrades more easily. At the end of their life-cycle, PVC plastics are burned, releasing harmful chlorine, or dumped; not a sustainable solution. Castor-based flooring is proving popular, all the more because it is far less damaging to the environment when recycled.

Castor beans grow widely. However, they can’t be used for food, as they are poisonous. Other uses for castor oil includes in healing salves, due to its fatty acids, and as lubrication, as it has good viscosity and won’t freeze.

Various large flooring companies are now producing castor-based floors. So this super-oil is finding new uses in materials’ production. However, a word to the wise: most of its by-products are lethal to humans. A trend to watch, but tread carefully.


Images via creative commons.