Today, there is a bioplastic alternative for almost every conventional plastic material and corresponding application. Bioplastics – plastics that are biobased, biodegradable, or both – have the same properties as conventional plastics and offer additional advantages. This includes a reduced carbon footprint or additional waste management options, such as composting. Bioplastics are an essential part of the bioeconomy and a fast-growing, innovative industry that has the potential to decouple economic growth from resource depletion and environmental impact. Bioplastics are a diverse family of materials with differing properties. There are three main groups:
Currently, bioplastics represent about one per cent of the about 368 million tonnes of plastic produced annually. But as demand is rising, and with more sophisticated materials, applications, and products emerging, the market is already growing very dynamically.
Bio-based or partially bio-based durable plastics, such as bio-based or partially bio-based PE, PP, PET or PVC, possess properties which are identical to their conventional versions. These bioplastics are technically equivalent to their fossil counterparts; yet, they help to reduce a product’s carbon footprint. Moreover, they can be mechanically recycled in existing recycling streams.
Find out more about bio-based plastics here.
Additionally, new materials, such as PLA, PHA, cellulose or starch-based materials offer solutions with completely new functionalities, such as compostability and in some cases optimised barrier properties. Find out more about biodegradable plastics here. Along with the growth in variety of bioplastic materials, properties, such as flexibility, durability, printability, transparency, barrier, heat resistance, gloss and many more have been significantly enhanced.