Do bioplastics have a lower carbon footprint than fossil-based plastics? How is this measured?
Biobased plastics have the unique advantage over conventional plastics to reduce the dependency on limited fossil resources and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Plants sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) during their growth. Using these plants (renewable biomass) to produce biobased plastics removes CO2 from the atmosphere and keeps it stored throughout the entire product life. This carbon fixation (carbon sink) can be extended for even longer if the material is recycled.
Substituting the annual global demand for fossil-based polyethylene (PE) with biobased PE would safe more than 73 million tonnes of CO2. This equals the CO2 emissions of 20 million flights aground the world per year.
The carbon footprint of a product (CFP) can be measured by carbon footprinting or the life cycle assessment (LCA, standard ISO 14040 and ISO 14044). Information on how a carbon footprint should be established is set out in the ISO 14067 standard entitled the “Carbon Footprint of Products” published in 2013.