Bioplastics are a diverse family of materials with differing properties. There are three main groups:
- Bio-based (or partially bio-based), durable plastics such as bio-based polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET) (so-called drop-in solutions), bio-based technical performance polymers, such as numerous polyamides (PA), or (partly) bio-based polyurethanes (PUR);
- Bio-based and biodegradable, compostable plastics, such as polylactic acid (PLA), polyhydroxyalkanaoates (PHA), polybutylene succinate (PBS), and starch blends;
- Plastics that are based on fossil resources and are biodegradable, such as PBAT and PCL, but that may well be produced at least partly bio-based in the future.
Bio-based, durable plastics, such as bio-based PE or bio-based PET, possess properties that are identical to their conventional versions. These bioplastics are technically equivalent to their fossil counterparts; yet, they can help to reduce a product’s carbon footprint. Moreover, they can be mechanically recycled in the according existing recycling streams.
Innovative materials such as PLA, PHA, or starch-based materials offer solutions with completely new functionalities such as biodegradability and compostability and in some cases optimised barrier properties.
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.