Bioplastics Glossary

This glossary aspires to support a common understanding of relevant terms of the bioplastics industry and market. The definitions will be regularly updated depending on new developments in e.g. standardisation and EU legislation.

If you have questions regarding any of the terms defined, please contact us and share your feedback with us at press(at)european–bioplastics.org

Plants that are rich on carbohydrates, such as corn or sugar cane, can be used as food as well as animal feed and are known as “food crops” or so-called 1st generation feedstock. The source of carbon for producing bioplastics is the sugar, lipid or starch directly extracted from a plant. First generation feedstock has been cultivated over centuries with regard to reducing their land use, increasing their yields and resistance to pests. It is currently also the most efficient feedstock for the production of bioplastics.

2nd generation feedstock refers to feedstock not suitable for food or feed production. It can be either non-food crops (e.g. cellulose) or waste materials from 1st generation feedstock (e.g. waste vegetable oil).

The term 3rd generation feedstock refers to biomass derived from algae, which has a higher growth yield than either 1st and 2nd generation feedstock, and therefore has been allocated their own category.

Aerobic means ”in the presence of oxygen”. Composting, an aerobic process, involves microorganisms accessing the oxygen present in the surround- ing atmosphere and breaking down the organic material into energy, CO2, water, and biomass, whereby a part of the energy of the organic material is released as heat. (See also > Composting)