Bio-based plastics can be mechanically recycled just like conventional plastics and biodegradable plastics are not a solution to the plastic soup in the oceans. These are two key findings in the report ‘Biobased and biodegradable plastics – Facts and Figures’, released by Wageningen Food & Biobased Research. The report takes stock of scientific knowledge on bio-based and biodegradable plastics, and focuses on the plastics used in the packaging industry.

“Our report shows that the production of many biobased plastics does result in less net greenhouse gas emissions than traditional plastic.”

Christiaan Bolck, programme manager for materials at WFBR

There are many misunderstandings about biodegradable and bio-based plastics, some of them quite persistent. As this makes the choice to switch to these materials difficult for companies, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research was commissioned by the Dutch government to carry out an inventory of the current scientific research into these plastics. “Companies and interest groups can state anything,” points out Christiaan Bolck, programme manager for materials at Wageningen Food & Biobased Research. “This report is intended for those who wish to learn the facts. And it shows that the story is often more nuanced than it seems.”

The report also records facts relevant to current debates about plastic packaging waste. For instance, it has been shown that most of the bio-based and biodegradable plastics currently on the market can be mechanically recycled just as easily as ordinary types of plastic.

The full report can be downloaded for free here.

customer in supermarket