What differentiates bioplastics from conventional plastics?
The term bioplastics encompasses a whole family of materials which differ from conventional plastics insofar as that they are biobased, biodegradable, or both.
Biobased means that the material or product is (partly) derived from biomass (plants). Biomass used for bioplastics stems from e.g. corn, sugarcane, or cellulose.
The term biodegradable refers to a chemical process during which micro-organisms that are available in the environment convert materials into natural substances such as water, carbon dioxide and biomass (artificial additives are not needed!). The process of biodegradation depends on the surrounding environmental conditions (e.g. location or temperature), on the material itself, and on the application. Biodegradability is an inherent property of certain bioplastic materials that can benefit specific applications (e.g. biowaste bags or service ware).
Where to find bioplastics?
Bioplastics already play an important role in the fields of packaging, agriculture, gastronomy, consumer electronics and automotive to name a few.
In these market segments, bioplastic materials are used to manufacture products intended for short term use, such as mulch films or catering products, as well as durable applications, such as mobile phone covers or interior components for cars.
Why use bioplastics instead of plastics?
Bioplastics are driving the evolution of plastics. There are two major advantages of biobased plastic products compared to their conventional versions: they save fossil resources by using biomass which regenerates (annually) and providing the unique potential of carbon neutrality. Furthermore, biodegradability is an add-on property of certain types of bioplastics. It offers additional means of recovery at the end of a product’s life.