What are the advantages of bioplastic products?
Biobased plastics help reduce the dependency on limited fossil resources, which are expected to become significantly more expensive in the coming decades. Slowly depleted fossil resources are being gradually substituted with renewable resources. These renewable resources are currently predominantly annual crops (such as corn and sugar beet) or perennial cultures (such as cassava and sugar cane).
Biobased plastics also possess the unique potential to reduce Green House Gas (GHG) emissions or even be carbon neutral. Plants absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide as they grow. Using this biomass to create biobased plastic products constitutes a temporary removal of greenhouse gases (CO2) from the atmosphere. This carbon fixation can be extended for a period of time if the material is recycled.
Another major benefit offered by biobased plastics is that they can ‘close the cycle’ and increase resource efficiency. This potential can be exploited most effectively by establishing ‘use cascades’, in which renewable resources are firstly used to produce materials and products prior to being used for energy recovery. This means either:
- using renewable resources for bioplastic products, mechanically recycling these products several times and recovering their renewable energy at the end of their product life or
- using renewable resources for bioplastic products, organically recycling them (composting) at the end of a product’s life cycle (if certified accordingly) and creating valuable biomass/humus during the process. This resulting new product facilitates plant growth thus closing the cycle.
Bioplastics production capacities to grow by more than 400% by 2018
Bio-based, non-biodegradable plastics, such as bio-based PE and bio-based PET, are said to be gaining the most, driven by the growth of polylactic acid (PLA).
Furthermore, renewable and compostable plastics produced locally are likely to benefit from government directives on the reduction of shopping bags. Flexible and rigid packaging remains by far the leading application field for bioplastics
(Source: Sustainability Matters)