With the prospect of oil supplies eventually drying up, bioplastics offer a more sustainable future. But can they live up to the hype?
Concerns about future supplies of petrochemical raw materials and plastics disposal have sharpened the focus on renewable and biodegradable plastics. Many different types of bioplastics are produced today, but they are still on a journey to full sustainability. There are even claims that, in certain circumstances, traditional plastics could be environmentally preferable.
Production of bioplastics has the potential to generate less greenhouse gases and require less energy than traditional plastics, says industry association European Bioplastics. Harald Kab, chairman of the association, says bioplastics made from renewable resources have the advantage that they are compostable and, if incinerated, produce greener energy since the renewable carbon content of the raw materials is recycled back to carbon dioxide.