Introduction to Bioplastics – Renewable Resource Based Biodegradable Plastics

Bioplastics are a class of polymeric compounds that are biodegradable or compostable. Bioplastics are usually derived from renewable resources including plants, animals and bacteria.  The newly emerging principles — sustainability, industrial ecology, ecoeffeciency and green chemistry — has given impetus for next generation bioplastics that could compete with traditional petroleum based plastics.  They can be produced by chemical, biological or physical modifications of exclusively biobased materials or by combining with other materials.

Bioplastics are generally biodegradable or compostable, and therefore, make a suitable candidate for single use articles including disposable cutlery, packaging materials and consumer articles


Benefits of Bioplastics

There are many benefits of bioplastics compared to conventional petroleum based polymers including sustainability, eco friendly, environmental responsibly and green chemistry.  Bioplastics are considered as one of the main response to the developing issue of plastic waste management.

Categories of Bioplastics: 

As shown below, there are many ways to produce biopolymers. One way of producing bioplastics is to get the precursor from annually renewable agricultural resources, and modify them chemically or biologically to get the desired biomonomer.

Bioplastic synthesis:

For example, renewable material such as corn starch, tapioca, wheat and potatoes etc can be converted to biomonomers though hydrolysis or fermentation routes. Mostly used biomonomers include lactic acid (and lactide, the dimer of lactic acid) for the synthesis of polylactic acid (or polylactide), and  succinic acid, adipic acid and 1,3 propane diol for the synthesis of polyesters.

Sources of bioplastics

Producing bioplastic composites are best way to achieve tougher materials that would suit applications like reported here.  It’s great to see more and more eco-friendly products are coming to the market.

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