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#SolutionMonday: 5 biodegradable bioplastics manufacturers should consider

bioplastics - climateaction

#SolutionMonday: 5 biodegradable bioplastics manufacturers should consider

Hello readers. Welcome to #SolutionMonday on CleanbuildVoices!

In recent times, several companies have been generating new alternatives to traditional plastic that are safer to dispose of, manufactured with energy-efficient practices, and have a low rate of toxic emissions.

This has led to the development of biodegradable bioplastics in a bid to create more eco-conscious plastics.

Bioplastics are plastics derived from renewable feedstocks, such as starch, cellulose, vegetable oils, and vegetable fats.

They may or may not be biodegradable and some of them are partially biobased (they contain both renewable and fossil-fuel-based carbon)

In this article, we will be taking a look at 5 bioplastics that manufacturers can opt for in their production if they aim to go green.

Biodegradable Bioplastics

Bioplastics act as sustainable alternatives to plastics that utilize renewable biomass sources such as agricultural and food waste or used plastics. However, not all bioplastics are biodegradable.

Instead, they persist as long as traditional plastics are in the environment, hurting marine life in the process. This is why materials startups develop a range of biodegradable polymers as alternatives to plastics.

Food waste Bioplastics

Food waste often ends up in landfills where it contributes to methane emissions. Utilizing it for the production of bioplastics mitigates these problems as well as lowers plastic waste.

This is why startups are upcycling food waste to create biodegradable and bio-compostable bioplastics. Not just the food waste, but the methane it produces, can also be diverted to the production of bioplastics.

Bio-resin

The versatility and affordability of bio-resins offer a viable alternative to polyurethane-based plastics. They are more energy-efficient to manufacture, safer to dispose of, and produce far fewer emissions over their lifecycle.

There are two types of bio-resin: degradable and compostable.

Degradable bio-resins can continually be broken down into smaller and smaller pieces—they are different from biodegradable resins because they cannot be reduced to simple biological matter. Compostable resins can be used as mulch after being mixed with specific bioproducts at a composting plant.

Polylactic Acid (PLA) Bioplastics

PLA, a type of thermoplastic polymer, is another class of bioplastics produced using fermentation. It utilizes manufacturing equipment for traditional plastics, making it easier for plastic manufacturers to transition to bioplastics.

While being less carbon-intensive, it delivers the same performance as conventional polymers. Due to its versatility, it finds applications in food, beverages, pharma, automotive, etc.

Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) Polymers

Many bioplastics are produced by the bacterial fermentation of biomass. PHAs, a class of such polyesters, find wide applications as an alternative to traditional packaging plastics.

By utilizing different raw materials and additives, startups create bioplastics with different properties. Moreover, the scalability of the fermentation technique makes PHAs cost-competitive.

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