Bioplastics & Recycled Plastic: When and How

Emamou Team

Bioplastics

Bioplastic materials and products are not yet popular choices but more bioplastic options are already placed in the consumer market. Made from plants or other biological materials, bioplastics have many advantages. They have a low carbon footprint in principle, therefore they have the potentials to replace fossil-based – conventional plastics in many applications. Currently, bioplastic products are already present in many sectors including packaging, textile, coatings, and adhesives, consumer goods, health care, agriculture and horticulture, building and construction, electric and electronic appliances.

Bioplastics are benign to human and animal health, and to the environment in general. Therefore they are recommended to use in packaging for food and beverages, health care, and mulching for agriculture and horticultural products. This is particularly important due to the presence of toxic chemicals in conventional plastics used in food-contact packaging and mulching film which can lead to severe health problems as well as contaminate soil quality and water resources.

But bioplastics are still expensive compared to fossil-based plastics, therefore their markets are still limited, covering only 1% market share in the EU. In addition, bioplastics might take years to decompose particularly in the temperate climate zone, therefore collection and sorting of bioplastics for industrial composting should be seriously considered. But thanks to its advantages, the global bioplastics production capacities are set to increase from 2.11 million tonnes in 2020 to approximately 2.87 million tonnes in 2025[1].


[1] https://www.european-bioplastics.org/market/

Recycled Plastics

Recycled plastics are reprocessed from plastic scraps collected through various recycling channels. With new regulations to stimulate the transition to carbon neutrality, plastic recycling is gaining more attention from the perspectives of the plastic industry, NGOs, policymakers, and consumers.

Recycled plastics consume low energy and can have a carbon savings of 30-80%[1] [2] compared to conventional plastics. Plastic recycling ensures sustainable use of finite resources and reduces substantially waste amount to be landfilled or pollute the environment.

However recycled plastics are often of lower quality compared to virgin plastics and they are rarely considered for food-contact packaging products. Concerns are often about chemical traces of recycled plastics and their suitability for different intended uses. Incidental contamination or lack of information about the possible presence of chemicals of concern is a problem for various streams of plastics waste[3]. The EU aims to have ten million tonnes of recycled plastics find their way into new products on the EU market by 2025. To achieve this target, a better and more harmonised separate collection and sorting is needed to reduce fragmentation and disparities in the collection and sorting systems and improve the economics of plastics recycling.

Recycled plastics are popular to be used in the non-food packaging, building, and construction sectors.


[1] https://stanfordmag.org/contents/the-link-between-plastic-use-and-climate-change-nitty-gritty

[2] https://thisisplastics.com/environment/the-potential-of-recycled-plastics/

[3] https://www.europarc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Eu-plastics-strategy-brochure.pdf

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