From what sources should bioplastics be made? Plant waste, waste from the food industry, for oil extraction.
- Bioplastics can and should be made from a variety of plants. Plants such as corn, sugar beets, sugar cane, wheat, cassava, castor beans, and agricultural residues can be used to make bioplastics. However, there is no one perfect resource. Instead, impacts should be assessed depending on the region, production methods, and technology used, and a number of feedstocks are likely to be most suitable.
- In assessing their impacts, we need to think beyond greenhouse gas emissions. Several factors influence the overall impact of a biosynthetic material, including land-use change, cycling potential, social aspects, and impacts on other areas such as biodiversity and soil health. Therefore, it is advisable to look at data beyond the conventional method of life cycle assessment (LCA).
- Biosynthetic does not always mean biodegradable. A biobased material does not necessarily mean biodegradable: these are two completely different properties. Biobased material means that the raw material from which the material is made comes from a renewable, biobased resource, rather than from fossil, non-renewable resources. Biodegradable means that the material has a chemical structure and specific functional groups that allow it to be degraded by microorganisms to carbon dioxide and biomass.
- We do not have to choose between bioplastic and recycled polyester. If the fashion and textile industry want to achieve its climate goals, we must use all the means at our disposal. Bioplastics and recycled polyester are not about choosing one or the other. Instead, the future will be about developing recycled bioplastics that help close the loop.
- Bioplastics are part of the industry's journey to a regenerative and circular future. We need to expand our knowledge and refine the database to assess which bioplastics are best suited in which contexts. We believe that these materials, if managed responsibly, will not only help ease the transition from extracting new fossil resources, but can also play an active role for industry in a renewable and circular future.