Technological watch

Towards a Circular Economy of Plastics: An Evaluation of the Systematic Transition to a New Generation of Bioplastics

Plastics have become an essential part of the modern world thanks to their appealing physical and chemical properties as well as their low production cost. The most common type of polymers used for plastic account for 90% of the total production and are made from petroleum-based nonrenewable resources. Concerns over the sustainability of the current production model and the environmental implications of traditional plastics have fueled the demand for greener formulations and alternatives. In the last decade, new plastics manufactured from renewable sources and biological processes have emerged from research and have been established as a commercially viable solution with less adverse effects. Nevertheless, economic and legislative challenges for biobased plastics hinder their widespread implementation. This review summarizes the history of plastics over the last century, including the most relevant bioplastics and production methods, the environmental impact and mitigation of the adverse effects of conventional and emerging plastics, and the regulatory landscape that renewable and recyclable bioplastics face to reach a sustainable future.

Publication date: 17/03/2022

Author: Elda M. Melchor-Martínez

Reference: doi: 10.3390/polym14061203

MDPI (polymers)


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.