Technological watch

Bioplastics: Innovation for Green Transition

Bioplastics are one of the possible alternative solutions to the polymers of petrochemical origins. Bioplastics have several advantages over traditional plastics in terms of low carbon footprint, energy efficiency, biodegradability and versatility. Although they have numerous benefits and are revolutionizing many application fields, they also have several weaknesses, such as brittleness, high-water absorption, low crystallization ability and low thermal degradation temperature. These drawbacks can be a limiting factor that prevents their use in many applications. Nonetheless, reinforcements and plasticizers can be added to bioplastic production as a way to overcome such limitations. Bioplastics materials are not yet studied in depth, but it is with great optimism that their industrial use and market scenarios are increasing; such growth can be a positive driver for more research in this field. National and international investments in the bioplastics industry can also promote the green transition. International projects, such as EcoPlast and Animpol, aim to study and develop new polymeric materials made from alternative sources. One of their biggest problems is their waste management; there is no separation process yet to recycle the nonbiodegradable bioplastics, and they are considered contaminants when mixed with other polymers. Some materials use additives, and their impact on the microplastics they leave after breaking apart is subject to debate. For this reason, it is important to consider their life cycle analysis and assess their environmental viability. These are materials that can possibly be processed in various ways, including conventional processes used for petrochemical ones. Those include injection moulding and extrusion, as well as digital manufacturing. This and the possibility to use these materials in several applications is one of their greatest strengths. All these aspects will be discussed in this review.

Publication date: 18/01/2023

Author: Ana Costa

Reference: doi: 10.3390/polym15030517

MDPI (polymers)


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