What are Bioplastics?

Bioplastics are a type of plastic created from natural resources such as vegetable oils and corn starch, straw, and recycled food waste, among others.

Because bioplastics are made from plants and are environmentally beneficial, the consumption of petroleum used to make plastic is predicted to drop by 15-20% by 2025.

Most bioplastics, although not all, are considered biodegradable plastic. The following terms often confuse many people. Check out the primary terms you should know to fully understand bioplastics: 

1. Bio-Based Plastic

Bio-based plastic is a broad term that covers a wide range of substances made from plant-based material, whether fully or in part. For example, starch and cellulose from corn and sugarcane, respectively, are two very common renewable feedstocks used in the manufacturing of bioplastics.


2. Biodegradable Plastic

Biodegradation is the process by which microbes break down the material in suitable conditions. Essentially, every type of material is biodegradable, but practical applications suggest that materials capable of degrading over a short period are truly considered biodegradable.

Therefore, not all bio-based plastics are biodegradable because they do not degrade within a few months or years.


3. Compostable Plastic

Compostable plastics go through biological decomposition in a compost site to break down into water, biomass, inorganic compounds, and carbon dioxide. A significant difference between compostable and biodegradable is that no toxic residue is involved.


Applications of Bioplastics

An interesting fact about bioplastics is that many people consider them to be a new phenomenon, but they have actually existed for at least 100 years, as plastic bag companies and other plastic manufacturers have used bioplastics in many ways.

Products like corn oil and soybean oil were used in the manufacturing of auto parts for the Ford Model T.

Newer applications of bioplastics include food containers, biodegradable utensils, food packaging, and various other types of grocery bags made by plastic bag factories. These are also called commodity plastics. They have applications in other sectors like electrical housing, enclosure, and engineering-grade applications.

These various applications indicate that bioplastics are important in every other industry like electronics, food and beverage, plastic bag companies, textiles, healthcare, and many others.


Benefits of Bioplastics

The most obvious benefit of using bioplastics is that they have a smaller energy footprint and do not pollute the ecosystem, which leads to sustainable development. Moreover, the issue of overflowing landfills can be resolved to a great extent with the extensive use of bioplastics.

Because bioplastics do not contain bisphenol A, they are gaining in popularity among plastic bag suppliers and plastic bag companies. Various countries, including those in the European Union, have banned the use of BPA in baby bottles and other plastic products. Bioplastics are seen as a great alternative in such situations.

The applications and benefits of bioplastics vary from material to material. Generally, the manufacturing process for most bioplastics results in a lower greenhouse than that for plastics made from petroleum.

For instance, polylactic acid (PLA) can be produced from manufacturing equipment already available in many plastic manufacturing facilities and plastic bag factories. Yet, it is important to note that the entire lifecycle of plastic has many nuances that must be considered to ensure the most suitable material is being used.


Polylactic Acid (PLA)

PLA is a highly popular bioplastic with the characteristics of polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE). The process of manufacturing PLA does not require new or specialized equipment, which makes PLA affordable to produce for all types of plastic manufacturers and plastic bag suppliers.

PLA also has numerous applications, including in the production of plastic films, bottles, and medical devices, and in 3D printing as well. In addition, it can be used as shrink wrap material because it constricts heat.

On the other hand, the low glass transition temperature of PLA makes it unsuitable for containing liquid in many forms like the traditional plastic cups.


All in All

The bottom line is that the manufacturing and wide-ranging applications of bioplastics are certainly paving the path for more sustainable development. Various industries and organizations like plastic bag companies are adopting eco-friendly solutions in the form of biodegradable plastic.

With time, the significance and applications of bioplastics are expected to continue increasing due to a greater focus on sustainable development and a movement away from traditional petroleum-based plastics.