The European Parliament’s report on the European Strategy for Plastics adopted recently by the plenary testifies to the increasing acknowledgement and endorsement of the value propositions of bioplastics.
Bioplastics offer two paradigmatic developments at opposite ends of products’ life cycles.
On the one hand, bio-based plastics enable feedstock diversification and the gradual transition away from fossil and towards renewable feedstocks.
This is an essential value proposition in the EU’s bid to gain independence from fossil resource imports and to significantly reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The other key innovation proposed by the bioplastics industry is biodegradability and compostability according to existing harmonized standard on industrial composting (EN 13432), that is, the conversion of plastic materials to water, biomass, and CO2 through microbial metabolisation.
Applied to food contact applications such as biowaste collection bags or food packaging, biodegradability and compostability enables the optimisation of separate bio-waste collection for organic recycling, thus preserving valuable secondary resources and establishing an important aspect of the circular economy.
In other environments, biodegradability can help to reduce plastic waste accumulation, for example in modern agriculture through the use of mulch films that are biodegradable in soil according to the standard EN 17033.
In addition, there could also be selected future applications in marine contexts where items such as fishing gear are prone to being lost at sea unintentionally.
The report of the European Parliament on the Plastics Strategy ties in with earlier initiatives of the European Commission and statements of the Parliament with regard to provisions recently adopted in the Circular Economy Package as well as the Waste Framework Directive, the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive.