Jump to main content
Jump to site search
Access to RSC content Close the message box

Continue to access RSC content when you are not at your institution. Follow our step-by-step guide.


Issue 22, 2017
Previous Article Next Article

Environmental performance of bio-based and biodegradable plastics: the road ahead

Author affiliations

Abstract

Future plastic materials will be very different from those that are used today. The increasing importance of sustainability promotes the development of bio-based and biodegradable polymers, sometimes misleadingly referred to as ‘bioplastics’. Because both terms imply “green” sources and “clean” removal, this paper aims at critically discussing the sometimes-conflicting terminology as well as renewable sources with a special focus on the degradation of these polymers in natural environments. With regard to the former we review innovations in feedstock development (e.g. microalgae and food wastes). In terms of the latter, we highlight the effects that polymer structure, additives, and environmental variables have on plastic biodegradability. We argue that the ‘biodegradable’ end-product does not necessarily degrade once emitted to the environment because chemical additives used to make them fit for purpose will increase the longevity. In the future, this trend may continue as the plastics industry also is expected to be a major user of nanocomposites. Overall, there is a need to assess the performance of polymer innovations in terms of their biodegradability especially under realistic waste management and environmental conditions, to avoid the unwanted release of plastic degradation products in receiving environments.

Graphical abstract: Environmental performance of bio-based and biodegradable plastics: the road ahead

Back to tab navigation

Article information


Submitted
28 Feb 2017
First published
21 Sep 2017

Chem. Soc. Rev., 2017,46, 6855-6871
Article type
Review Article

Environmental performance of bio-based and biodegradable plastics: the road ahead

S. Lambert and M. Wagner, Chem. Soc. Rev., 2017, 46, 6855
DOI: 10.1039/C7CS00149E

Social activity

Search articles by author

Spotlight

Advertisements