What are bio-based plastics?
Bio-based plastics are obtained completely or only partially (e.g. also through additives such as stabilisers) from renewable raw materials such as corn or sugar cane. The proportion can vary from a few percent to almost 100 percent. Bio-PET, for example, consists of about 30% sugar cane and 70% fossil raw materials.
What are they used for?
Bio-based plastics are currently used, for example, for film packaging, bottles, caps, tubes, canisters or in the coating of paper packaging. Perishable and sensitive products are very rarely packaged with bio-based plastics. The reason for this is that bio-based plastics usually have a very low water vapour and oxygen barrier, so that food is often not sufficiently protected in this packaging.
Are bio-based plastics sustainable?
One advantage of bio-based plastic over fossil-based plastic is that bio-based plastic saves petroleum because it is based on renewable raw materials such as corn, wheat or sugar cane. In addition, the CO2 balance is also advantageous: plants naturally need carbon dioxide for their growth, which is taken from the air and stored. In the production of bio-based plastics, therefore, just as much CO2 is initially removed from the atmosphere as is later released again during their combustion or decomposition. In other areas, however, bio-based plastics have a greater impact on the environment - for example, through the use of fertilisers and pesticides.
Are bio-based plastics recyclable?
There are bio-based plastics that have the same chemical structure as their fossil-based counterparts. Therefore, they can be recycled in the same way. One example is PET bottles with bio-based components, which are recycled together with conventional PET bottles. In principle, however, the sorting facilities for light packaging from the yellow bag are not yet designed to distinguish between bio-based and fossil-based plastics. Unusual plastics that have different chemical structures than their fossil-based counterparts therefore often end up in energy recovery and are incinerated.
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