A recent article has been issued focusing on issues around the real environmental impacts and life cycle of bioplastics. The article in fact considers bioplastics’ biodegradability, the side effects of bioplastics’ production, such as land use, and highlights other problems such as the materials’ discard and dismantle. The article also presents a few new types of biodegradable bioplastics being at the moment studied and developed.
Considering the estimated 9 million tons of trash entering the oceans every year, some argue bioplastics are to be considered a solution to plastic pollution. The often-cited advantages of bioplastics are reduced use of fossil fuel resources, a smaller carbon footprint, and faster decomposition.
However, the article stresses the importance of considering the materials’ life cycle. Bioplastics, in fact, can result in greater amounts of pollutants, due to the fertilizers and pesticides used for their production, can contribute more to ozone depletion and require extensive land use. Not only, but in order to biodegrade bioplastics, high temperature industrial composting facilities are required and not all cities have the infrastructure to deal with this.
The study concludes by mentioning a few new types of bioplastics under study, such as biodegradable bioplastic deriving from wastewater and solid waste and biodegradable bioplastics produced from organic waste such as food waste and crop residue.