Bioplastic production in terms of life cycle assessment: A state-of-the-art review

Volumen:  15   |  Pages:  21   |  Year of Publication:  2021  | License:  CC BY 4.0

What is the objective?

The study aimed to conduct a comprehensive literature review to clarify the current state of knowledge about the implications of bio-based plastics versus petrochemical plastics, identifying important research gaps and, potential limitations in LCA outcomes to date.

Our Short Summary.

Through a literature review of articles on bioplastics, the study highlights that the recycling of both plastics and bioplastics could potentially lead to an increase in environmental impacts instead of a decrease. The article emphasizes the significance of incorporating multiple impact categories into the LCA when assessing bioplastics as a material to support the circular economy. The authors suggest that more research is necessary to fully comprehend the potential of bioplastics, considering the impacts, harmonization, and methodological enhancements of LCA.

Why you should read it!

This study is of interest to companies producing bio-based plastics products as well as LCA practitioners, scientists in academia, and consumers interested in understanding ways to better assess bioplastics.

Original Abstract

The current transition to sustainability and the circular economy can be viewed as a socio-technical response to environmental impacts and the need to enhance the overall performance of the linear production and consumption paradigm. The concept of biowaste refineries as a feasible alternative to petroleum refineries has gained popularity. Biowaste has become an important raw material source for developing bioproducts and biofuels. Therefore, effective environmental biowaste management systems for the production of bioproducts and biofuels are crucial and can be employed as pillars of a circular economy. Bioplastics, typically plastics manufactured from bio-based polymers, stand to contribute to more sustainable commercial plastic life cycles as part of a circular economy in which virgin polymers are made from renewable or recycled raw materials. Various frameworks and strategies are utilized to model and illustrate additional patterns in fossil fuel and bioplastic feedstock prices for various governments’ long-term policies. This review paper highlights the harmful impacts of fossil-based plastic on the environment and human health, as well as the mass need for eco-friendly alternatives such as biodegradable bioplastics. Utilizing new types of bioplastics derived from renewable resources (e.g., biowastes, agricultural wastes, or microalgae) and choosing the appropriate end-of-life option (e.g., anaerobic digestion) may be the right direction to ensure the sustainability of bioplastic production. Clear regulation and financial incentives are still required to scale from niche polymers to large-scale bioplastic market applications with a truly sustainable impact.


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