Circularity of biobased and biodegradable plastic food packaging

Projecttitel: Circularity of biobased and biodegradable plastic food packaging
Projectnummer: BBE-2005/LWV20.268
Looptijd: 2021 – 2022
Budget publiek: € 300.000
Budget privaat: € 300.000
Projectleider: Karin Molenveld
Betrokken partijen: Wageningen University & Research, Holland Bioplastics, Natureworks LCC, Novamont, Total-Corbion, Biotec

Biodegradable and biobased plastics offer sustainable solutions in (food)packaging. To support their market introduction it is important to increase the knowledge on their end of life fates, for example their behavior and potential effects in current waste management systems, including plastic recycling. By focusing on the benefits of bioplastic packaging in current waste management systems, this project aims to stimulate the use of bioplastic packaging and steer the use to target applications where current conventional packaging products are not recycled or even hinder recycling.

Positive impacts are expected by increasing the use of biobased plastics with an improved environmental footprint, improved end-of life options for biobased plastics and improved quality of current recycled (fossil-based) plastics.

The possible end of life fates of biobased and biodegradable plastic packaging products is scarcely studied and poorly understood. Existent studies by industry and research groups mainly focus on the recyclability of biobased plastics on a material level or on the effect of biobased plastics as an impurity in current fossil based plastics. The fate of actual biobased plastic packaging in current waste management systems and the likelihood that biobased plastics end up in recycled plastics streams is not taken into account. Moreover, most (LCA) studies that compare biobased plastics with fossil based plastics on a product level do not take into account neither the actual impact of the recycling process nor the total environmental impact of the package. Improved methods are needed to evaluate biobased plastics and outliers of the current waste management system. Assessing potential benefits results in the acceptance of biobased plastic in current waste management. Increased volumes of biobased plastics can make dedicated sorting streams and recycling of biobased plastics economically and technically viable.