Climate change and bioplastics

There is no doubt that our dependency on petroleum is a major contributing factor to climate change – whether it is the petrol that we put in our car or the polystyrene cup that we use for our take-away coffee. Studies show that a move towards plant-based, biodegradable alternatives to plastics could provide a solution to this problem by reducing CO2 levels. The most obvious reason being that, in contrast with petroleum-based plastics, they are biodegradable and break down into harmless substances through the action of naturally occurring micro-organisms.

The positive effects of bioplastics in relation to climate change have also to do with the manufacturing process. Studies have shown that the manufacture of plant-based plastics use 30% less energy than petroleum-based products, and only contributes 25% of the greenhouse gases that fossil fuel plastics do. In fact, growing plants such as sugarcane and corn to use in the manufacture of biodegradable plastics reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere actually help to reverse climate change and minimise the frequency of crop failures. According to an article posted on the European Bioplastic Association website, Life cycle analysis show that “bioplastics enable a CO2 saving of 30 to 80% compared to conventional plastics.” One study in particular reveals that for every pound of soy-based polymers produced, 2.1 pounds of carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere.