• EPISODE 5:
    To bio or not to bio

  • EPISODE 6:
    Science Time! The game show

  • EPISODE 7:
    But I recycle!

  • EPISODE 8:
    Can bioplastics ever compete?


#ThinkBioplastic uses science and facts
to show you that there is a
bioplastic solution to the plastic problem.

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What are bioplastics?

Don’t be scared of the science; bioplastics are actually very simple. There are two main categories:

  1. Bioplastics that are produced from renewable materials like plants and trees: these are known as “bio-based” bioplastics
  2. Bioplastics that are designed to biodegrade or compost at the end of their useful life: these are known as “biodegradable” bioplastics

Some bioplastics are both bio-based and biodegradable. And the best thing about them is that they can often replace environmentally unfriendly traditional plastic products – what we call petro-plastics.

Why are bioplastics great?

They can reduce the use of fossil fuels which are used to make traditional petro-plastics.

They can biodegrade or compost at the end of their useful life and so reduce pollution to the environment.

They can lock up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere whereas petro-plastics release this from underground sources: this helps fight climate change.

Do petro-plastics need to be replaced?

Lots of people don’t know that traditional petro-plastics are made from crude oil: the raw material of petrol and diesel. In fact, as much as 6% of every oil barrel is consumed by the plastics industry. That’s the same as the amount used globally for aviation fuel. Crude oil is a finite resource, so using it to make plastics isn’t always a sustainable production process for our planet.

As well as all that, non-biodegradable plastics cause damage to the natural world; littering our beaches, killing wildlife, piling up on landfill sites and filling our oceans. They’re accumulating in the environment because they’re synthetic, and the organisms on our planet haven’t evolved to effectively digest the chemicals.

So why do we have them in the first place? Because during their lifetime, they are lightweight, strong, durable and protective. They are actually very useful.

However, it’s their creation and disposal which cause great damage; but bioplastics are nowhere near as harmful.

Why recycling alone isn’t the answer

Recycling plastic reduces the use of precious resources and the  negative impact of surplus plastic on the environment.

However, although nearly all types of plastics can be recycled, the majority are not. This is due to the complicated logistics and cost of collection, and the contamination of mixed plastics. Unfortunately, this means that many plastic products cannot be effectively recycled.

Biodegradable bioplastics offer an environmentally friendly solution – but they won’t simply biodegrade if you put them on landfill or in your local woodland. They often need to be collected with food or garden waste and composted in specialist facilities.

In every case, recycling and collection systems need to be vastly improved.

Compost for less environmental cost

It often takes hundreds and sometimes thousands of years for non-biodegradable plastics to break down. Sometimes this means that they just get smaller and smaller, until they’re tiny enough to become microplastics. At this size they can filter into the food chain, which isn’t safe (or tasty) for human health.

However, microorganisms can completely convert biodegradable bioplastics back to their natural building blocks with no harmful effects.

These organic materials feed into agricultural products, which in turn enable the materials which make up bioplastics to grow, ultimately replacing the need for petro-plastics.



  • Why can’t we have a plastic free society?
    Plastics are amazingly light and strong and can be made into a near infinite number of products. Imagine a world without plastic drainage pipes, replacement heart valves, lightweight car interiors and mobile phones…pretty hard to picture, right? Plastics are here to stay, but what we need is better plastics that we manage in an efficient, eco-friendly way.
  • Is there enough plant matter to meet the demand for bio-based bioplastics?
    Yes. Bioplastics can be made from biomass, which comes from agricultural and forestry waste, or from plants grown on marginal land that’s not suitable for food production. We only have one planet and we have to decide how to use it - continuing to use unsustainable resources is not an option.
  • Aren’t they too expensive?
    Bioplastics are often more expensive than traditional plastics, as oil and gas are still relatively cheap raw materials. Bioplastics are also yet to reach the scale of the petro-based plastics industry. However, bioplastics are growing fast and many brands are choosing to absorb the higher costs, in order to do sustainable business and keep consumers from paying the price.
  • Can they be recycled?
    Yes. Bioplastics are often already recycled in the factories where they are made and there is no reason that consumers can’t recycle them too, once the industry scales.


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