1. What is the base material of bioplastics?
2. Are the granulate materials for bioplastics as sufficiently available as the traditional granules?
3. Is the availability of renewable raw materials granted for the production of bioplastics without serious displacement of other cultivation areas?
4. Why are bioplastics alleged to be better than bio petrol? Both are derived from renewable raw materials.
5. Often one component of bioplastics is cornstarch. Is it true that these films may smell of popcorn?
Bioplastics are produced from plastic granules. Granules are either made of artificially generated polymers (polyester), of natural starch (as for example cornstarch) or natural cellulose. The cellular structure of both natural base materials can be used as a basis for the polymer.
Currently, the demand for biogranules is far higher than the supply. For this reason the manufacturers are going to continuously enlarge their production capacities until about 2010. We can assume that only then the supply of compostable granules made of renewable raw materials will meet the needs. Therefore large manufacturers of films already conclude basic supply agreements with raw material suppliers to grant an adequate production of bioplastics for their customers.
Due to the currently small production quantities of granules for the manufacturing of bioplastics there are neither influences on other applications of the raw materials nor influences on fields needed for the growing of the raw materials to be expected. In order to avoid future problems in terms of competition to the cultivation of food the manufacturers of the granulate materials are already using the secondary products of the renewable raw materials which are not suitable for the production of food. These numbers and figures are important in this context:
- currently about 30,000 hectares of European agricultural areas are used for the production of the raw materials of bioplastics (source: European Bioplastics)
- in total there are 162,000,000 hectares of agricultural areas in Europe (Quelle: European Commission)
- the area needed for the production of raw materials of the bioplastics accounts for only 0.02 per cent of the total agricultural areas in Europe.
- on average 40 per cent of the agriculturally gained starch have already been used for industrial purposes for many years (source: German Starch Organisation/Deutscher Stärkeverband)
In contrast to bio petrol for cars bioplastics have two practical effects: First they serve as packaging materials and afterwards they can be reused in the recycling. Since much compost waste is combusted the warmth gained by the bioplastics can be converted into energy – bio electricity quite different.
Basically this would be possible as there are granules which evolve a sweet odour in the extruder. However, most of the manufacturers developed formulas which can be extruded almost entirely odourless.
6. What is OXO-degradable plastics about?
Some manufacturers call their plastic products which contain metallic additives „oxo-degradable" plastics. From time to time these kinds of plastics are wrongly declared as compostable or biodegradable. The association European Bioplastics , however, has not yet known any materials which correspond to the relevant packaging standards EN 14995, EN 1343 oder EN 13432. (information: 07/2008)