What are the general arguments for using bioplastics?

Fossil resources such as oil are limited. Just under 2 % of the world‘s oil consumption is currently used to manufacture consumer products and packaging made from plastic. Even if the quantities are extremely low, it makes sense to use non-fossil raw materials in processing plastic. Bioplastics are manufactured from renewable raw materials and can be classified as biodegradable, compostable or „drop-in“ bioplastics.

Biodegradable plastics:

Materials are referred to as biodegradable if they can be steadily broken down by microorganisms (e.g. bacteria or fungi) to form carbon dioxide and water. How long it takes for one of these plastics to biodegrade depends on external circumstances and time. The basis for biodegradable plastics is thermoplastic starch – primarily made from potatoes and maize – as well as polylactide (PLA) with a lactic acid base.

Compostable plastics:

The material basis for compostable plastics is identical to that of biodegradable plastics. To be able to describe a product as 100 % compostable, it must meet all of the requirements of European directive DIN EN 13432 regarding compostability. This directive stipulates that a compostable product must have decomposed by at least 90 % within 6 to 12 weeks under standardised conditions.

Bio-based drop-in plastics:

Drop-in bioplastics are plastics that have an identical chemical structure to conventional plastics. Bio-Polyethylene and Bio-Polypropylene are examples of „drop-in“ bioplastics. The basic building blocks of these bioplastics are manufactured from renewable raw materials (e.g. sugar cane) instead of oil. The same machines and procedures that are used for the further processing of fossil-based plastics into finished products can also be used for their bioplastic counterparts.

Why do we use bio-based drop-in plastics (sugar cane)?

We use drop-in bioplastics to produce our reusable items such as our „Coffee cup to go“. Unlike biodegradable and compostable plastics, drop-in bioplastics are dishwasherfriendly. Our drop-in bioplastics are based on ethanol extracted from sugar cane. The leftover parts of the sugar cane have various uses, such as in the production of renewable energy. The land used for sugar cane cultivation only constitutes around 2.5 % of Brazil‘s total agricultural land – a tiny amount when compared to the amount of land used to cultivate soybeans (9.6 %) or the pasture used for farm animals (approximately 48 %). A side product of sugar cane-processing is „bagasse“, which is used for such purposes as fertilising new plants. No eutrophication (enrichment of nutrients) of water nor acidification of soils takes place.

How high is the proportion of renewable raw materials that we use?

Depending on the material and the manufacturing process, the proportion of renewable raw materials we use is between 33 % and 94 %.

Why do we not use bamboo?

Items made from bamboo fibres often contain melamine. This melamine is in the form of a resin, from which formaldehyde can be released at temperatures as low as 70 °C. This substance is classified as carcinogenic.

What does the future hold for bioplastics?

If the European demand for drop-in bioplastics grows in the future, there is a possibility that we may start manufacturing our plastic on the basis of plants that can be grown here in Europe (e.g. sugar beet). By using sugar cane, we have at least begun to take steps in the right direction.

Have bioplastics a positive CO2 balance?

First and foremost, the manufacture and disposal of bioplastics offers clear advantages in terms of CO2 balance when compared to oil-based plastics. As they grow, the plants remove CO2 from the atmosphere by absorbing it, while also conserving fossil resources at the same time. When the bioplastics are disposed of at the end of their life cycle, the only CO2 released is that which the plants absorbed as they grew.

How safe are products made from bioplastics?

Our bioplastics are food-safe and are free of harmful substances, Phthalates and BPA, making them suitable for direct contact with food in accordance with EU Regulation 10/2011.

Are bioplastics recyclable?

Our products made from sugar cane-based drop-in plastics are chemically identical to oil-based products and are therefore 100 % recyclable. This means that the products can be integrated into existing return systems within the recycling process.