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What are biopolymers?

Updated: Apr 22

Introduction of biopolymers, also called bioplastics or biomaterials

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A biopolymer (also called commonly bioplastics) is a polymer (or plastic material) that is either bio-based, or biodegradable/compostable, or features both properties.

Please note, bio-based does not equal biodegradable: A biopolymer can be bio-based and is durable in nature very much like traditional polyolefin materials (like PP, PE); it can also be biodegradable-in-soil but has been polymerized completely from fossil sources.

bio-based biopolymers

A bio-based biopolymer is derived completely or mostly from biomass. While most of the biopolymers commercially available are still built with 1st generation biomass (e.g., corn, sugarcane, starch, etc.), the next generation of biopolymers is polymerized from 2nd/3rd generation biomass (e.g., agricultural waste streams like bagasse). A direct blend of 2nd/3rd generation biomass in biopolymers to a maximum content without complex processes is saving energy and water, reducing overall GHG emissions and keeping material costs below or at market relevant price levels.

Examples for only bio-based biopolymers are bio-PP or bio-PE.

biodegradable biopolymers

A biodegradable biopolymer is a material that can be broken down through biochemical processes in which microorganisms convert materials into water, carbon dioxide, and biomass. The process of biodegradation depends on the surrounding environmental conditions (mainly temperatur