University of Twente Student Theses


Bioplastics, a sustainable solution?

Klazinga, Renee (2009) Bioplastics, a sustainable solution?

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Abstract:Sustainability is a broad topic with the focus on three pillars: economics, social and environmental. A packaging is just a small part of sustainability but this does not mean that it cannot contribute to sustainability. A packaging can contribute to sustainability by working on the three packaging R’s; by reducing, reusing or recycling the materials needed for a packaging. An addition to those three ‘R’s’ could be replacing, the replacement of current materials by a more sustainable material. Bioplastics could be used as a substitute for the current packaging materials Bioplastics are a relatively new and upcoming market. The potentials are high and there are already some packaging on the market that are made of these plastics. Bioplastics are plastic that are made from renewable resources (biobased) such as corn or plastics that are biodegradable. They could also be both of them, biobased and biodegradable. There are four different type of bioplastics on the market: ‐ Polymers directly extracted from biomass ‐ Polymers produced by biological derived monomers ‐ Polymers produced by microorganism ‐ Plastics produced by classical synthesis from synthetic monomers These types have their own properties and therefore also their own strengths and weakness. Most of the bioplastics have poor moisture barrier properties while the oxygen barrier is relatively high. Leaf BV is a confectionary company interested in bioplastic. Their packaging mostly consists of filmflexibles and rigids. Several bioplastics have been tested on environmental impact, shelf life, look & feel, process ability and costs and the results have been compared to their conventional materials. Bioplastics have less impact on climate change and fossil resources while they have more impact others such as eutrophication, ozone layer depletion and land use. The total impact (weighed with the eco indicator 9 weighing set) of bioplastics is higher than the total impact of conventional plastics. Most of the bioplastics are not able to maintain the shelf life of the products as good as their conventional plastics because of the low moisture barrier properties. The look & feel of the bioplastics are different from the conventional plastics but it cannot be said that this will have a negative effect. The process ability of bioplastics is difficult. The costs of conventional plastics also seem to be higher that the costs of conventional plastics but there are biodegradable plastics on the market that costs around the same as conventional plastics. These biodegradable plastics have been ‘made’ biodegradable through the addition of a particular additive. Bioplastic do not seem to be suitable as replacemet of their current transwrap material but there are other options where bioplastics could be suitable. The market potentials are high and the change that big companies will start to push suppliers to pack environmental friendly will make these options attractive. The options are plastics that are biobased and biodegradable, biobased and biodegradable (secondary packaging and components), partly biobased; not biodegradable, biodegradable; not biobased, and biodegradable and partly biobased.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Leaf BV
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Subject:51 materials science
Programme:Industrial Design BSc (56955)
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