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Why bio-plastics are better for the environment

Sounds too good to believe – a plastic that doesn’t use our limited fossil fuels plus reduces greenhouse gas emissions. A plastic that can be carbon neutral. How about a closed resource cycle so there’s no waste ever? Drum roll …

Enter bio-plastics. They’re on the cutting edge of plastics.

What happens if we keep making plastics from petrochemicals?

To make conventional plastics – the ones we’ve come to love yet hate, such as PE, PP, PET – we dig up fossil fuels to refine into petrochemicals. That’s a hefty process which increases C02 in the atmosphere. You’re right on the money if you’re thinking about higher average temperatures, the greenhouse effect and more floods, thunderstorms and droughts.

Being kind to our planet

Increasing C02 emissions is going the wrong way globally. Most governments and organisations have agreed to do something about reducing emissions. Environmental policies spell out specific targets. Australia is part of two key agreements committing us to a low-carbon, carbon resilient future. Our government signed the Paris Agreement and the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol on 10 November 2016.

Australia also has a range of policies to support these. Under the government’s climate change plan, our country must cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5% below 2000 levels by 2020. It also aims to achieve between 26% and 28% below 2005 levels by 2030. You can find more about them here.

Where are bio-plastics in all this? Well, according to the Australian Bioplastics Association, bio-based and biodegradable bio-plastics can significantly reduce C02 emissions compared to traditional plastics. Two key advantages are their renewability and availability. Across the world, too, people are taking notice of the power of bio-plastics. For example, the European Commission feels so strongly about it, they’re funding research to create a machine to sort bio-plastics from other plastics.

Bio-plastics in the web of life

Here’s how we’ve worked out the sustainability of bio-plastic. Our key tool is the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). It’s the standard to measure the environmental impact of products or services. The global market for bio-plastics, European Bio-plastics, endorses LCA and Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) to promote, quantify and verify the environmental sustainability of products.

bioplastics_lifecyle

Not all bio-plastics are created equal

LCA allows you to look at all stages in a product’s life. It spans from extracting the resources to disposing the product. It looks at current impacts, alternative scenarios and what improvements are achieved.

Keep in mind, though, there’s no one-size-fits all when doing a life cycle assessment of all bio-plastics. You need to do an assessment for each specific product or service. That doesn’t mean you can hold up assessments for two different products or services and compare them. You’d be limited in trying to make a sound comparison. That’s why, with the emerging industry of bio-plastics, the assessments also detail potential improvements in the life cycle and how to go about them.

Biotuff has completed Life Cycle Assessments on all of its products. Because we use cornstarch as our main ingredient, it means our products tick the box for being both biobased and biodegradable.  Our products are plant-sourced and offset their own carbon footprint by breaking down must faster and more easily than petro-chemical based ones. Biotuff is a member of the Australian Bioplastics Association and can attest our products are 100% biodegradable and 100% compostable. We’ve also gone to the trouble to ensure our products comply with Australian Standards AS4736 BPI AND AS5810 home compost. That’s why we’re confident in stamping our products with a label of sustainability. It’s a win for everyone and the planet.

For more information about our in-depth analysis, please get in touch.