Bioplastics: New Routes, New Products

Gareth Ross*, Sukunya Ross, Brian J. Tighe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter


There are two main drivers for the growing interest in bioplastics: the first is the production of plastics materials and the second is their disposal. This chapter is concerned with both bioplastics based on renewable resources-which may or may not degrade in the environment or a biological host-and materials that are fossil based but are classified as "biodegradable." The greatest importance currently attaches to materials derived from renewable biological resources that are susceptible to biodegradation to benign products-ultimately carbon dioxide and water. Nonetheless, it is important to consider the complete spectrum of bioplastics in the light of technical, economic, and political considerations. Here, both life-cycle analysis and the quantification of that proportion of a material or product actually of biological origin, will increase in significance as the field develops. Against this background, this chapter reviews the key biodegradable bioplastics, polylactic acid, polyhydroxybutyrate and its copolymers, and poly(butylene succinate) together with the blending and modification techniques that are used to "tailor make" products that can compete technically with conventional commodity plastics. This is followed by consideration of the important complementary area of bioplastics-the use of biological feedstocks to produce a palette of raw materials or building blocks that can then be used in conventional polymer syntheses to produce a range of both biodegradable and nonbiodegradable plastics. An important aspect of this approach is the accessibility and emergence of novel monomers such as 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid, which has led to an interesting alternative to polyethylene terephthalate. This chapter concludes with an overview of the important but potentially contentious area of international standards, which are used to define whether a product can be sold as biodegradable in specific jurisdictions around the world.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBrydson's Plastics Materials: Eighth Edition
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9780323358248
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2016


  • Biodegradable polymers
  • Bioplastics
  • Life-cycle analysis
  • Poly(butylene succinate)
  • Poly(lactic acid)
  • Polyhydroxyalkanoates
  • Polymer blends


Dive into the research topics of 'Bioplastics: New Routes, New Products'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this