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Types of Bioplastics and Environmental Pros and Cons of Bioplastics

Types of Bioplastics and Environmental Pros and Cons of Bioplastics2021.03.22

Types of bioplastics


Bioplastics are not one single substance—rather, they are a family of products each with differing properties and applications depending on their base materials and manufacture.


Currently, the bioplastic family can be divided into three main groups:


Group 1: Plastics that are both bio-based and biodegradable: polylactic acid (PLA) and polyhydroxalkanoate (PHA) 


Group 2: Bio-based or partly bio-based non-biodegradable plastics, known as ‘drop-ins’: bio-polyethylene (PE), bio-polypropylene (PP) and bio-polyethylene terephalate (PET)


Group 3: Plastics that are based on fossil fuel resources and are biodegradable: polybutyrate (PBAT) and polycaprolactone (PCL)


Environmental pros and cons of bioplastics


There are two sides to every story, and bioplastics are no different. They have great potential and many positive attributes, yet these are countered by an almost equal number of drawbacks. Both sides of the equation need to be considered closely when considering the environmental impact of bioplastics in our society.



  • They reduce the use of fossil-fuels and reliance on non-renewable resources.
  • Manufacturing process can use up to 65 per cent less energy and generates fewer greenhouse gases than conventional plastic.
  • Some are biodegradable and/or compostable.
  • Some can be recycled alongside conventional plastics.
  • Some are non-toxic and safe for medical and internal use.



  • They have a higher manufacturing cost—though this is changing as more companies begin to make bioplastics.
  • Composting may be possible only in industrial composting processes.
  • Not all are recyclable.
  • Some can interfere with or damage standard plastic recycling processes.
  • Not all are biodegradable.
  • If sent to landfill, some can release methane—a potent greenhouse gas—into the atmosphere.
  • They’re not suitable for use in a number of products.
  • Use of plant sugar and starch sources could have a negative impact on food prices.
  • Bioplastics do nothing to change consumer behaviour regarding their use of plastic products.



OKCHEM PLA, PBAT and PBS Distribution Project

OKCHEM is the strategic partner of Anhui BBCA (expected to be the largest PLA producer in China) and Xinjiang Blue Ridge Tunhe (the largest PBAT producer in China) to look for buyers and partners globally. If you want to join us in this project, please contact us at You may also make the application online at:

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