Bio-based and biodegradable plastics: Let’s untangle the real from the fake!

The students of the bachelor degree ALIPACK of the IUT of Montpellier provide you with clear and concise information in the form of questions/answers!

Why so much confusion?

Plastic has become an essential and ubiquitous material in our economy and everyday life. It is estimated that 60% of all plastics already produced on Earth have been discarded and accumulate in landfills or the natural environment, especially in the form of microplastics. Actions on plastics have thus been identified as a priority in the 2015 European Circular Economy Action Plan. Issues are particularly high in the field of packaging, which accounts for 40% of total plastic consumption and generates 75% of the plastics accumulated in the environment. New packagings are emerging every day: “green”, “sustainable”, bio-based”, “biodegradable”, “compostable”, “recyclable”.

What is the meaning of these terms? Are all logos internationally regulated and recognized?

Motivated by economic arguments, greenwashing is the process of conveying an impression or providing information about how the company’s products or processes are more environmentally sound, while the reality of the facts does not correspond to the content of the messages broadcast. The problem with this misleading and unsubstantiated, called “green-washing”, is that it creates confusion that is detrimental to the engaged structures and promising scientific projects.

To unlock the potential of bio-sourced and biodegradable packaging materials, clear and precise information must be provided to society as a whole.

Developing an eco-responsible critical spirit to combat greenwashing!

The objective of the activities carried out by the students of ALIPACK and coordinated by Valérie Guillard and Hélène Angellier-Coussy, is to clarify the terms used, to present the different scenarios of the end of life of the packaging and the current limits of recycling, to present materials that are biodegradable under natural conditions, to raise awareness of the long-term effects of the use of plastics and the need to consider them in the assessment of environmental impacts, to reflect on possible changes in our consumption patterns, to clarify the use of resources in the manufacture of packaging materials, and to present the various possible levers for eco-designing packaging.

If you have any questions on the subject, do not hesitate to ask us! We will be happy to look into the subject.

PART 1: Bio-based vs. biodegradable

Topic 1: Bio-based vs. biodegradable- Key definitions

Topic 2: Bio-based vs. biodegradable- Reciprocity or not

Topic 3: Bio-based vs. biodegradable- Examples

Topic 4: Bio-based vs. biodegredable- Advantages and disadvantages

PART 2: Biodegradability vs. compostability

Topic 5: Biodegradability vs. compostability- Key definitions

Topic 6: Biodegradability vs. compostability- Home and industrial composting

Topic 7: Biodegradability vs. compostability- Oxo-degradable is not bidegradable

Topic 8: Biodegradability vs. compostability- Mechanisms of biodegradation

PART 3: Bioplastics: Labels

Topic 9: Bioplastics: Labels- Bio-based

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