Bioplastics are plastics made from renewable biomass, such as vegetable fats and oils, maize starch, straw, woodchips, sawdust, recovered food waste, and so on. These are plastics derived from renewable biological sources such as plants, algae, and bacteria, as well as biodegradable materials. They are intended to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable than standard petroleum-based plastics, which are sourced from non-renewable fossil resources and can last for hundreds of years in the environment.

Some bioplastics are produced directly from natural biopolymers such as polysaccharides (e.g., starch, cellulose, chitosan, and alginate) and proteins (e.g., soy protein, gluten, and gelatin), whereas others are chemically synthesized from sugar derivatives (e.g., lactic acid) and lipids (oils and fats) from plants or animals, or biologically produced through sugar or lipid fermentation. Common plastics, on the other hand, such as fossil-fuel plastics (also known as petro-based polymers), are generated from petroleum or natural gas.

Bioplastics can be made from a range of renewable feedstocks, such as cornstarch, sugarcane, potatoes, and cellulose (which can be found in wood and agricultural waste). Some bioplastics are also created from microorganisms such as bacteria, which can naturally produce polymers.

Types of Bioplastics: There are two primary types of bioplastics:

  • Biodegradable Bioplastics: These can break down naturally into non-toxic components, like water, carbon dioxide, and biomass, under specific environmental conditions. They are often used for single-use items like disposable cutlery and packaging.
  • Biobased Bioplastics: These are derived from renewable sources but may not necessarily be biodegradable. They offer a reduced carbon footprint compared to traditional plastics and are used in a variety of products, including bottles, films, and textiles.

Environmental Benefits

Bioplastics are promoted as being more environmentally friendly because they reduce reliance on fossil fuels, which helps mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Biodegradable bioplastics also have the potential to reduce plastic pollution in natural environments.

One advantage of bioplastics is their lack of reliance on fossil fuel as a raw material, which is a limited and unevenly distributed resource tied to petroleum politics and environmental consequences. According to life cycle analysis studies, some bioplastics can be produced with a lower carbon footprint than their fossil counterparts, such as when biomass is employed as a raw material as well as for energy production. Other bioplastics’ processes, on the other hand, are less efficient and have a higher carbon footprint than fossil plastics.


Despite their benefits, bioplastics face some challenges. Biodegradable bioplastics often require specific conditions to break down, and if they end up in landfills or the ocean, they may not decompose as expected. Additionally, the cultivation of feedstock crops for bioplastics can compete with food production and raise concerns about land use and resource allocation.


Packaging, agricultural films, medical gadgets, textiles, and automotive components are among applications for bioplastics. PLA (polylactic acid), PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoates), and starch-based bioplastics are some well-known bioplastic brands.

Bioplastics regulations differ by region. Some countries have biodegradability and compostability regulations and certifications, while others have rules for labeling and marketing biobased products.

Overall, bioplastics are a promising avenue for reducing the environmental impact of plastics; however, their widespread adoption and effectiveness in addressing plastic pollution and carbon emissions are dependent on continued advances in technology, recycling infrastructure, and regulatory frameworks.