Why is biodegradable waste so cheap

Growth of bioplastics, the sustainable plastic

Bio-on is a bioplastics company that is currently building such a facility near Bologna, Italy. There it wants to manufacture its MINERV-PHA biopolymers, which are used in a wide variety of products from toys and furniture to applications in biomedicine and the automotive industry. "We can use the by-products of sugar beet and sugar cane production, glycerine (biodiesel waste), waste products from potato processing and many other materials as raw materials," explains company director Marco Astorri.

Like wood, MINERV PHAs are completely and naturally decomposed when they enter rivers or soil. After its completion in 2018, Bio-on's new plant will produce 1,000 tons of the biopolymers annually. In the long term, it offers capacities for double the amount.

Another bioplastics manufacturer is Novamot. In his MATER-BI bioplastics, petroleum-based polymers or renewable compostable polymers from agriculture are combined with starch to create mechanically stable structures that can be used for packaging, shopping bags, plastic cutlery and much more. “In terms of performance, the products are in no way inferior to conventional plastics, and they are biodegradable very quickly,” says Stefano Facco, the company's business development director.

Novamot shopping bags - which are only slightly more expensive than conventional bags - are sold worldwide by numerous retail groups, including in the UK co-op supermarkets. Aethic uses the company's packaging for its skin care products.