NIRI’s Biopolymer Glossary
As part of NIRI’s Comprehensive Guide to Biopolymers – our team of experts and innovators have created a “Biopolymer Jargon Buster” which will help you understand the different terms and definitions related to this increasingly popular subject. NIRI’s Biopolymer Glossary provides a comprehensive list of terms and definitions that are frequently used in the industry. Whether you’re a student, researcher, or professional in the field, this guide will help you stay up to date with the latest advancements in Biopolymers.
Understanding Biopolymer Terms and Definitions
On this page you will find an extensive list of terms and definitions related to Biopolymers, Bioplastics and Sustainability. It includes definitions of biodegradable, compostable, and biobased plastics, as well as terms related to production, processing, and disposal.
Aerobic digestion is a type of wastewater treatment process in which microorganisms break down organic matter in the presence of oxygen. This results in the production of biogas, which is a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide. In relation to biopolymers, aerobic digestion can be used to break down plant and animal waste into raw materials for bioplastics production. The microorganisms consume the organic matter, releasing the sugar, lipid, or starch that can be processed into bioplastics. This process is considered more sustainable than traditional methods of extracting raw materials, as it utilises waste that would otherwise contribute to environmental degradation.
Anaerobic digestion is a type of wastewater treatment process in which microorganisms break down organic matter in the absence of oxygen. This results in the production of biogas, which is a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide. In the context of biopolymers, anaerobic digestion can be used to break down plant and animal waste into raw materials for bioplastics production. The microorganisms consume the organic matter, releasing the sugar, lipid, or starch that can be processed into bioplastics. As an additional benefit, the biogas produced during anaerobic digestion can be captured and used as a renewable energy source, further reducing the environmental impact of the process.
The use of technology to sort and categorise waste materials based on specific properties is known as Automatic Sorting. When discussed in the same context as biopolymers, automatic sorting is used to separate biodegradable plastics from other waste materials so that they can be processed into new bioplastics products. This method uses a combination of physical and optical methods, such as infrared sensors, to identify the material properties of each item in the waste stream. The sorted materials are then directed to separate processing channels for further treatment. Automatic sorting is an important part of the biopolymer production process as it ensures that the raw materials used in bioplastics production are high quality and free of contaminants. This not only improves the sustainability of the production process, but also the performance and quality of the final products. An added benefit of separating biodegradable plastics from other waste materials is that less waste ends up in landfills which contributes to environmental degradation.
Biobased refers to products that originate from renewable biological resources instead of finite fossil resources. In the context of biopolymers, biobased refers to polymers made from renewable biological sources like plant-based materials, rather than from petroleum. Biobased biopolymers are an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastics, as they reduce dependence on finite fossil resources and have a lower carbon footprint. The use of biobased biopolymers helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve non-renewable resources, making it an important step towards a sustainable future.
Biobased carbon refers to the carbon content that originates from renewable biomass, such as plants, microorganisms, and agricultural waste. This type of carbon is different from the carbon found in fossil fuels, which are non-renewable. When referring to biopolymers, biobased carbon is used as the source material to create bioplastics, which are plastics made from renewable resources. The biobased carbon is processed and transformed into biopolymers through various methods, such as fermentation and polymerisation. The use of biobased carbon in biopolymers offers several benefits, including reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved sustainability, and a reduction in the dependency on non-renewable resources.
Biobased carbon content
Biobased carbon content refers to the proportion of carbon in a material that is derived from recently photosynthesised plant material, rather than fossil fuels. Biobased carbon content is a key factor in determining the sustainability and environmental impact of a material, as well as its potential to be considered a “renewable resource”.
In the context of biopolymers, biobased carbon content is a crucial characteristic that determines the material’s biodegradability, compostability, and carbon footprint. Biopolymers made from high biobased carbon content are considered to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly than those made from fossil fuels.
A high biobased carbon content also indicates that the biopolymer has a lower carbon footprint, as the carbon dioxide that is released during its degradation is taken up by new plant growth, creating a closed carbon cycle. This makes biopolymers with high biobased carbon content an attractive alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastics.
Biobased labels are a labelling system that certifies the biobased content of a product. Biobased products are made from renewable biological resources, such as plants or waste materials, rather than from finite petroleum-based resources. Biobased labelling provides consumers with information about the environmental and sustainability benefits of biobased products.
Biobased labelling is an important tool for determining the biobased carbon content of biopolymers. The biobased carbon content of biopolymers is determined by measuring the amount of carbon from renewable resources present in the final product. The biobased labels can help consumers to easily identify the biopolymers that have a high biobased carbon content and are therefore more sustainable and environmentally friendly than traditional petroleum-based plastics.
Biobased (mass) content
Biobased (mass) Content refers to the amount of renewable, organic carbon present in a biopolymer product compared to the total amount of carbon in the product. The biobased mass content is often expressed as a percentage of the total product weight.
The biobased mass content of a biopolymer product is an important factor in its sustainability and environmental impact, as it indicates how much of the product is made from renewable resources and how much is made from fossil-based materials like oil or natural gas. By using products with a high biobased mass content, consumers and companies can help reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future.
Biobased plastic is a type of plastic made from renewable and sustainable resources such as sugarcane, corn, and other crops, as well as from waste materials like food waste, agricultural waste, and municipal waste. The biobased carbon content of these materials is used to produce biopolymers, which are polymers made from renewable sources. These biopolymers are processed to make biobased plastics, which are similar in performance and appearance to conventional petroleum-based plastics but have a lower carbon footprint and a more sustainable life cycle.
Materials that can break down into natural elements through the action of living organisms, such as bacteria and fungi, within a set period of time under specific environmental conditions are classed as Biodegradable. These materials are environmentally friendly because they don’t persist in the environment as pollutants.
In the context of biopolymers, biodegradable refers to plastics that can break down over time into water, carbon dioxide, and biomass.
Biodegradable plastics are plastics that can be broken down by microorganisms into water, carbon dioxide, and biomass. These plastics are designed to degrade in the natural environment and can be composted or disposed of in landfills. Some biodegradable plastics can degrade in a matter of months, while others can take years or even decades to break down.
Biomass refers to organic matter that originates from living organisms or their remains. In the context of biopolymers, biomass can refer to the feedstock used in the production stage. Biomass can come from a variety of sources, including agricultural waste, forestry waste, and algae. The material can be processed to extract sugars, lipids, or starches that can then be used as the source of carbon to produce bioplastics.
Bioplastics are a type of plastic that is made from renewable resources such as corn starch, sugar cane, or pea starch, instead of traditional petroleum. Bioplastics are considered to be a more environmentally friendly alternative to conventional petroleum-based plastics, as they are biodegradable and compostable.
Bioplastic material abbreviations
- CA = cellulose acetate
- HDPE = high density polyethylene
- LDPE = low density polyethylene
- PA = polyamide
- PBAT = polybutylene adipate-co-terephthalate
- PBS = Polybutylene succinate
- PCL = Polycaprolacton
- PE = polyethylene
- PEF =polyethylene fuanorate
- PET = polyethylene terephthalate
- PHA = polyhydroxyalkanoate
- PHB = polyhydroxybutyrate
- PLA = polylactic acid
- PP = polypropylene
- PTT = polytrimethylene terephthalate
Certification refers to the process of verifying that a product, process, or system meets a set of specified standards and criteria. Certification in relation to biopolymers is a process of verifying that a bioplastic product is produced using environmentally sustainable practices and meets certain standards relating to biodegradability, compostability, or biobased content.
There are several organisations that offer certification for bioplastics, including the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) and the European Bioplastics Association. These certifications provide a means for consumers, governments, and businesses to identify and choose products that have a lower environmental impact and are produced using renewable resources.
CO2-neutrality refers to a state where the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere is balanced by an equivalent amount of CO2 being taken in. For example, through processes such as photosynthesis. CO2-neutrality in biopolymer production is an important concept because the production of bioplastics is often touted as a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastics. Bioplastics are typically made from renewable resources such as plants, and the CO2 emissions released during their production can be absorbed by the next crop of plants grown for the same purpose. This means that the production of bioplastics can, in theory, be CO2-neutral over time, helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
The ability of a material to decompose into natural elements in a specific environment is known as compostability. In the context of biopolymers, compostability refers to the ability of bioplastics to break down into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass, without leaving behind any harmful substances. This process occurs due to the presence of microorganisms that are able to digest the bioplastic and convert it into compost. Compostability is a desirable property for biopolymers as it provides a sustainable disposal option and helps to reduce the environmental impact of plastics. However, it is important to note that not all bioplastics are compostable, and that the conditions required for composting, such as temperature and moisture, must be carefully controlled. To ensure that bioplastics are compostable, they are often certified by organisations that set standards for compostability and provide labelling to inform consumers and waste management facilities.
Compostable plastics are biodegradable plastics that are designed to be composted in industrial composting facilities. They are made from renewable resources and can be broken down into water, carbon dioxide, and biomass in a matter of weeks. Compostable plastics are different from biodegradable plastics because they can only be composted in industrial facilities and not in the natural environment.
Environmental claims are the statements made by a product or a company regarding the environmental benefits or impacts of their products. These claims may include information about the product’s biobased content, carbon footprint, energy use, recyclability, biodegradability, compostability, and other environmental attributes.
Environmental claims play an important role in helping consumers and businesses make informed decisions about the products they use and purchase. For example, a biopolymer product may make a claim about its biodegradability or compostability, indicating that it will break down naturally in the environment without leaving harmful residuals. Similarly, a product may claim to be CO2-neutral, indicating that the emissions of greenhouse gases associated with its production and disposal have been minimized or offset. The accuracy and credibility of these environmental claims are often evaluated by third-party certifications, such as the European EN 13432 standard for compostability.
End of waste
End of Waste refers to the point at which waste materials are no longer considered as such, but rather are considered as a new product with a different purpose and value. It is a concept used in waste management, and the definition of End of Waste can vary depending on the local regulations and the type of material in question.
The term End of Waste can be used to describe the point at which biodegradable plastics have reached the end of their useful life and can no longer serve their original purpose. At this point, they are typically sent to composting or anaerobic digestion facilities, where they are broken down into their natural, organic components and can be transformed into compost or biogas. This is one way that biopolymers can contribute to a more sustainable waste management system, as they can be reintegrated into the environment in a closed-loop manner, reducing the need for landfilling and helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Energy recovery refers to the conversion of waste or by-products into energy, typically in the form of electricity, heat, or fuel. In the context of biopolymers, energy recovery refers to the conversion of waste biopolymers or the by-products of biopolymer production into energy. This can be done through various methods such as incineration or anaerobic digestion.
Biopolymers can be burned as a fuel source, generating heat and electricity, or they can be broken down through anaerobic digestion to produce biogas, which can be used as a fuel. This helps to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels and contribute to a more sustainable energy system.
Enzyme-mediated plastics recovery is a process in which biodegradable plastics are broken down into their constituent parts using enzymes. This process can be seen as an alternative to traditional recycling methods for biopolymers. Enzyme-mediated recovery has the advantage of being able to effectively degrade the biopolymer without generating harmful by-products. The broken-down material can then be used as a source of energy or as a feedstock to produce new biopolymers. This process has the potential to greatly reduce the environmental impact of biopolymers, as it can help to eliminate waste and conserve resources.
Feedstock: First Generation
First generation feedstock, also known as “food crops”, refers to plants that are typically grown for human or animal consumption, such as corn or sugar cane. These crops are rich in carbohydrates and are a source of carbon for the production of biopolymers.
In the production of biopolymers, the sugar, lipid, or starch directly extracted from these food crops is used as the carbon source. First generation feedstock has been cultivated over centuries with the aim of reducing land use, increasing yields, and improving resistance to pests and disease. As a result, first generation feedstock is currently the most efficient source of carbon for the production of biopolymers.
Feedstock: Second Generation
Second generation feedstock refers to non-food crops and agricultural waste, such as corn stalks, straw, and sawdust, that can be used as a source of carbon for the production of biopolymers. Unlike first gen feedstock, second generation feedstock does not compete with food crops for land and resources and is seen as a more sustainable option biopolymer production.
In the development of biopolymers, the cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin contained in second generation feedstock is broken down into sugars, which can then be fermented to produce bioplastics. This process can be more complex and technically challenging than using first generation feedstock, but it offers a number of advantages, including lower competition with food crops, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and lower costs.
Feedstock: Third Generation
Third generation feedstock refers to algae and other microorganisms that can be used as a source of carbon for the production of biopolymers. These microorganisms can be grown on non-arable land, such as wastewater ponds and saltwater coasts, and do not compete with food crops for resources. Additionally, algae have a high growth rate and can produce large quantities of lipids, which can be converted into bioplastics.
The use of third generation feedstock for the production of biopolymers has several benefits, including a low carbon footprint (algae consume carbon dioxide as they grow) and a high yield of lipids, making them an efficient source of carbon for bioplastics production.
However, the commercial production of biopolymers using third generation feedstock is still in the early stages of development, and there are a number of technical and economic challenges that need to be overcome before it can be widely adopted. This includes improving the efficiency of algae growth and lipid extraction, as well as reducing the cost of producing biopolymers using this technique.
Third generation feedstock represents a promising future for the biopolymer industry, offering a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastics and food-based biopolymers. Ongoing research and development is focused on overcoming the technical and economic challenges associated with the commercial production of biopolymers using third generation feedstock.
Genetically modified organism (GMO)
A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally through mating or natural recombination. GMOs are created using genetic engineering techniques, where specific genes or sequences of DNA are introduced, deleted, or modified.
GMOs can be used as a source of renewable raw materials to produce bioplastics. For example, genetically modified bacteria or plants can be engineered to produce high levels of biodegradable polymers, such as polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA). This allows for the large-scale production of bioplastics, potentially at a lower cost than traditional petrochemical-based plastics.
Greenwashing is a deceptive marketing practice in which a company makes exaggerated or false claims about the environmental benefits of a product in order to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers. Greenwashing can refer to claims made by companies about the environmental benefits of their bioplastic products that are not supported by evidence or are misleading. For example, a company may claim that its bioplastic product is “100% biodegradable,” but the biodegradation process may not be well-defined or may only occur under specific conditions that are not commonly available in the environment. In these cases, the product may not actually have the environmental benefits that are claimed, and the company is engaging in greenwashing to mislead consumers into thinking that the product is more environmentally friendly than it actually is.
Land use refers to the way in which a particular piece of land is utilised or managed, often for agricultural, commercial, or residential purposes. In the context of biopolymers, land use can be related to the production of bioplastics. For example, the cultivation of crops that serve as feedstock for the production of bioplastics requires a certain amount of land. The amount of land required and the way in which it is used can have an impact on the environment i.e., deforestation and the loss of wildlife habitats. The sustainability of bioplastics production is often evaluated based on the land use and the impact it has on the environment. Efforts are made to minimise the land use required for bioplastics production and to use land in a sustainable manner.
The life cycle of a product refers to the stages it goes through from its conception to its ultimate disposal or end of life. This includes the extraction of raw materials, production, use, and disposal.
The life cycle analysis of a bioplastic product considers the environmental impact of each stage of its life, from the growing of the feedstock used to make the bioplastic, to the processing and manufacturing of the bioplastic, to its use and disposal. Understanding the life cycle of a bioplastic product can help to determine its overall environmental impact, as well as identify areas for improvement.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a comprehensive evaluation method that assesses the environmental impact of a product or system over its entire life cycle, from raw material extraction to disposal or recycling. The goal of the LCA is to identify areas where improvements can be made to reduce the environmental impact of a product.
With regards to biopolymers, an LCA of biodegradable plastics can help to compare their environmental impact to that of conventional petroleum-based plastics. This can provide valuable information for decision-makers and help to determine if the use of biodegradable plastics is a more sustainable option. The LCA of biopolymers considers the entire lifecycle of the product, including the production of raw materials, production of the biopolymer, use of the biopolymer, and the disposal of the biopolymer after use. The results of the LCA can provide a comprehensive understanding of the environmental impact of biopolymers, including their potential benefits and drawbacks, and can help to inform future developments in this field.
Following the European Commission’s definition, “marine litter consists of items that have been deliberately discarded, unintentionally lost, or transported by winds and rivers into the sea and onto beaches. It consists of plastics, wood, metals, glass, rubber, clothing, and paper”. Marine debris originates from a variety of sources, but shipping and fishing activities are the predominant sea-based sources. Ineffectively managed landfills as well as public littering are major mainland-based sources. Marine litter can pose a threat to living organisms, especially due to potential ingestion or entanglement.
Currently, there is no international standard available to appropriately describe the biodegradation of plastics in the marine environment. However, a number of standardisation projects are currently being developed at ISO and ASTM level. Furthermore, the European project OPEN BIO addresses the marine biodegradation of biobased products.
Mass balance is the term for measuring and accounting for the flow of materials in a process or system. Mass balance is used to assess the life cycle of a bioplastic product, including the sources of the raw materials, the production process, and the end-of-life management. By tracking the mass of materials involved, a mass balance helps to ensure that the materials used in the production of bioplastics are sustainable, renewable, and do not contribute to environmental harm. For example, mass balance can be used to verify that the bioplastic product is made from a certain percentage of biobased materials, and that the same proportion is recycled or composted at the end of its life.
Oxo-(bio)degradable / oxo-degradable / oxo-fragmentable plastics
Oxo-(bio)degradable, oxo-degradable and/or oxo-fragmentable plastics are designed to break down into smaller pieces or fragments over time when exposed to environmental conditions such as heat, light, and humidity. They are often marketed as a solution to plastic waste and marine litter, but their environmental benefits are controversial.
Oxo-degradable plastics are not considered true bioplastics because they are not biodegradable and do not biodegrade into natural substances, but instead break down into smaller, potentially harmful parts that can persist in the environment. The use of oxo-degradable plastics can undermine the efforts to promote the use of truly sustainable and environmentally-friendly biopolymers.
Offsetting is the practice of balancing out emissions or environmental impacts by supporting environmental projects that reduce or remove an equivalent value of emissions elsewhere. When referring to biopolymers, offsetting can be used to mitigate the environmental impact of bioplastic production. For example, a company producing bioplastics may invest in renewable energy projects or carbon sequestration initiatives to offset the greenhouse gas emissions associated with its bioplastic production. The goal is to balance out the emissions produced during the production process with emissions reductions elsewhere, resulting in a net-zero impact on the environment.
Organic recycling refers to the process of breaking down and converting organic waste into compost, biogas, or other organic substances that can be used as a soil amendment or fertiliser. Organic recycling helps to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and also provides a source of renewable energy and organic matter for agriculture.
Organic recycling can help to reduce the environmental impact of plastic waste by breaking down biodegradable bioplastics into organic matter that can be reused in agriculture. This can help to close the material cycle and reduce the dependency on finite resources like fossil fuels. In addition to this, bioplastics made from biomass, like corn starch or sugarcane, can be sourced from crops grown specifically for use in bioplastics, rather than using crops grown for food, reducing competition for land use.
Product environmental footprint (PEF)
Product environmental footprint (PEF) is a method used to evaluate and compare the environmental impact of a product over its entire life cycle. PEF includes the entire supply chain, from the extraction of raw materials to the production and disposal of the product, and takes into account various environmental factors such as climate change, resource depletion, and pollution.
The PEF assessment of bioplastics can be used to determine the environmental impact of bioplastics compared to traditional petroleum-based plastics. The PEF assessment can help to identify areas where the use of biopolymers can have a positive impact on the environment, as well as areas where further improvement is needed. For example, the PEF assessment might show that bioplastics have a lower carbon footprint than traditional petroleum-based plastics, but that their production requires more land and water. The PEF assessment can be used to guide the development of biopolymers that have the lowest possible environmental impact.
Recyclable / recyclability
A material or product that can be collected, processed, and remanufactured into a new product after its original use is classed as Recyclable. The term “recyclability” refers to the ability of a material or product to be recycled.
Biodegradable plastics created from renewable resources such as corn starch, sugarcane, and potato starch are increasingly being developed as alternatives to traditional petroleum-based plastics. These biopolymers are typically recyclable, although the recycling infrastructure and processes for biodegradable plastics are not as well established as those for traditional petroleum-based plastics. As such, it’s important to consider the entire life cycle of biopolymers, including their end-of-life management, to determine their sustainability and environmental impact.
Recovery refers to the process of collecting and treating materials, such as biopolymers, that have been used or discarded, to re-use them as raw materials for new products. Biopolymers are made from renewable biological resources, such as crops, and are therefore considered a valuable source of raw materials for recovery.
Recovery of biopolymers can take many forms, including mechanical recycling, where the material is mechanically processed to produce new pellets or granules, or chemical recycling, where the material is chemically broken down into its constituent building blocks, which can then be used to produce new biopolymers.
The goal of recovery is to reduce waste, conserve resources, and reduce the environmental impact of material production and use. Biopolymers, due to their biodegradable and compostable properties, are particularly well suited for recovery processes, as they can be broken down into their constituent components through natural processes, reducing the need for energy-intensive mechanical or chemical processes.
Renewable feedstock refers to resources that can be replenished over a relatively short period of time, such as crops, trees, or waste material, in contrast to non-renewable feedstocks like fossil fuels.
The use of renewable feedstocks in biopolymer production can reduce the dependency on non-renewable resources, as well as contribute to a more sustainable and circular economy by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and waste generation. Additionally, biopolymers made from renewable feedstocks have a lower environmental impact compared to conventional petrochemical-based plastics, as they are biodegradable, compostable, or recyclable.
Using resources in an efficient and sustainable manner is typically known as Resource Efficiency. This includes minimising waste, reducing the consumption of raw materials, and optimising the use of resources in production processes.
Resource efficiency is important because the production of biopolymers typically requires the use of renewable resources such as plant-based materials, rather than non-renewable resources like petroleum. By producing biopolymers in a resource-efficient manner, it is possible to reduce the consumption of raw materials and minimise waste, leading to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly production process. Additionally, the use of biopolymers can also contribute to resource efficiency throughout their life cycle, as they are biodegradable and can be composted, reducing the need for additional resource consumption for waste management.
Separate collection is the process of separating different waste materials from each other based on their composition and properties. This is done to facilitate more efficient and effective recycling and waste management. When recycling biopolymers, separate collection ensures that biodegradable plastics can be properly composted or recycled, and that they do not end up in the general waste stream where they can cause environmental problems. By collecting biodegradable plastics separately, they can be directed to specialised composting or recycling facilities where they can be processed into new biopolymers or other products. This can help to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and increase the overall sustainability of the waste management system.
Standardisation refers to the process of establishing and maintaining uniform technical specifications and practices for products, services, or systems. With respect to biopolymers, standardisation refers to the development of common technical specifications and standards that apply to biopolymers and their applications.
Standardisation helps to ensure that biopolymers meet certain quality and performance criteria, which in turn helps to promote their widespread use and acceptance by consumers, businesses, and governments. For example, standardisation may include specifications for the properties of biopolymers, such as their biodegradability, biobased content, and performance characteristics, as well as guidelines for their safe and responsible use within various applications.
By establishing standards and technical specifications for biopolymers, standardisation can help to promote the development of new and innovative applications for these materials and can encourage investment in research and development to further improve their performance and sustainability.
The procurement of materials and resources must be sourced in a way that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In the context of biopolymers, sustainable sourcing refers to the sourcing of raw materials for biopolymer production from renewable, non-food sources and avoiding materials from sources with negative environmental impacts, such as deforestation, habitat destruction, and resource depletion.
In addition, sustainable sourcing of biopolymer raw materials should also consider ethical and social aspects, such as fair labour practices, safe working conditions, and the rights of local communities. The goal of sustainable sourcing is to ensure that the production of biopolymers has minimal negative impact on the environment and society and contributes to a more sustainable future.
The ability to maintain and support a particular level of environmental, social, and economic well-being for present and future generations is known as Sustainability. With regards to biopolymers, sustainability is a key concern due to the impact that the production and disposal of plastics has on the environment. Biopolymers offer a more sustainable alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastics as they are made from renewable resources and are biodegradable or compostable, reducing their impact on the environment. Additionally, biopolymers can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as they are often made from crops that absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow. Therefore, biopolymers can play a role in promoting sustainability by reducing the environmental footprint of the plastics industry.Top of Form
The waste hierarchy is a framework that prioritises the various solutions for managing waste. It ranks the most environmentally preferable waste management options in order of priority, with the ultimate goal being a reduction in the amount of waste generated at the start of the process. The waste hierarchy typically consists of the following steps:
- Prevention: This involves reducing the amount of waste generated through measures such as product design, production processes, and consumer behaviour.
- Reuse: Reusing products and materials as much as possible before they become waste.
- Recycling: Processing waste materials into new products, thereby extending their life and conserving resources.
- Recovery: Using waste as a source of energy, for example, by burning it in incineration plants to generate electricity or heat.
- Disposal: This is the last resort and involves disposing of waste in landfills or through other means.
The waste hierarchy can be applied to bioplastics as well. The goal is to minimise the amount of bioplastics that become waste, and to ensure that when they do, they are managed in an environmentally responsible manner. This may involve designing bioplastics products that can be reused or recycled or ensuring that they are processed in ways that maximise their recovery and minimise their environmental impact. Additionally, ensuring that bioplastics are sourced sustainably and produced in an environmentally responsible manner can help to further reduce their impact on the environment.
FAQs about the NIRI Biopolymer Glossary
What is the NIRI Biopolymer Glossary?
The NIRI Biopolymer Glossary is an extensive list of terms and definitions related to Biopolymers. It provides definitions of biodegradable, compostable, and biobased plastics, as well as terms related to production, processing, and disposal.
Who can benefit from the NIRI Biopolymer Glossary?
The NIRI Biopolymer Glossary is beneficial for students, researchers, professionals, and anyone interested in Biopolymers. It provides a comprehensive understanding of the terms and definitions used in the industry, helping you stay up to date with the latest advancements in Biopolymers.
What types of Biopolymers are covered in the NIRI Biopolymer Glossary?
The NIRI Biopolymer Glossary covers biodegradable, compostable, and biobased plastics, as well as terms related to production, processing, and disposal. It includes definitions of various types of biobased plastics, including polylactic acid (PLA) and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA).
How often is the NIRI Biopolymer Glossary updated?
The NIRI Biopolymer Glossary is regularly updated to ensure that the information is up-to-date and relevant. This helps to keep the industry informed about the latest advancements and changes in Biopolymers.
Is the NIRI Biopolymer Glossary free to access?
Yes, the NIRI Biopolymer Glossary is freely accessible on the NIRI website www.nonwovens-innovation.com.