What is bioplastic? Can it substitute conventional plastic?

27 Sep, 2022

Are you looking for a good, eco-friendly alternative for traditional plastic packaging? Discover why it’s worth to invest in bioplastic packaging!

What you’ll learn from this article:

  • What is bioplastic?
  • Which materials can be used to make it?
  • What can it be used for?
  • What are the advantages of bioplastic?
  • How to differentiate it from traditional plastic?

Why should be substitute plastic?

Zanieczyszcznie środowiska plastikiem

The well-known plastic is a foundation of nowadays’ economy owing to its various characteristics and features. This material enables creating products that meet all the customers’ needs. However, it also has some characteristics that make it harmful to the environment:

  • Petroleum, a non-renewable resource, is often used in the production process;
  • Its degradation can last hundreds of years, often it’s even impossible;
  • It’s made from petrochemical resources

    For these reasons plastic is the main cause of environment pollution. Plastic pollution has catastrophic effects not only for mother nature, but also for health and life of us, humans. It’s hugely responsible for greenhouse gases emission and negatively impacts the state of water, soil and air.

    This is exactly why we should do our best to lower the usage of this material. How can we achieve it?

    What is bioplastic?

    For some time now people have been talking something called bioplastic. The name might make us think that it’s an eco-friendly version of traditional plastic. However, it’s not so obvious. The meaning of this name is far wider, which, unfortunately, can confuse customers.

    First of all, it has to be stressed that bioplastic is not one specific material. In reality, a lot of materials go under this name, although their “eco-friendliness” depends on the way they are produced and what resources were used to make it.

    The most popular definition of bioplastic is that of materials which are biodegradable and/or come from renewable resources. As you can see, this definition shows that not every bioplastic can undergo the process of composting nor are all produced from renewable resources [1].

    Unfortunately, this means that not every type of this material is 100% eco-friendly. Some are e.g. made with help of fossil resources, while some can’t undergo biodegradation – when they become waste, they pose the same danger as regular plastic.

    Is bioplastic eco-friendly?

    Taking into consideration the fact that so many materials can be counted as bioplastic, we shouldn’t generalise the matter.

    Bioplastic can be divided into three groups:

    1. Bioplastic made from renewable resources that aren’t biodegradable;
    2. Bioplastic made from renewable resources that are biodegradable;
    3. Plastic made from fossil resources that are biodegradable [2].

      In the light of environment protection, the best alternative for traditional plastic is bioplastic from the second group. They are fully eco-friendly while retaining the same characteristics as normal plastic.

      It’s produced from natural and biodegradable materials of plant origin such as sugar cane, potato starch or cellulose from trees and straw.

      Its production leaves lower carbon footprint, doesn’t require using fossil resources and helps reduce greenhouse gases emission such as carbon dioxide.

      However, the most important matter is that it can undergo the process of composting, which means that after serving its purpose, it won’t end up as useless and toxic waste in the environment. Instead, it will decompose to natural substances such as water, carbon dioxide and biohummus, an organic material which is rich in various nutrients that can be naturally found in soil.

      Will bioplastic replace regular plastic?

      Unfortunately, bioplastic hasn’t become popular yet. They constitute around 1% of all plastic [2]. Though, when we look at EU constantly taking action to eliminate, or at least limit the usage of plastic on its ground, replacement of this material with bioplastic might just be a matter of time. 

      Bioplastik, alternatywy dla tworzyw sztucznych

      Law is becoming more and more strict about this issue. In 2018 EU adopted so-called waste package, which is an amendment of the key directives regarding waste management.

      One of the most important Eu decisions is that regarding reducing the influence of some plastic products on the environment – Single-Use Plastics directive, which bans selling single-use products made from plastic such as straws, stirrers, cutlery, cups, plates etc.

      In Poland, it took effect in 2021. This is just the beginning of the battle against plastic in the EU, but the plans for it are massive. One of the most crucial regulation introduced by the SUP directive is about reducing the usage of single-use cups and food containers.

      Bioplastic and packaging branch

      More and more is spoken about the necessity of developing the branch of eco-friendly packaging which won’t worsen the problem of environmental pollution. Bioplastic is a perfect solution. Nowadays, there are bioplastic alternatives for basically every product made from traditional product.

      The possibilities of using bioplastic in the packaging branch are so vast nowadays that everyone will find a product that meets the needs. What you can find in the bioplastic packages offer? Boxes, single-use food containers, bags, poly mailers, bubble wraps, tapes, labels and many more.

      Advantages of bioplastic

      Why is it worth to invest in bioplastic packages?

      • First of all, unlike regular packaging from traditional plastic, bioplastic can undergo the process of composting, owing to which they won’t pollute the environment;
      • Production of bioplastic packaging is characterised by lower carbon footprint, which makes it more climate-friendly;
      • It has the same features as regular plastic: it’s light, waterproof, safe and flexible;
      • It makes your products and company look eco;
      • They live up to your clients’ expectations. According to a study, Almost 1/3 Polish customers has stopped buying certain brands’ products because their packages weren’t eco-friendly.

      How to differentiate between bioplastic and traditional plastic?

      Since products made from bioplastic are illusively similar to those made from regular plastic, there is a huge problem on how to tell them apart.

      A lot of producents use green colour or the symbol of a leaf that proves nothing in order to make their packaging look eco-friendly. It’s just a marketing gimmick which aim at making the product more attractive. More often than not it’s used to enable putting a higher price. So, how not to get fooled?

      Certificates to the rescue

      Whether a package is eco-friendly or not can proved by certificates issued by independent certification institutions.

      Certificates that prove given material was made from natural resources and can undergo composting process in industrial conditions is EN 13432 for the EU and ASTM D6400 for the USA. For those packages that can be composted at home there is a certificate OK compost HOME.

      There are a few certification institutions as well as types of certificates, but the most important thing is that the materials are examined in a specific manner. This way, we can be sure that the given product is eco-friendly.

      Bioplastic and ZNIKA’s packaging

      Every product ZNIKA offers are made from 100% natural plant-based materials. They are biodegradable and compostable, which is proved by the most renowned certificates globally, e.g. TÜV Austria ‘OK Compost”. In this case, decomposition takes a few weeks, not hundreds of years.

      ZNIKA is an answer to the demands of those companies that want to take a step further into sustainable business and replace materials harmful to the environment with biodegradable natural ones.


      1. Teraz Środowisko, Biotworzywa. Nieśmiały trend czy konieczność, której nie uniknie przemysł?
      2. European Bioplastics, BIOPLASTICS facts and figures

      Zamów ekologiczną taśmę klejącą

      Czy wiesz że jedna trzecia polskich klientów przyznaje, że całkowicie zaprzestała kupowania określonych marek, ponieważ ich opakowania nie były przyjazne dla środowiska?