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Bio-based plastics

Materials and applications
: Kabasci, Stephan


Chichester: Wiley, 2014, XIX, 367 S.
Wiley series in renewable resources, 11
ISBN: 978-1-119-99400-8 (Print)
ISBN: 978-1-118-67664-6 (Online)
Fraunhofer UMSICHT Oberhausen ()
bioplastics; renewable resource; cellulose acetate

This introductory chapter gives an overview of definitions, history and the market aspects of bio-based plastics. There is an unambiguous definition of ‘bio-based plastics’, i.e. plastics derived from biomass, but the commonly used term ‘bioplastics’ may cause confusion: the prefix ‘bio-’ is not only used to indicate the origin of the material (‘bio-based’) but also to express a ‘bio’-functionality of the material, either biodegradability or biocompatibility. In the early stages of the historical development of plastics, a lot of thermosets, elastomers and some thermoplastics were first developed on the basis of renewable resources. An outstanding example of such an historical bio-based material is celluloid, a thermoplastic that was introduced in 1868 as a result of a contest for the development of a substitute material for ivory to produce billiard balls. Other historical bio-based materials include elastomers based on natural rubber and linoleum, a thermoset. After 1950, some decades of massive growth in production of fossil-based plastics followed and these materials have since dominated the plastics world. Starting in the 1990s and resulting from an awareness of the need to replace fossil-based materials, bio-based plastics came to a renaissance with production capacities surpassing 1 million tons in 2011. Several market studies foresee that the trend for a massive increase in bioplastics production will continue.