Bio-based Materials and Sustainability

An important characteristic of biobased materials will be their sustainability. The first difference with fossil based materials is the use of renewable resources. The use of plant and/or microbial sources can avoid this problem, as long as the life cycle of the biobased material can be closed. Fossil based materials are dumped in land-fills or burnt to generate CO2 and water. This means that eventually the source for most currently used polymers will be depleted. Moreover, dumping leads to catastrophic waste problems and burning fossil carbon leads to CO2 emissions that cause (further) global climate change. Circular economy developments try to reduce the waste problem by introducing re-use and recycling strategies. Biobased materials however, have additional potential for further waste prevention strategies, like biodegradation to inputs for future processes. Biobased materials are however not intrinsically sustainable. The biomass feedstock, manufacturing process, interdependency with other product value chains, recycling and waste scenarios play an important role in the level of sustainability. Therefore, it is important to assess the sustainability of the current materials and the biobased alternatives to truly contribute to a more sustainable world by developing biobased materials


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