Renewable polymers and plastics: performance beyond the green.

Alessandro Pellis, Mario Malinconico, Alice Guarneri, Lucia Gardossi

New Biotechnology, 2021, 60, 146-158. DOI: 10.1016/j.nbt.2020.10.003



Renewable bio-based polymers are one of the effective answers that the bioeconomy offers to solve the environmental emergency connected to plastics and more specifically fossil-based plastics. Previous studies have shown that more than 70 % of the natural capital cost associated with plastic derives from the extraction and processing of fossil raw materials and that the price of fossil plastic would be on average 44 % higher if such impact was fully paid by businesses. The disclosure of the hidden costs of plastics will contribute to dispelling the myth of the expensiveness of renewable polymers. Nevertheless, the adoption of bio-based plastics in the market must be motivated by their functional properties and not merely by their green credentials. This article highlights some successful examples of synergies between chemistry and biotechnology in achieving a new generation of bio-based monomers and polymers. Their success is justified by the combination of scientific advances with positive environmental and social fallouts.