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Biopolymers (bio-based plastics) – An overview (JCH Industrial Ecology Ltd)

This overview of biopolymers by Professor Callum Hill of JCH Industrial Ecology Ltd was commissioned to inform the Committee on Climate Change’s 2018 report on the role of Biomass in a low-carbon economy. The report lays out the current and projected market share, production capacity and carbon sequestration potential of polymers derived from biogenic (photosynthetic) sources.

The key findings of the report were:

  • The evidence of climate benefits of bioplastics is limited; there is therefore a risk that limited resources may be diverted away from uses which give greater benefits such as wood in construction and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage.
  • There is considerable uncertainty around the end of life fate of biopolymers and the extent to which resources could be recovered, especially if landfill is considered an option.