Replacing fossil based plastic performance products by bio-based plastic products-Technical feasibility

Martien van den Oever*, Karin Molenveld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Larger scale market introduction of new bio-based products requires a clear advantage regarding sustainability, as well as an adequate techno-economic positioning relative to fossil based products. In a previous paper [Broeren et al., 2016], LCA results per kg and per functionality equivalent of bio-based plastics were presented, together with economic considerations. The present paper discusses the mechanical and thermal properties of a range of commercially available bio-based plastics based on polylactic acid (PLA), cellulose esters, starch and polyamides, and the feasibility of replacing fossil-based counterparts based on performance. The evaluation is approached from an end user perspective. First, potentially suitable bio-based plastics are selected based on manufacturers' specifications in technical data sheets, then a first experimental evaluation is performed on injection moulded ISO specimens, and finally a further selection of plastics is tested on large 50. ×. 70. cm panels. This technical feasibility study indicates that so far bio-based plastics do not completely match the properties of high performance materials like flame retardant V-0 PC/ABS blends used in electronic devices. The performance gap is being decreased by the development of stereocomplex PLA and hybrid PLA blends with polycarbonate, which offer clearly improved properties with respect to maximum usage temperature and toughness. In addition, several materials meet the V-0 flammability requirements needed in specific durable applications. On the other hand, improving these properties so far has negative consequences for the bio-based content. This study also shows that replacement of bulk polymers like PS is feasible using PLA compounds with a bio-based content as high as 85%.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-59
JournalNew Biotechnology
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Bio-based plastics
  • Durable applications
  • Fossil plastics
  • Performance

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