Plastics, made from plants? The bio-based economy makes it possible. It is the field of study of Yvonne van der Meer, professor of Sustainability of Chemicals and Materials. This Friday, she will be a keynote speaker at our Workplace on circular economy. And that doesn’t just mean recycling our existing products, she says in this interview.
Bioplastics have been made from plants for some time now. The main reason is to reduce the climate impact of plastics: after all, you are switching from a fossil product, made from oil, to a product that comes from nature. Such a natural product also contains CO2, but this has only recently been removed from the atmosphere and that does not lead to additional CO2 emissions in the long term.
Sounds logical. However, bioplastics can also have negative properties, says Van der Meer: “For example, you need fertilisers and water to grow plants. Also, there is more competition with biofuels and this creates scarcity in land use. Not to even mention the food scarcity.” This all leads to a major discussion, to which Van der Meer contributes through science: what are actually suitable organic raw materials for bioplastics? “We have now agreed that we should not use food crops for this.”