SHOULD WE DEVELOP A BIO-ECONOMY FOR BIOPLASTICS?

To develop the full market potential of green products and technologies like bioplastics, a global strategy needs to be mandatory. In the USA the capitalistic system prevented the market to develop and the few companies that survived are all ailing and do represent insignificant numbers on the polymer market.

The problem is that the price of plastic is highly dependent of the price of oil and very few are willing to pay a premium for a “green product”. Innovation in chemicals comes at a price and the rules are not fair. What is the real price of plastic/oil? Should we take into consideration the cost of our foreign policy and our Defense budget….as it was suggested by the Environment Defense Fund then bioplastics can compete but at $40 a barrel of oil, bioplastics will continue to be a novelty or the Administration needs to step in, like the EU is doing setting up a global agenda for the European Union.

The European Commission initiated the “Europe 2020” strategy which calls for the support of sustainable and innovative economic development.

Under the umbrella of “Europe 2020”, several strategies have been developed by the EU that play a pivotal role establishing bioplastics as significant driver for more sustainable economic development. The EU Commission determined bio-based products to be of high societal and economic interest and identified bioplastics as a main driver. This policy will create green jobs and will drastically improve the environment but are we ready in the USA to follow an Administration with stringent rules or are we expecting the Market to rule the environment. So far the Market has prevented bioplastics to flourish in spite of a lot of efforts and good will.

In the event the EPA and the Administration would wake up to the risks we are incurring, here are some of the advantages to create a Bio-Economy Strategy:

  • Less dependency on limited fossil resources
  • Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
  • Sustainable industrial production
  • Improvement in recovery and recycling options
  • Lowering toxicity
  • Increased biodegradability or compostability of organic waste
  • Less resource-intensive production (water, energy, waste)
  • Potentially improved population health
  • Support of rural development
  • Increased industrial competitiveness through innovative eco-efficient biobased products.
  • Hopefully rationale will kick in and we will realize that cleaning up Oceans may end up being very expensive after all..

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