Bioplastics to Replace Fossil-Based Plastics—Perspectives for a Circular Economy

A special issue of Polymers (ISSN 2073-4360). This special issue belongs to the section "Biomacromolecules, Biobased and Biodegradable Polymers".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2024 | Viewed by 2044

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Engineering, University of Messina, 98122 Messina, ME, Italy
Interests: polymers; biopolymers; composite/nanocomposite polymer based; polymer characterization
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Engineering, University of Messina, Contrada Di Dio, 98166 Messina, Italy
Interests: biomaterials; plastic and metals; physical and mechanical characterization; laser welding
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

Biodegradable bioplastics from renewable sources, or bioplastic-based biocomposites, are emerging as a promising alternative to traditional fossil-based plastics. Biocomposites, in fact, degrade rapidly in the soil compared to plastics of fossil origin (whose disposal requires hundreds or even thousands of years), contributing to the global effort to mitigate the environmental pollution caused by plastic and encouraging the transition from a linear to a circular economy.

Since traditional plastic materials of fossil origin are among the most widespread materials in the world due to their high versatility of use, technical characteristics, lightness and low price but poor biodegradabillity, they accumulate inexorably in the environment, causing the now well-known environmental pollution problems. The circular economy (with all the directives at the European and global levels) pushes toward radical change in the production and management of plastic materials to achieve zero waste production and environmentally sustainable management cycles.

Biodegradable polymers represent a valid alternative to polymers of fossil origin; however, they struggle with implementation due to the limited availability of raw materials and their high price.

This Special Issue focuses on biopolymers and all biocomposites used for this purpose and on all related aspects, ranging from material composition, biodegradation and regulatory aspects to the characterization, application and recycling possibilities of bioplastics.

Prof. Dr. Annamaria Visco
Dr. Cristina Scolaro
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • bioplastics
  • composite bioplastics
  • directives and legislation on the use of bioplastics
  • biodegradation
  • workability
  • physical–mechanical characterization
  • applications
  • recycling of bioplastics

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

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11 pages, 1867 KiB  
Article
Biobased Films Based on Chitosan and Microcrystalline Cellulose for Sustainable Packaging Applications
by Erika Alessia Di Liberto and Nadka Tzankova Dintcheva
Polymers 2024, 16(5), 568; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym16050568 - 20 Feb 2024
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Abstract
The transition to a more sustainable lifestyle requires a move away from petroleum-based sources and the investigation and funding of renewable and waste feedstocks to provide biobased sustainable materials. The formulation of films based on chitosan and microcrystalline cellulose with potential applications in [...] Read more.
The transition to a more sustainable lifestyle requires a move away from petroleum-based sources and the investigation and funding of renewable and waste feedstocks to provide biobased sustainable materials. The formulation of films based on chitosan and microcrystalline cellulose with potential applications in the packaging sector has been demonstrated. Glycerol is also used as a plasticizer in the formulation of flexible films, while mucic acid is used as a valid alternative to acetic acid in such films. The film based on chitosan, microcrystalline cellulose, glycerol, and mucic acid shows properties and a performance similar to those of the film formulated with acetic acid, and, in addition, it seems that the photo-oxidation resistance of the film based on mucic acid is better than that of the material containing acetic acid. The films were characterized using spectroscopy (FTIR and UV-vis), tensile testing, water contact angle measurements, surface observations, and photo-oxidation resistance measurements. The presence of microcrystalline cellulose enhances the mechanical behavior, UV barrier properties, and surface hydrophobicity of the film. The feasibility of formulating chitosan-based films, with or without microcrystalline cellulose, which exhibit good properties and performances is demonstrated. Mucic acid instead of acetic acid is used in the formulation of these film. Full article
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Review

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35 pages, 5010 KiB  
Review
Macroalgae Bioplastics: A Sustainable Shift to Mitigate the Ecological Impact of Petroleum-Based Plastics
by Nehal E. Elkaliny, Nurah M. Alzamel, Shaaban H. Moussa, Nour I. Elodamy, Engy A. Madkor, Esraa M. Ibrahim, Mostafa E. Elshobary and Gehan A. Ismail
Polymers 2024, 16(9), 1246; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym16091246 - 29 Apr 2024
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Abstract
The surge in global utilization of petroleum-based plastics, which notably heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic, has substantially increased its harm to ecosystems. Considering the escalating environmental impact, a pivotal shift towards bioplastics usage is imperative. Exploring and implementing bioplastics as a viable alternative [...] Read more.
The surge in global utilization of petroleum-based plastics, which notably heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic, has substantially increased its harm to ecosystems. Considering the escalating environmental impact, a pivotal shift towards bioplastics usage is imperative. Exploring and implementing bioplastics as a viable alternative could mitigate the ecological burden posed by traditional plastics. Macroalgae is a potential feedstock for the production of bioplastics due to its abundance, fast growth, and high cellulose and sugar content. Researchers have recently explored various methods for extracting and converting macroalgae into bioplastic. Some of the key challenges in the production of macroalgae bioplastics are the high costs of large-scale production and the need to optimize the extraction and conversion processes to obtain high-quality bioplastics. However, the potential benefits of using macroalgae for bioplastic production include reducing plastic waste and greenhouse gas emissions, using healthier materials in various life practices, and developing a promising area for future research and development. Also, bioplastic provides job opportunities in free enterprise and contributes to various applications such as packaging, medical devices, electronics, textiles, and cosmetics. The presented review aims to discuss the problem of petroleum-based plastic, bioplastic extraction from macroalgae, bioplastic properties, biodegradability, its various applications, and its production challenges. Full article
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