Renewable resources (bioplastics)

Plastics from renewable resources

Plastics from renewable resources include bio-based plastics and renewable attributed plastics. Bio-based plastics are made partly or wholly from renewable biological resources, while renewable-attributed plastics are plastics to which the use of renewable feedstock has been attributed through a fully transparent and third-party auditable mass-balance approach.

Bio-based plastics can be:

conventional non-biodegradable polymers, whose monomers have been produced from biomass, such as polyethylene made from sugar cane derived ethylene or polyamide made from castor oil

special biodegradable polymers, which can decompose under the action of microorganisms. Examples of polymers include those made from starch, sugar cane, etc., include polylactic acid (PLA) or polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs).


Plastics made from sustainably sourced, renewable resources can contribute to the efficient use of resources by decoupling economic growth from the consumption of finite resources. Moreover, it may contribute to reducing the overall GHG emissions through the ability of renewable resources to capture CO2 from the atmosphere and maintain it, stored along the entire product life cycle, including end-of-life, thus reducing the final product’s carbon footprint from cradle-to-grave. Finally, the biodegradable characteristics of some polymers offer tangible advantages in specific applications.

Further reading

What are bioplastics?
Mass balance approach to accelerate the use of renewable feedstocks in chemical processes (January 2020)