Biochemicals - Sustainable material as an alternative to plastic packaging?

Plastic packaging has come under criticism, but how valuable are biological and organic alternatives from Biochemicals really?

Biochemicals

Author: House of Eden

  • Biochemicals as an alternative to plastic packaging
  • Biochemicals are biodegradable and recyclable
  • However, bioplastics are energy-intensive to produce

Plastic packaging and plastic waste have led to massive environmental pollution and habitat destruction for many animals in recent decades - many people are familiar with images of beaches covered in trash or the staggering amount of plastic in the ocean that can resemble a small island. Animals suffer from these conditions - every year around 100.000 marine animals get caught in plastic waste, such as bags or packaging closures, and can no longer free themselves from it. The number of marine animals dying from plastic waste is even around 100 million per year.

Can biochemicals be an alternative to plastic packaging?

Biochemicals are biochemical compounds found in living organisms and involved in multiple processes of living cells. So they can be organic molecules such as proteins, enzymes or lipids, but also minerals or vitamins. Their function in the organisms in which they occur is primarily energy storage and production, signal transmission and the maintenance of physical structure.

Biochemicals can become important for the food industry insofar as they are intended to represent an alternative to plastic packaging. These are made from renewable resources such as cellulose and are designed to protect the environment by being biodegradable and recyclable. They are also said to be less harmful to health than conventional plastic packaging.

What are the problems with Biochemicals?

More and more consumers are paying attention to buying sustainable products. So while biochemicals are gaining ground as an alternative in the food industry, they are not the panacea they claim to be - at least not yet. The production of biochemicals is still very energy-intensive.

So while on the one hand, they cause less waste and thus protect the environment, they currently influence the environment in another way due to their high energy consumption during production. It will take time and further progress in research before biochemicals can be a real alternative to plastic packaging.

Is bioplastic packaging an alternative instead?

A popular alternative to plastic packaging among consumers is bioplastic. They are closely related to Biochemicals as they are often made from biochemical molecules such as starch. The advantages over conventional plastic are obvious:

  • Bioplastics are biodegradable
  • Bioplastic can be recycled
  • Manufacturing is more environmentally friendly by using renewable resources

However, the term bioplastic is not uniformly defined. Bioplastics only have to meet one of the requirements - i.e. they can be produced organically but still not be biodegradable, or vice versa. So while bioplastics can be a good alternative to conventional plastic, this does not automatically apply to all bioplastics.

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