Impact of Bioplastic Use on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Throughout the past several years, researchers have been trying to understand the positive and negative effects of the implementation of bioplastics into an industrial and commercial setting. The analysis of greenhouse gas emissions of bioplastics compared to oil-based plastics will help to determine if a conversion is necessary to draw down greenhouse gases. This study investigates the life-cycle assessment (LCA) of bioplastics and oil-based plastics and the emissions associated with the production and degradation processes. Life-cycle assessments were compiled from published literature using online resources. Researchers have reported that bioplastics produce fewer carbon-based greenhouse gas emissions than any currently-used plastic when looking at production and degradation cycles. However, when looking at the amount of carbon-based emissions to provide materials for feedstock, carbon-based emissions are significantly increased. Additionally, bioplastics have been reported to have larger impacts on acidification and eutrophication, resulting in negative impacts on the environment. Future use of bioplastics should consider these tradeoffs in environmental impact. For future analysis, an experiment could be designed to analyze the full degradation cycles of bioplastics and oil-based plastics to determine the total amount of emissions each material gives off during degradation.

Monday Poster Session
Benjamin Sekely
Related Conference Themes
Materials & Waste