Biobased Content

What is Bioplastic?

Bio-basedThe term ‘bioplastics’ is often used for a group of different materials based on biomass or the biodegradable character of a plastic. (However, it is important to note that these two aspects of a plastic – bio-based & bio-degradable – are not synonymous). Bio-based plastic is a class of plastics which contain organic carbon of renewable origin in part or whole which are derived from plant-biomass (the biomass can have undergone physical, chemical or biological treatment) like:

  • Agricultural crops and residues
  • Marine and forestry materials
  • Bio-waste
  • Algae, fungi, etc.

And, the bio-based content of plastics is defined as the % of renewable carbon (i.e. of vegetal origin) over the total carbon content of the material considered bio-based.
Bio-based Carbon Formula
It is measured via the 14C method that adheres to CEN/TS 16137 or ASTM 6866 standard.

Continue Reading or Check Out More on Bio-based Content:

 » Bio-based Content for Several Plastics
 » Different Types of Bioplastics
 » Bio-based Labels, Standards and Certifications

Different Types of Bioplastics

Bio-based plastics can contribute to lowering

  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Demand for fossil resources but contribute to increased use of natural resources

Bio-based plastics are not necessarily biodegradable/compostable and
all biodegradable-compostable plastics are not automatically bio-based

Type of Plastic Grade Petrochemical-derived Partly Bio-based Bio-based
Non-Biodegradable PE, PP, PET, PS, PVC Bio-PET, PTT bio-PET, bio-PE, PEF, bio-PP, bio-PAs
Biodegradable PBAT, PBS(A), PCL, PVA Starch Blends PLA, PHA

 » Understand Biodegradability of Plastics in Detail Here!

Pathways to bio-based Polymers 
Pathways to Bio-based Polymers 
(Click on Image to Enlarge)
(Credit: nova-Institut)
Some of the important bio-based feedstocks and the polymers that can be produced using these feedstocks:

  • Sugarcane: PLA, PHAs, bio-PBS(A), bio-PET, bio-PE, PEF, bio-PP, bio-PAs, PTT
  • Sugarbeet: PLA, PHAs, bio-PBS(A), bio-PET, bio-PE, PEF, bio-PP, bio-PAs, PTT
  • Corn: PLA, PHAs, starch blends, bio-PBS(A), bio-PE, PEF, bio-PP, bio-PAs, PTT
  • Potato: PLA, PHAs, starch blends, bio-PBS(A), bio-PE, PEF, bio-PP, bio-PAs, PTT
  • Wheat: PLA, PHAs, starch blends, bio-PBS(A), bio-PE, PEF, bio-PP, bio-PAs, PTT
  • Castor seed oil: bio-PAs
  • Biomass: PBAT, PBS

 » Select the Suitable "Bio-based" Plastic Grade Meeting your Requirement

Bio-based Labels, Standards and Certifications

Existing standards of measuring bio-based content (refers to bio-based carbon content) using 14C content measurement are:

  • The European norm EN 16785-1 "Bio-based products – Bio-based content - Part 1: Determination of the bio-based content using the radiocarbon analysis and elemental analysis"
  • The European standard, EN 16640, 2015. Bio-based products - Bio-based carbon content - Determination of the bio-based carbon content using the radiocarbon method
  • The American standard ASTM D6866 “Standard Test Methods for Determining the Bio-based Content of Solid, Liquid, and Gaseous Samples Using Radiocarbon Analysis”
  • The ISO standard ISO 16620-4:2016 Plastics – Bio-based content - Part 4: Determination of bio-based mass content

(Of course, there exist several other methods as well, but they are not discussed here)

In the polymer industry, this approach is widely used as a fast and reliable protocol for assessment of the “bio-based” content at different stages of the industrial process, such as:

  • The control of the raw materials
  • The optimization of the synthesis process
  • The certification of ready-to-market products, as well as
  • The control of the bio-content in products already on the market

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ASTM D6866 and USDA BioPreferred Program

The bio-based carbon content of products is determined independently and unequivocally using radio carbon analysis as codified in international standard ASTM D6866.

It is the most widely used test method to assess the pMC (percentage of Modern Carbon which means of vegetal origin) vs the fossil carbon content. It uses radiocarbon (C14) content detection techniques.

This standard utilizes two methods to quantify the bio-based content of a given product:

  • Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) along with Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS); or
  • Liquid Scintillation Counters (LSC) using sample carbon that has been converted to benzene

USDA Certified Bio-based Product label certification program, which is voluntary, determines product and package bio-based content for participants worldwide; it uses a process that requires independent laboratory testing according to ASTM D6866.

USDA Certified Bio-based Product Label

CEN European Standards/Specifications for Bio based Products

The technical specifications of measuring bio-based content - CEN/TS 16640, CEN/TS 16137 and CEN/TS 16295 – are released by European Committee for Standardization (CEN) Technical Committee:

  • CEN/TS 16295 – Declaration of the Bio-based Carbon Content of Plastics
  • CEN/TS 16137 – Measuring the Bio-based Carbon Content of Plastics
  • CEN/TS 16640:2014 Bio-based products. Determination of the bio-based carbon content of products using the radiocarbon method

These three technical specifications are based on radiocarbon analyses. CEN/TS 16640 is applicable to all bio-based products whereas CEN/TS 16295 & CEN/TS 16137 are only applicable to plastics and polymers.

The bio-based carbon content in a material can be measured according to e.g. ISO 16620-4 or EN 16640. The bio-based content of a material can be determined with EN 16785-1.

The EN 16640 standard expresses the carbon as a percentage of total carbon
The ASTM D6866 standard as a percentage of total organic carbon

Few examples of labels to indicate bio-based content of material:

Bio-based Labels

Bio-based Content for Several Plastics

Click to find polymer you are looking for:
A-C     |      PA-PL     |      PS-X

Polymer Name Min Value (%) Max Value (%)
Bio Polyether Block Amide, PEBA(28-32%renewable carbon) 28.0 32.0
Bio PEBA(44-48% renewable carbon) 44.0 48.0
Bio PEBA(62-66% renewable carbon) 62.0 66.0
Bio PEBA(77-81% renewable carbon) 77.0 81.0
Bio PEBA(87-91% renewable carbon) 87.0 91.0
Bio PEBA(93-97% renewable carbon) 93.0 97.0
CA - Cellulose Acetate 100.0 100.0
CAB - Cellulose Acetate Butyrate 100.0 100.0
CP - Cellulose Proprionate 100.0 100.0
PA 11 - (Polyamide 11) 30% Glass fiber reinforced 100.0 100.0
PA 11, Conductive 100.0 100.0
PA 11, Flexible 100.0 100.0
PA 11, Rigid 100.0 100.0
PCL - Polycaprolactone 0.0 0.0
PE/TPS Blend - Polyethylene/Thermoplastic Starch 0.00 39.0
PGA - Polyglycolides 100.0 100.0
PHB - Polyhydroxybutyrate 100.0 100.0
Poly(hydroxybutyrate - co- valerate) PHB-V(5% valerate) 100.0 100.0
PLA - Polylactide, Fiber Melt Spinning 100.0 100.0
PLA, Heat Seal Layer 100.0 100.0
PLA, High Heat Films 100.0 100.0
PLA,injection molding 100.0 100.0
PLA, Spunbond 100.0 100.0
PLA, Stretch blow molded bottles 100.0 100.0
TPS/PE BLend - Thermoplastic Starch/ Polyethylene Blend (30 micron films tested) 40.0 59.0
TPS, Injection General Purpose 100.0 100.0
TPS, Water Resistant 100.0 100.0

Commercially Available Bio-based Plastic Grades

 » Understand Biodegradability of Plastics in Detail Here!

Disclaimer: all data and information obtained via the Polymer Selector including but not limited to material suitability, material properties, performances, characteristics and cost are given for information purpose only. Although the data and information contained in the Polymer Selector are believed to be accurate and correspond to the best of our knowledge, they are provided without implied warranty of any kind. Data and information contained in the Polymer Selector are intended for guidance in a polymer selection process and should not be considered as binding specifications. The determination of the suitability of this information for any particular use is solely the responsibility of the user. Before working with any material, users should contact material suppliers in order to receive specific, complete and detailed information about the material they are considering. Part of the data and information contained in the Polymer Selector are genericised based on commercial literature provided by polymer suppliers and other parts are coming from assessments of our experts.

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