Bioplastics are plastics derived from renewable biomass sources, such as vegetable fats and oils, corn starch, pea starch or microbiota. Common plastics, such as fossil-fuel plastics, are derived from petroleum- these plastics rely more on fossil fuels and produce more greenhouse gas. Some, but not all, bioplastics are designed to biodegrade. Biodegradable bioplastics can break down in either anaerobic or aerobic environments, depending on how they are manufactured. There is a variety of materials that bioplastics can be composed of, including: starches, cellulose, or other biopolymers. Some common applications of bioplastics are packaging materials, dining utensils, food packaging, and insulation.
Biodegradable bioplastics are used for disposable items, such as packaging and catering items (crockery, cutlery, pots, bowls, straws). They are also often used for bags, trays, containers for fruit, vegetables, eggs and meat, bottles for soft drinks and dairy products, and blister foils for fruit and vegetables.
Nondisposable applications include mobile phone casings, carpet fibres, and car interiors, fuel line and plastic pipe applications, and new electroactive bioplastics are being developed that can be used to carry electrical current. In these areas, the goal is not biodegradability, but to create items from sustainable resources.
Medical implants made of PLA, which dissolve in the body, save patients a second operation. Compostable mulch films for agriculture, already often produced from starch polymers, do not have to be collected after use and can be left on the fields.