08 Août Factsheet Bioplastics
Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences (SATW) August 2019
Authors: Roger Marti, Hans-Peter Meyer, Manfred Zinn
Main themes: plastic, bioplastic, biopolymers
Nature of publication: factsheet
The first plastic, invented in the second half of the 19th century, was celluloid, produced from nitrocellulose and camphor. Bakelite was the first plastic based on repeating and identical building blocks, so-called monomers. Due to its unrivalled characteristics, Bakelite quickly found use in the rapidly growing automotive and electrical industries. Since then, “plastic” has been a major success and is found in practically all aspects of human life and in high-tech applications. The problem of plastic is related to its advantage: durability. It does not degrade completely, instead breaking down into ever smaller micro- and nanoparticles whose fate and influence on ecosystems are not yet clear. Is bioplastic a solution? The first SATW Innovation Forum on “Biopolymers” took place in November 2018. Invited stakeholders from academic research institutions, industry and administration discussed the current situation and possible shortcomings in Switzerland and charted possible scenarios for development. The publication shows why plastic has become a problem, what bioplastics are, and whether it needs regulation.