There are other types of bioplastics and a huge range are in use, and even more are currently being developed. Vegans beware: newer innovations include bioplastic made from agricultural and industrial food waste such as feathers and fish scales.
As the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) document Considerations for Compostable Plastic Packaging points out that “...the term 'plastic free’ should not be applied to compostable plastics even if they incorporate 100% bio-based content”. Plastic is plastic no matter where it comes from.
The impact of using land to grow raw materials for bioplastic that could otherwise be used for growing food crops is questionable. There are other environmental concerns, such as pollution from crop fertilisers to take into consideration. With these factors in mind, a bioplastic made from industrial waste products seems to be a good solution.
What's the difference between and biodegradable, degradable, compostable, and home compostable plastic?
Although the term 'biodegradable' is defined as “able to decay naturally and in a way that is not harmful”. there are no official certification schemes to verify use of the word on product labelling.
WRAP states that; “Despite definitions being available in EU regulation (Dir2019/904), the term biodegradable is also often misused and applied to a broad range of different materials. Without a specified environment and time frame, the term is extremely vague, because a biodegradable product may biodegrade in some environments and not (in any reasonable timeframe) in others.”
Just because a product has the word biodegradable on, it doesn't mean it's ok to fling it into the hedge or put it on your compost heap. Materials labelled as biodegradable can even contain a small percentage of conventional fossil-based plastic.
Beware of 'degradable' or 'oxo-degradable' plastics. These are conventional fossil-based plastics which have chemical additives to help them break down into microplastics faster. Oxo-degradable plastics are now banned under the EU single-use plastics ban. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/biodegradable
Compostable plastic refers to plastics that can break down in an industrial hot composting system. It can be made from renewable bio-based materials or a mixture of bio-based and fossil-based material.
Home Compostable Plastic
Home Compostable Plastic refers to plastics that will break down in a well-managed garden compost heap. It can also be made from renewable bio-based materials or a mixture of bio-based and fossil-based material.
There are several certification schemes for compostable and home compostable packaging. Look out for the TUV OK Compost logo or the Dincerto seedling logo. These both comply to European composting standards, which means that the material has been rigorously tested for disintegration time and ecotoxicity.