18.01.2022 -

The Future of Plastics

The future of plastics is bio-based and circular. Imagine a world where all plastics are made from bio-based resources instead of fossil crude oil and they are diligently collected and recycled. It is possible and viable economically and environmentally sustainable.

The first thing that needs attention is biodiversity. There is simply not enough natural resources for all applications driven by human consumption – unless we act smartly.

Collection, sorting and recycling capacity for plastics must be developed and scaled up substantially to reduce the burden on natural, bio-based resources. When plastics are collected and recycled for example five times per year, then the demand for land to grow the trees and crops needed for human consumption drops significantly.

The five main segments

Bio-based, or renewable, raw materials can come from various sources, says Tomi Nyman, CCO of Woodly.

These raw materials can be grouped into five main segments: 

– lignocellulosic raw materials such as cellulose (pulp) and lignin

– natural oils such as animal fats and vegetable oils

– sugars and starches

– waste and residue materials and

– CO2

In each segment, current global production exceeds 200 million tons.


How to determine the future of plastics?

When each of the five categories contributes to the raw material pool, as much as 10 million tons of bio-based plastics can be made available from each segment without causing too much concern for biodiversity. Additionally, a large part of each segment is already used for other than food applications and as traffic is electrifying, more agricultural land becomes available for both food and chemicals production. 

Carbon dioxide is often considered a future raw material. However, it is not as easy as described since the capturing from air or from factory flue gas requires significant amounts of chemicals and electricity.

Eventually, the future of plastics will be determined by the most sustainable available technology and raw material, taking into consideration the production emissions, raw materials, biodiversity, social impacts, land use etc.

We at Woodly are working to make our material the plastic of the future.

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