Report slams bioplastics’ eco-friendly claims

By Ellie Borst | 02/28/2024 01:44 PM EST

Hailed as better alternatives to fossil-fuel-based plastics, bioplastics make up a small — but growing — percentage of plastics produced.

Hans holds up PHA pellets.

Kevin Welsh holds up PHA pellets at the Danimer Scientific plant on Aug. 3, 2022, in Winchester, Kentucky. Companies are investing billions of dollars to ramp up production of plastics made from natural, renewable materials that can be safely composted or can biodegrade under the right conditions. Jeff Dean/AP

As more companies lean on bio-based plastics due to recycling concerns, a new report warns the environmental pros don’t yet outweigh the cons.

The report, released Wednesday by nonprofit Plastic Pollution Coalition and consulting firm Eunomia, criticizes the most common bioplastic, polylactic acid (PLA), for creating “confusion” on its biodegradability status and its harmful chemical emissions.
report, released Wednesday

Plastics have increasingly been under scrutiny for their low recycling rates and reliance on petrochemicals made from fossil fuels.


Increasingly more companies are opting for PLA, primarily made from corn starch in the U.S., to replace cutlery, cups, packaging and other single-use plastics. The report estimates only about 1 percent of all plastics produced are bioplastics, and about one-fifth of those bioplastics are PLA.