There is a great demand for customers who want sustainable and environment-friendly products, but the development of biopolymers is not easy due to important technological challenges to improve the pollution in the ecosystem and financial costs.
The biggest problem in the production of bioplastics was their high cost which could not compete with the plastics already developed even knowing that the oil is an expensive source. However, since more companies such as Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Danone, Tetra Pak, or Heinz have started producing it, the offer has increased, and therefore, the price is reduced.
(Introduction to Bioplastics Engineering, 2016). Since the production of polymers from natural sources such as vegetable oils and starches has taken off, it is probably expected that the consumption of fossil fuels for the production of conventional plastics will decrease by 20% by 2030.
The lack of political support in Europe hinders growth in the bioplastic industries in that area. As an example, in 2016 the production capacity of these materials decreased by 6% (European-biotechnology).
It seems that one cause of this was that the price of crude oil fell sharply, then the production of conventional plastics became even cheaper than before. As a result, several companies lost interest in developing bioplastics since petroleum plastics were a lot more budget-friendly during that year. The government probably did not take any countermeasures against these companies and did not incentive bioplastic research sufficiently.
The European Commission intends to encourage innovation and research in bio-based products by allocating a budget under the Horizon 2020 program.
This program finances projects in various technological areas in Europe, with almost 80,000 million euros, 5.6% of this budget (4208 million euros) dedicated to bioeconomic projects. In 2015, an investigation was created to transform plastic waste into bioplastics. Its budget was approximately 7 million euros. This project involved universities and research institutes from several countries of the European Union (Germany, Spain, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and France) (ec.Europa.EU/programs/horizon2020). It is clear that without the help of the government to investigate the process of producing bioplastics, there would not be rapid advances in the industrial sector. Pramanik et al. (2015) suggested that the price of bioplastics will decrease because logistic costs will be lower in a few years. Probably the bioplastic industries tend to be built near the fields with the raw materials which they will use as sources.
It would be unfair to evaluate the impact of bioplastics in the environment without discerning each different type since there are some factors such as the conditions of their production or where they have been used, which make them interact in different ways in the same environments. The production of bioplastics is probably a more sustainable activity than the production of conventional plastics. Khazir and Shetty (2014) pointed out that, the balance of carbon dioxide and methane production in bio-based polymers is lower than in synthetic polymers. They suggested that the emission of CO2 can be reduced by 30-70% using bioplastics instead of petroleum plastics. Its statement is based on the fact that the production of greenhouse gases created by bioplastics at the time of their decomposition is balanced with the gases that the plants took from the atmosphere during their growth. However, it should be taken into account how the farmer has grown the products (plants), since he has been able to use fertilizers or pesticides, which can damage the environment, and the use of agricultural machinery to harvest raw materials