Sustainable Plastics: A Comparison of Fully Bio-Based Biodegradable Plastic and Fully Fossil-Based Non-Biodegradable Plastic
Duijvenbode, I.C. van
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The aim of this thesis was to give more insight in the environmental impacts of plastic. Two plastic types -the fossil-based non-biodegradable plastic LDPE and the bio-based biodegradable plastic PLA- have been compared to each other in order to gain a level of sustainability. The Netherlands agreed to strive for a curtail in greenhouse gases and thereby to reduce global warming. Sustainability, and especially environmental sustainability is a critical component. In this thesis environmental sustainability is measured based on the emission of CO2. The question that has been answered is: To what extent is the production and disposal of bio-based biodegradable plastic more environmentally sustainable than the production and disposal of fully fossil-based non-biodegradable plastic in the Netherlands, when looking at the emission of CO2? A literature study has been conducted in order to answer the research question. The results showed that PLA is indeed more sustainable, with a difference of 0.8 kg CO2/kg plastic. In the life cycle of PLA, 2.1 kg CO2/kg plastic is emitted, in contrary to 2.9 kg CO2/kg plastic for LDPE. This difference is not exceedingly large, but it can be concluded that there is an urgent need to reduce the amount of plastic used.