News Analysis

Study Says Bioplastics Not Necessarily Greener

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh ranked various plastics based on their environmental impacts and found that bioplastics (made from corn, soy, and other agricultural materials) do not always outperform petroleum-based plastics. The study, published in

Environmental Science and Technology, looked at 12 plastics using life-cycle assessment (LCA) as well as several other green design principles such as recycled content, biodegradability, price, and feedstock transport. Bioplastics ranked at the top of the list according to green design principles but only made it to the middle of the list when LCA was used. Polyolefins, including high- and low-density polyethylene and polypropylene, ranked at the top of the LCA rankings despite their petroleum origins. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), along with polyethylene terephthalate (PET, typically used in bottles) and polycarbonate, came in last in both sets of rankings.

Published November 24, 2010

Wendt, A. (2010, November 24). Study Says Bioplastics Not Necessarily Greener. Retrieved from