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What's BiomassPla?

History and Background of Biomass-based Plastics

Global Warming

Global warming, which is a typical issue of climate change, is an important subject to be coped with from the global and long-term point of view. Atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, which is one of the green house gases, used to be 280 ppm before the industrial revolution. The concentration has rapidly risen to the current 380 ppm over a short period of time since then, and is expected to continue to rise to 500 to 1,000 ppm by the end of 21st century if no countermeasures are taken. It is generally agreed on that a balance between the carbon sink ( ca. 3 billion t-C/year; terrestrial and marine sinks combined) and the carbon discharge (ca. 6.3 billion t-C/year) must be maintained in order to stabilize the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide. Some symptoms of environmental abnormalities due to the increase in the atmospheric concentration of green house gases have already begun being noticed. It had taken hundreds of thousand years to fix enough carbons in the earth and establish the current environmental conditions, but we can clearly conceive the possible danger of rapid deterioration of the global environment in near future due to the drastic increase in consumption of fossil resources within the last couple of centuries.


Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and the government policy

The Japanese Government ratified the Kyoto Protocol in June, 2002 and took the first step to draw up the plan against global warming. Following the ratification, the government announced two practical state measures to promote the policy in December, 2002; these two being the "Biotechnology Strategic Scheme" and the "Biomass Nippon Strategy".

The main objective of the two strategies is to promote the utilization of biomass, which is a renewable resource, by applying fast-advancing biotechnologies in order to mitigate the global warming and other relevant environmental abnormalities, as well as to reduce the consumption of fossil resources that are depleting quickly.

Let's Replace 20% of Petrochemical Plastics with Biomass-based Plastics

In the strategies proposed as an important issue is the expansion of use of biomass-based plastics, which are made from renewable resources by applying advanced biochemical technologies. The policy objective stated in the Biotechnology Strategic Scheme is to replace approximately 20 % (2.5 to 3 million tons per year) of conventional plastics with plastics from renewable resources by late 2010s. If production of plastics can be feasible from biomass such as plants that can be renewed within the time period of a few dozens of years at most instead of fossil resources that are depleting, we can accomplish both the reduction in consumption of fossil resources and the prevention of increase in atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide simultaneously. This is the concept of Carbon Neutrality, and Biomass-based Plastics are the representative materials of the concept.

Characteristics of Biomass-based Plastics

IJapan BioPlastics Association (JBPA) defines Biomass-based Plastics as polymer materials that are produced by synthesizing, either chemically or biologically, materials which contain renewable organic materials (natural organic polymer materials that are not chemically modified are excluded).

Plastics are indispensable to support our lives. JBPA desires to provide plastic materials while helping to solve the most urgent and important issues of preservation of global environment and establishment of recycle-oriented society by applying chemical and biochemical technologies on the biomass resources


Characteristics of Biomass-based Plastics


Japan BioPlastics Association (JBPA) defines Biomass-based Plastics as polymer materials that are produced by synthesizing, either chemically or biologically, materials which contain renewable organic materials (natural organic polymer materials that are not chemically modified are excluded).

Plastics are indispensable to support our lives. JBPA desires to provide plastic materials while helping to solve the most urgent and important issues of preservation of global environment and establishment of recycle-oriented society by applying chemical and biochemical technologies on the biomass resources.


Materials and Types of Biomass-based Plastics


Biomass-based Plastics are characterized by use of biomass as the raw materials. Many kinds of biomass materials may be used to produce Biomass-based Plastics which are categorized in two classes; totally Biomass-based Plastics and partially Biomass-based Plastics.

Totally Biomass-based Plastics

Plastics totally made from biomass materials. PLA and esterised starch are the examples.

If both succinic acid and 1,4-butanediol of biomass origin can be substituted for the currently used materials of petrochemical origin, polybutylene succinate family (PBS) are to be classified as All-out BiomassPla.

Partially Biomass-based Plastics

Polypropyrene terephthalate (PPT) products containing propylene glycol produced by fermentation are already on the market. Copolymerized PLA and Cellulose acetate are also the examples of partial BiomassPla.

Studies and development are currently being undertaken to substitute petrochemical succinic acid, used to produce PBS and PBSA, and petrochemical 1,4-butanediol, used to produce PBAT, with those of biomass origin. When the substitution is completed, these plastics are to be classified as partially Biomass-based Plastics.