Plastics from fossil raw materials are associated with numerous environmental problems. Potential negative effects arise from the promotion of crude oil through the whole chain to the disposal of plastics. Only a small part of the produced plastics is recycled, the main part is deposited, thermally recycled or pollutes the environment. The long endurance of plastic products is a serious problem for ecosystems, as they accumulate in considerable amounts. Plastic wastes are decomposed into micro-particles by weathering, waves and UV rays and are often part of the food chains. In contrast, plastics from renewable raw materials generally increase the independence of raw material imports and are, in most cases, biodegradable. They represent an environmentally-friendly alternative and do not release any fossil CO2 during thermal utilization, which has a significant greenhouse gas potential, as almost 10% of the world’s oil production is consumed in plastic production. In 2014, around 300 million tonnes of plastics were produced worldwide, of which only about 1.7 million tonnes were plastics from renewable sources.
The aim of this study is to develop a roadmap that provides recommendations for action and future research needs in order to achieve a significant increase in the production of bio-based plastics in the EU by 2050. This roadmap will be compiled by involving relevant stakeholders and taking into account expected socioeconomic and climatological developments by 2050 in a broad-based process. The state of the art, economic, regulatory and technical barriers to the use of biopolymers are identified and ways of overcoming them are derived. Including a status quo analysis and a vision 2050 (100% bioplastic products in the EU), which is concretised with experts and stakeholders, a technology path is created, which shows important development steps and technological advances in eight-year steps. New technological developments and eco-innovations on bio-based plastics are identified, their potentials assessed, and recommendations for possible regulating mechanisms as well as a description of the research requirements along a time axis up to 2050 are formulated.
The results will be presented as a final report and as a publicized roadmap 2050 for plastics from renewable raw materials.
Umweltbundesamt GmbH, Austria
alchemia-nova GmbH, Österreich
completed, Start 3/2017, duration 12 Monate
Call: Produktion der Zukunft (19. Ausschreibung), Forschungs- und Entwicklungsdienstleistung Studie: Roadmap 2050 – Kunststoff aus nachwachsenden Rohstoffen („Biobasierter Kunststoff“)
FFG number: 858659
Total budget: € 78.445
 Richard C. Thompson et al., “Plastics, the Environment and Human Health: Current Consensus and Future Trends,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 364, no. 1526 (July 27, 2009): 2153–66, doi:10.1098/rstb.2009.0053.
 Worldwatch Institute, 2015. Global Plastic Production Rises, Recycling Lags. Worldwatch Institute. https://www.worldwatch.org/global-plastic-production-rises-recycling-lags-0 [2016-07-06].
 European Bioplastics e.V., 2016. Bioplastics – facts and figures. European Bioplastics. https://docs.european-bioplastics.org/2016/publications/EUBP_facts_and_figures.pdf [2016-07-04].