Can new refineries unlock the potential of bioplastics in a post-oil age?
Plastics from petrochemicals transformed design for consumer goods over the last 100 years – from the monobloc chair of the 1960s to Zaha Hadid's soft, supportive shoes for Brazilian brand Melissa. Now, designers are moulding the future using plastics from waste – and these new 'bioplastics' could soon be omnipresent.
By 2020, for instance, drinks industry giants Pepsi and Coca-Cola aim to be selling all their stuff in bottles made of agricultural waste. Others have stepped forward as pioneers: Ecover's cleaning products have been marketed for the last year in bottles from the world's largest producer of biopolymers, Braskem. This Brazilian company uses ethanol from purpose-grown sugarcane as a primary feedstock, but Effi Vandevoorde at Ecover expects to see more plastics from waste in the future, whether it's crop and forestry residues, discarded food or methane sourced in landfill sites.