EU bioplastics projects
Protecting nature and the environment from plastics pollution

30.04.2021 Two European projects are joining forces: BIO-PLASTICS EUROPE, coordinated by the University of Applied Sciences (HAW) based in Hamburg/Germany, and SEALIVE, coordinated by the Instituto Tecnológico del Embalaje, Transporte y Logística (ITENE) in Valencia/Spain.

BIO-PLASTICS EUROPE and SEALIVE want to use their research projects to promote the use of bio-plastics and improve environmental protection when it comes to plastic waste.
© Photo: @Hans -
BIO-PLASTICS EUROPE and SEALIVE want to use their research projects to promote the use of bio-plastics and improve environmental protection when it comes to plastic waste.

Together, they aim to advance the research and development of bio-based plastics in the European Union (EU) and thus protect nature and the environment from global plastic waste pollution. The Earth is struggling with many problems caused by human activity, such as vast amounts of plastic waste. To address this problem and find environmentally friendly solutions, researchers are increasingly collaborating across borders.

Synergies for bioplastics

For example, two European research projects on plastics – BIO-PLASTICS EUROPE and SEALIVE – have been cooperating since April to exploit synergies for the production and use of bio-plastics. Both projects develop sustainability strategies and solutions for bio-based products and thus support the EU plastics strategy. The aim is to explore closed-loop technologies and end-of-life solutions to develop sustainable bio-based plastics to reduce waste and pollution on land and in the oceans.

Dr Jelena Barbir, lead project manager of BIO-PLASTICS EUROPE at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, underlines the need for the cooperation: "The two project teams want to work more closely together to move forward faster, influence EU policy on bio-based plastics more efficiently and coordinate their recommendations before they are forwarded to the EU." To this end, scientists from the two projects will meet online twice a year to discuss progress on bio-based plastics.

The first joint meeting, entitled "Opportunities and constraints in EU policy for bio-based and biodegradable plastics," will take place on 29 June from 10am to 12pm CET in the form of an online event.

Research and prototypes

BIO-PLASTICS EUROPE has been developing sustainable solutions for the production and use of bio-based plastics and implementing the results with 22 project partners from 13 countries since its launch in October 2019. Since then, eleven research papers have been published, five prototypes of bio-based plastics have been developed and work has started on a safety protocol to ensure the safe use and end-of-life management of bio-based and biodegradable plastics. Currently, these prototypes are being tested in the laboratory and in field trials. Initial results are expected by the end of the year and will be used to assess the safety of the new materials in products such as reusable cutlery, toys, soft and rigid packaging, agricultural films and geomembranes, and fish bait and boxes. The project aims to provide bio-based, biodegradable, sustainable and safe materials for the production of these products.

SEALIVE (Strategies of circular Economy and Advanced bio-based solutions to keep our Lands and seas free from plastics contamination) was launched in October 2019. The project brings together 24 partners and five affiliated organisations from eleven countries in Europe and South America from applied research, industry and non-governmental organisations that have made their mark in the plastics, recycling and biopolymers sectors. SEALIVE aims to promote the use of biomaterials and bring innovative bio-based plastics to the market that offer viable alternatives to conventional products. To this end, eight bio-based plastics are being further developed and tested in six regions where land and water are heavily polluted by plastic waste. Currently, the SEALIVE partners are investigating products such as single-use plastics, agricultural films and traditional fishing nets and developing bio-based versions for them. Miriam Gallur, coordinator of the SEALIVE project: "Retailers and end consumers ultimately judge how good the SEALIVE developments are. In addition, waste management companies test the environmental impact of the prototypes to show the best strategy in each case."