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Are any commercial plastics made from plant matter currently. I expect it can be done in a lab but I am wondering about cost competitive tonnage quantities.

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  • $\begingroup$ You can buy "bio"ethanol-based PE. If you want to get your own share of responsibility for the destruction of the Brazilian rainwood forest. $\endgroup$ – Karl Jun 13 '19 at 20:38
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The original answer only gave a link to a commercial bioplastic producer. The answer has been edited to provide more information.

Yes there are. Here is an example: Biome Bioplastics

European Bioplastics (an industry group) estimates that the global production of bioplastics was about 2 million metric tonnes in 2017. They forecast that this will increase to almost 2.5 million metric tonnes by 2022.Source

One estimate puts the market value of bioplastics at around 6 billion USD in 2018 and growing to almost 15 billion USD by 2023. Source

Common sources of bioplastics are starches (like corn), cellulose and aliphatic esters.

Commonly, bioplastics are used to make compostable/biodegradable packaging and films, as well as disposable cups and utensils.

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    $\begingroup$ I do not see any info on the website of actual commercial production. Lots of great customer PR but no production info. 30 years ago Amoco made some stuff out of biomass in the lab , but I am wondering if there is any serious production. $\endgroup$ – blacksmith37 Jun 13 '19 at 19:32
  • $\begingroup$ They have bioplastic products for sale, but do not talk about production - that seems standard for a commercial endeavour. $\endgroup$ – Michael Lautman Jun 13 '19 at 19:55
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Biomass polymers can and must never become more than a niche product for guillible customers, or for specialities.

Any attempt at upscaling these to large tonnages (that can actually make a dent in our oil consumption!) inevitably leads to food shortages and/or depletion of soils and biodiversity.

Same is true for biofuels. Photosynthesis is far too inefficient (max. 3%, compared to 15% for PV, and much more for thermal solar power).

Food production is bad enough for the environment as is. Don't make matters worse.

Actual examples for bio-based plastics are of course cellulose derivates, packaging made of starch, then polyols for polyester or PU, and the notorious sugarcane-ethanol based polyethylene.

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    $\begingroup$ While there is merit to your points, this doesn't really constitute an answer to the original question. $\endgroup$ – Michael Lautman Jun 13 '19 at 21:30
  • $\begingroup$ Also, bioplastics and biodegradable plastics are independent sets. Some bioplastics are not better biodegradable than conventional plastics, while some plastics have better degradability than some bioplastics. $\endgroup$ – Poutnik Jun 14 '19 at 5:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Poutnik There was no mention of biodegradibility in the question. As you say, that's very independent of the feedstock source. $\endgroup$ – Karl Jun 14 '19 at 6:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Karl I have not say there was. And that was the reason of my complementing note, as there is widespread mistake "bio-originated plast = bio-(Fast)degradable plast". $\endgroup$ – Poutnik Jun 14 '19 at 7:00

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