From their inception over 100 years ago, plastics have become indispensable to our daily lives.
In 1907 Leo Baekeland added phenol to formaldehyde to form Bakelite. Leo became a very wealthy man and the world became a very different place. Today, plastics are indispensable at every stage of the supply chain, for every industry, product or service.
However, whilst plastics are prized for their durability, light weight and long life, it is these very factors that make them one of the larger environmental threats of the modern world. Apart from the small amount that’s incinerated, every bit of plastic made over the last century is still present somewhere on our planet. The price of this ‘miracle material’ is being paid by the natural world: from the sea life that consumes it, to hormonal disruption in animals, to the area of ocean dominated by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Around 4% of the oil that the world uses every year goes into producing plastics. Global resources have long been unable to sustain escalating consumption. As the cost of oil rises and the effects of global warming intensify, governments and industries the world over are forced to take action. As giving up plastics would mean giving up modern life as we know it, attention is turning to a viable, natural alternative.
Bioplastics are that alternative; they are made partly or wholly from sustainable plant sources, and are often biodegradable, composting at the end of their useful life. Challenging the dominance of oil-based products, modern bioplastics are now suitable for an impressive range of applications without the need for new equipment or infrastructure.
Alexander Parkes creates the first man-made plastic from an organic material derived from cellulose
Leo Baekeland invents Bakelite, becomes a very wealthy man, and the world becomes a very different place
The outbreak of war leads to stockpiling as the military substitutes plastics for metals and rubber
The commercialisation of polyester fibres introduces the concept of ‘drip dry’ and ‘non-iron’ fabrics
Now available in a wide variety of forms, plastic becomes the most used material in the world
Commercial demand for bioplastics starts to develop, driven by oil price volatility and environmental concern
Biome Bioplastics is founded and starts to develop its own biopolymers
BiomeHT is launched, establishing a new standard in temperature-stable bioplastics
Project around fibres and monofilaments emerges from Biome laboratory
Biome embarks on development work around coating for paper, board and film
Biome begins to investigate the extraction of platform chemicals from lignin
Biome increases focus on multilayer film structure compound grades
Non-woven Emesh successfully launched for beverage filtration application