Biodegradable Production Materials Guide from Sofeast

Biodegradable production materials are becoming more sought after in today’s world, as we enter a challenging time where climate change is starting to affect us all negatively and consumers around the world demand their favored brands become more sustainable.

As an importer, you may be considering how to make your brand and products more sustainable, and one way is to focus on sourcing production materials that are biodegradable and/or recyclable. If that describes you, this guide is a great introduction to biodegradable production materials for you.

Hit the links below to jump to each section, or just keep reading!

Introduction: Today, consumers want products made from biodegradable production materials

Gone are the days when selecting a production material solely based on its cost and ability to fulfill the product design requirements was enough; now many manufacturers must consider the environmental impact of their material choices, too.

According to the World Economic Forum:

“[There has been] a staggering 71% rise in online searches for sustainable goods globally over the past five years.” 

A Deloitte survey conducted in the UK in 2021 found that:

“Ethical and sustainability issues remain a key driver for almost a third of consumers, who claim to have stopped purchasing certain brands due to related concerns.” 

Indeed, the same report also found that 41% of respondents chose everyday household goods brands that have environmentally sustainable practices/ values, and that “waste reduction (68%) or sustainable packaging scores highly (69%) when grocery shopping; and a reduced carbon footprint is also valued highly (48%) when it comes to buying major household appliances.”

The bottom line is, that there’s a strong appetite for brands to become more sustainable and physically demonstrate that they have taken action to reduce their impacts on the environment, such as by choosing biodegradable production materials for products and packaging, even when cheaper, more harmful, options are available. 

Some brands also choose to implement different eco certifications. Many have a commonality, which is the reduction of waste, carbon footprint, and environmental impact through the choice of more sustainable practices and materials.

Luckily there are a number of materials available to today’s manufacturers that are derived from natural sources, are generally sustainable, and, of course, have a low impact on the environment by being biodegradable and more easily recyclable in most cases. These are used to create bioplastics, textiles, and other helpful raw materials.

With these in mind, we have produced this guide* to give you an introduction to some of the more common biodegradable materials that you may choose for your products and packaging, including key information per material, such as its common uses, source, rate of biodegradation, approximate cost/kg, manufacturing process, benefits, drawbacks, and more.

*Note, this guide quotes directly from numerous resources available on the internet and references are given for each of the biodegradable production materials featured.


bamboo biodegradable production materials
What is bamboo?

Bamboo is a member of the grass family, but they aren’t like the ones growing in your yard. Rather they have a hard, woody stem, and are one of the most versatile plants that can be used as a production material in many of the same applications that wood is used. Not only that, it’s used in construction and even as food (1.4billion Chinese people can’t be wrong)!

It’s fast-growing and can be cultivated in many areas of the world, making it a perfectly sustainable and biodegradable production material.

Bamboos grow in the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa and Latin America, extending as far north as the southern United States or central China, and as far south as Patagonia. They also grow in northern Australia (, 2022).

Common applications

Bamboo has many uses, mainly in construction (flooring, roofing designing, and scaffolding), furniture, food, biofuel, fabrics, cloth, paper, pulp, charcoal, ornamental garden planting, and environmental characteristics, such as a large carbon sink and good phytoremediation option, improving soil structure and soil erosion (Ding, 2020; Alexander et al., 2020).

bamboo products

Image source: Alexander et al., 2020

Bamboo is a highly-yield renewable resource: bamboo chipboard, agro-based medium density fiberboards and flakeboard used in engineering and construction; ply bamboo used for wall paneling, floor tile, bamboo pulp for papermaking, briquettes for fuel, bamboo fibers used for making composite thermoplastic reinforcement which is used to make roofs, etc. These diversities make bamboo environmental friendly and easily adaptable (Atanda, 2015).

Production material source

Bamboo fiber is a cellulosic fiber that is regenerated from bamboo plants. It is a great prospective green fiber with outstanding biodegradable textile material, having strength comparable to conventional glass fibers (Imadi et al., 2014).

Biodegradation rate

Bamboo will biodegrade in 12–36 months (Daria et al., 2020).

Environmental impact (during production etc)

Bamboo fiber is produced through alkaline hydrolysis and multi-phase bleaching of bamboo stems and leaves followed by chemical treatment of starchy pulp generated during the process  (Imadi et al., 2014). Aside from the potential waste of its manufacturing process, bamboo has a remarkable ability to absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Compared to an equivalent tree mass, bamboo produces 35% more oxygen and research has shown that bamboo can absorb as much as 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare per year (Carter, 2022). Overall, its environmental impact has to be seen as positive.


The bamboo plant can be harvested within 3–5 years unlike most softwood trees which take 10–20 years to be ready for harvesting, and also they have a biomass of 2–5% unlike wood at 10–30% (Atanda, 2015). 

Bamboo fiber has various micro-gaps, which make it softer than cotton and increase its moisture absorption. They are elastic, environment-friendly, and biodegradable. The fiber is bacteriostatic, antifungal, antibacterial, hypoallergenic, hygroscopic, natural deodorizer, and resistant to ultraviolet light (Imadi et al., 2014).


When bamboos are used for cutlery and food containers such as cups or bowl, their fibers are actually ground into powder and then glued with melamine resin (a kind of glue made of formaldehyde and organic compound melamine) into the shape of a cup. This releases toxic molecules such as formaldehyde and melamine when used to hold hot liquid above 70 degrees celsius. Therefore, it’s prohibited to heat melamine-coated bamboo dishes in the microwave. What’s more, the amount of melamine released increases with exposure to hot or slightly acidic liquids like sodas (Barrett, 2020).

Price/kg of raw material

$1.05 – $2.10 – Uncolored bamboo fiber (, 2022)

 $2.10 – $2.90 – Colored bamboo fiber (, 2022)

Example manufacturing process from raw material to finished goods

Here’s an example of how bamboo straws, a common product, are produced:

bamboo straw production process

Bamboo can be used to produce bamboo straws, for example, by grinding bamboo into powder, mixed into a solution, and then molded and cut with custom machines. The bulk straws must be dried before packaging (, 2022).

A similar manufacturing process will be used for many types of bamboo products such as tableware, cutlery, and more.



What is cork?

Most of us have used cork regularly, maybe even this week! It’s probably most commonly seen as the ‘cork’ in bottles of wine, but it’s also used to produce lots of everyday products and is natural and sustainable.

Cork, is the outer bark of an evergreen type of oak tree called the cork oak (species Quercus suber) that is native to the Mediterranean region.  The cork oak grows abundantly in Portugal, Spain, parts of southern France and Italy, and North Africa. The tree is usually about 18 m (60 feet) tall, with a broad, round-topped head and glossy green, hollylike leaves (, 2022).

Common applications

cork biodegradable production materials in use

The relevant properties presented by cork coupled with the fact that it is a natural, renewable, and recyclable material make it appropriate for a variety of applications. Most cork, around 70%, is used as bottle stoppers; however, this material is also largely used for the production of cork-based composites employed for different technological applications, such as for the building industry (22%) (, 2015).

The first two harvests; the virgin cork and Secundaria cork, as well as that removed from the base of the tree, becomes raw material for insulation, flooring, products for areas as diverse as construction, fashion, design, health, energy production and the aerospace industry (, 2022). Cork also has exceptional electrical, thermal and acoustic insulation properties, making cork a versatile material (, 2021).

Production material source

Cork is obtained from the bark of a tree, the Cork Oak (Quercus suber L.), or more exactly from the outside layer of the trunk of the tree which is periodically removed without harming the tree, usually every 9–12 years (depending on the culture region), to assure the cork layer reached the minimum required thickness (, 2015).

Biodegradation rate

Cork biodegrades in between 3 to 10 years (, 2021).

Environmental impact (during production etc)

The cork industry generates large amounts of cork powder every year. Around 200 tons of cork smoker wash solids (a black wax obtained in the corkboard production process) is considered a residue that represents an environmental problem. However, cork production generates less CO2 compared to plastic. Around 1.5 kg of CO2 is generated to produce 1000 cork stoppers, but producing the same amount of plastic stoppers and screwcaps generates 14 and 37 kg of CO2, respectively (, 2015).


The cork tree offers the advantage of being the only tree whose bark can regenerate itself after harvest, making it a truly renewable material. In terms of morphology, cork can be described as an anisotropic material with a close cellular structure and thin-walled cells (Fernandesab et al., 2011). 

Cork is further characterised by low density, good resistance to fatigue, low thermal conductivity (it is an excellent thermal insulator), low speed of sound propagation and low acoustic impedance (it is an excellent sound insulator), high resistance to combustion (serves as the progression of fire retardant), good wear resistance, and hypo-allergenicity (since it does not absorb dust, nor cause allergies) (, 2015).


It takes each cork oak 25 years before it can be stripped for the first time and it is only from the third stripping (at around 43 years of age) that the cork, then known as ‘Amadia,’ has a high enough standard of quality required for producing cork stoppers (, 2022). 

Moreover, the cork industry produces a fine residue, cork powder, a light and granular waste material which should be valorized. Research was carried out to look at the possibility of using this waste as filler in paper. [To do so, the] brown cork granulate must firstly be refined to the correct particle size distribution. [It] can be incorporated at a maximum of 15% in weight in order not to have a [negative] effect on inter-fiber links. One drawback is [that it makes darker paper] sheet color and so [cork granulate] cannot be applied in paper with high brightness standards such as writing paper, but it can be used, in packaging paper and several other applications (Gil, 2015).

Price/kg of raw material

$0.30 – Fine cork powder (, 2022)

$0.80 – Granulated cork (, 2022)

Example manufacturing process from raw material to finished goods

Let’s look at how cork bottle stoppers are produced and then recycled into other products:

cork production and recycling process

The production process of wine bottle stoppers from Cork can be done by the punching method. Once harvested, the cork oak bark is stacked to dry out, before being boiled in giant vats to remove any contaminants. The highest quality bark is selected and wine corks are punched out of the bark in solid cylinders. Synthetic corks and screw caps take 9-24 times more CO2 emissions to produce than natural, beautiful cork stoppers (, 2022).


hemp biodegradable production materials

What is hemp?

Hemp, (Cannabis sativa), also called industrial hemp, plant of the family Cannabaceae largely cultivated for its bast/skin fibre or its edible seeds. 

Of course, the high THC variety of Cannabis Sativa is also well-known as a recreational and medical drug, but industrial hemp is naturally low in THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) a substance that can cause a euphoric high. 

The hemp fibres are obtained by subjecting the plant’s stalks to a series of operations—including retting, drying, and crushing—and a shaking process that completes separation from the woody portion, releasing the long, fairly straight fibre, or line. The fibre strands, usually longer than 1.8 metres (5.8 feet), are made of individual cylindrical cells with irregular surfaces (, 2022).

Common applications

hemp biodegradable production materials applications

Hemp fibre is strong and durable and is used for cordage—e.g., twine, yarn, rope, cable, and string—and for artificial sponges and such coarse fabrics as sacking (burlap) and canvas. Some specially processed hemp has a whitish colour and attractive lustre and is used to make fabric similar to linen for clothing. Hemp textiles can also be used to make shoes (, 2022).

In the packaging industry, hemp fibre is often used to make bioplastic packaging. The novel “hempcrete,” a composite material made of hemp and a lime binder, can be used similarly to traditional concrete in non-load-bearing applications. Hemp can also be used as an alternative to wood pulp in some instances; it is frequently used in papermaking and is a sustainable alternative to fibreglass insulation in buildings (, 2022).

Bioplastics made from hemp are often used for the production of ecological packaging. Since hemp bioplastic is heat resistant, it is also a great option for culinary use (, 2022). 

Hemp fiber is used in one of the plant-based plastics developed by Chad Ulven, an associate professor of mechanical engineering from North Dakota State University, through his Fargo-based company, c2Renew. Hemp-based filament, melted and layered by a 3D printer, creates a caramel-colored plastic surface flecked with organic specks (, 2020).

Production material source

Hemp fibers are considered one of the strong members of the bast natural fibers family, which are derived from the hemp plant under the species of Cannabis (Varghese & Mittal, 2018). 

The fibres are on the outside of the woody stem of the plant and, once removed, can be used in many applications as mentioned.

Biodegradation rate

Hemp biodegrades in 3–8 months (Daria et al., 2020)

Environmental impact (during production etc)

Hemp plantations have a lower environmental impact than cotton, for example, since it requires less water to thrive – and is actually drought tolerant. It also usually grows well without irrigation. Moreover, hemp fiber’s yield is higher than any other agricultural crop, thereby requiring less land for equal yield (, 2010). 

Hemp production involves tractors and cutting machines to cut the crop, but mainly relies on natural retting (where the cut stalks are left on the ground outside for 4-6 weeks and the combination of sun, rain, and soil microbes loosen the fibre’s attachment to the stem). Therefore production has a fairly low impact on the environment.


Nowadays, hemp fibers have received wide acceptance as reinforcements in composite materials on account of their biodegradability and low density compared with artificial fibers. Also, these materials have inherent mechanical, thermal, and acoustic properties (Varghese & Mittal, 2018). 

Bioplastics made from hemp are non-toxic, pesticide-free, recyclable and biodegradable (Barrett, 2019). Despite hemp bioplastic biodegrading easily, it is actually 5 times stiffer and 2.5 times stronger than traditional plastic. The more lasting it is the less of the product needs to be produced resulting in energy saved (, 2022).


Hemp fibre is longer and less flexible than flax, it is usually yellowish, greenish, or a dark brown or gray and, because it is not easily bleached to sufficiently light shades, is rarely dyed (, 2022).

Price/kg of raw material

$0.36-0.5 – Sisal hemp fiber (, 2022)

$0.5 – 0.6 – Sisal hemp fiber (, 2022)

Example manufacturing process from raw material to finished goods

Here’s how clothing can be made from hemp:

hemp clothing production process

Harvested hemp leaves proceed to retting to separate their fibers from the bark and soak in the field for 4-6 weeks. The fibers are treated to get them clean from impurities and then rendered into weavable fibers before being spun into yarn to produce clothes (Mello, 2022).


jute biodegradable production materials

What is jute?

Jute is one of the most important fibers used in the manufacturing of bio-composites, [natural fabrics, bags, and more]. Jute belongs to the bast fibre family, like hemp, and is normally grown in the tropical areas of China, Bangladesh, India, and Indonesia. It is considered to be one of the most produced fibers in the world (Ahsan Ashraf et al., 2019).

The fibre occurs on the outside of the plant’s stem and is separated from the woody core during production [in a similar way used for industrial hemp].

Common applications

During the Industrial Revolution, jute yarn largely replaced flax and hemp fibres in sackcloth. Today, sacking still makes up the bulk of manufactured jute products.  A key feature of jute is its ability to be used either independently or blended with a range of other fibres and materials (, 2022).

Therefore, jute is used in a wide variety of goods. Jute mats and prayer rugs are common in the East, as are jute-backed carpets worldwide. Jute’s single largest use, however, is in sacks and bags, those of finer quality being called burlap, or hessian (, 2022). Furthermore, jute is also used as a vegetable, geo-textile, biogas, and in biodegradable products (Shahidul Islam & Kamal Ahmed, 2012).

Production material source

Jute is extracted from the bark of the white jute plant (Corchorus Capsularis) and to a lesser extent from Tossa jute (C. Olitorius). It is a natural fiber with a golden and silky shine, hence called ‘The Golden Fiber.’ Jute is an annual crop taking about 120 days (April/May-July/August) to grow (, 2022).

Biodegradation rate

Jute biodegrades in 8-13 months (Daria et al., 2020)

Environmental impact (during production etc)

Jute fiber and its products are more environmentally friendly than synthetic fibers. The [wood] stem portion of jute can also be used as a particle and composite and so reduces the dependency on wood as a fuel which, in turn, reduces deforestation (Shahidul Islam & Kamal Ahmed, 2012). 

Jute is grown naturally and retted to separate the fibers from the stems. All this requires is time and weather, so it’s a pretty environmentally-friendy production process for the fiber until it is processed.


Jute fiber is 100% biodegradable and recyclable and thus environmentally friendly. A hectare of jute plants consumes about 15 tonnes of carbon dioxide and releases 11 tonnes of oxygen. Cultivating jute in crop rotations enriches the fertility of the soil for the next crop. Jute also does not generate toxic gases when burnt (, 2022). Jute fiber has drawn attention as reinforcement for [synthetic] composite materials due to its biodegradability, high strength-to-weight ratio and good thermal insulation properties (Ali et al., 2015). Jute fiber is also an excellent alternative when strength, thermal conductivity, and cost are major concerns (Wang et al., 2019).


Jute fiber has low moisture tolerance. The higher moisture absorption of these fibers can hinder their composites causing swelling and maceration of the fibres, thus significantly decreasing their mechanical properties. Therefore, the jute reinforcement in its original form does not fully contribute to the properties of the resulting composite. [It must be] modified either physically or chemically to improve the compatibility between the fiber and the polymer matrix (Ali et al., 2015).

Price/kg of raw material

$0.5 – $0.6 – Jute fiber (, 2022)

$0.89 – 1.17 – Jute fiber (, 2022)

Example manufacturing process from raw material to finished goods

Same as hemp, jute also has a retting process to separate its fibers. To make yarn from jute fiber several processes are required such as batching, carding, drawing, etc. Batching involves treating the retted jute fiber with an emulsion of oil in water which softens the fiber through the removal of lignin.

The oil in the emulsion forms a thin protective layer around the fiber which prevents rapid evaporation of water and acts as a lubricant thus reducing fiber breakage in various stages of jute processing.

After batching, the softened jute is sent through the carding, drawing and spinning stages which help to untangle and draw the jute fibers and spin them into threads, also known as yarn.

Cassava Starch

cassava starch

What is cassava starch?

Cassava, (Manihot Esculenta), also called manioc, mandioca, or yuca, is a tuberous edible plant of the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae) from the American tropics. It is cultivated throughout the tropical world for its tuberous roots, from which cassava flour, bread, tapioca, laundry starch, and an alcoholic beverage are derived (, 2022). Its starch has been used in the production of bioplastics, fuel, textiles, and more, too.

Common applications

cassava bioplastic bag

Image source:, 2022

In the food industry, cassava starch offers certain advantages over other starches as a texturizer. First, it is relatively inexpensive. Second, it has a low gelatinization temperature and produces relatively clear high-viscosity pastes. Third, its bland taste makes it preferable as an additive for processed foods with mild flavors. In non-food industries, cassava starch is used in fuel-ethanol production, paper and textile production, and in the pharmaceutical industry as an inert carrier (, 2018).

Cassava is also an ideal material for bioplastics. Several companies such as Avani and Wave created bioplastic bags from cassava root starch. The material properties allow the bag to dissolve in hot water and degrade in soil (, 2022; Ho, 2019).

Production material source

Cassava is one of the world’s major starch crops. It is a perennial shrub in the Euphorbiaceae family and is commercially cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions. Its swollen storage roots are rich in starch and represent an important food source for hundreds of millions of people. In South and Southeast Asia, 40% of the cassava harvest is used to produce extracted starch and, in 2014, the international trade of cassava starch and flour was estimated at 8.5 million tons  (, 2018).

Biodegradation rate

Cassava starch biodegrades in 3 to 6 months (Ho, 2019).

Environmental impact (during production etc)

The effects of cassava processing on the environment were odour, flies, mosquito dust, cyanide, carbon compound and wastewater. The technologies adopted by the processor in order to abate pollution were the use of collection pits, heap and burn, use of protective devices, source of fuel and dumping in the farm. The determinant factors for adoption of the technologies to abate pollution were the education of the processors, credit, and membership of organization, processing experience and extension services. (Ume et al., 2019).


[Aside from being an important foodstuff], the natural cassava starch-based plastic alternative is fully biodegradable and compostable. It is instantly dissolvable in water at temperatures of 80 degrees Celsius and higher, and will also naturally decompose in cold water within 3 months, leaving behind non-toxic drinkable water (Ho, 2019). Cassava starch in general is one of the more popular biodegradable production materials that is sustainable and natural.


Bioplastics from cassava starch in particular have two main disadvantages compared with synthetic polymers: a high water affinity and poor mechanical performance. According to Asrofi, the composite bioplastic films have major disadvantages such as low mechanical properties, bad thermal stability and high moisture absorption (around 80%) due to their hydrophilic properties (Asrofi et al., 2021).

Price/kg of raw material

$ 0.4 – 0.45 – Cassava starch (, 2022)

$ 0.495 – Cassava starch (, 2022)

Example manufacturing process from raw material to finished goods

Here you’ll see how bioplastics are produced, including those using cassava starch:

cassava starch bioplastic production for biodegradable production materials

Bioplastics made entirely of plant-based starches are brittle. Plasticizers such as glycerol, glycol, and sorbitol can be added to starch to allow it to be thermoplastically treated. The properties of the resulting bioplastic (also known as “thermoplastic starch”) can be modified for different applications by changing the quantities of these elements. Traditional polymer processing techniques such as extrusion, injection moulding, compression moulding, and solution casting can be used to convert starch into bioplastic products (Vagner, 2021; Kripalani, 2020).

Coconut husk

coconut husk

What is coconut husk?

Coir, seed-hair fibre obtained from the outer shell, or husk, of the coconut. The coarse, stiff, reddish-brown fiber is made up of smaller threads, each about 0.03 to 0.1 cm (0.01 to 0.04 inch) long and 12 to 24 microns (a micron is about 0.00004 inch) in diameter, composed of lignin, a woody plant substance, and cellulose. India and Sri Lanka are the top global coir producers (, 2022).

Common applications

cocoform packaging made from biodegradable production materials

Image source: Herrera, 2021

The fibers from coconut husks, which are known as coir, are actually incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of different products. Perhaps the most straightforward is one coconut husk chips, which are, quite literally, small ‘chips’ of coconut husk that look a bit like garden mulch. It’s a popular planting medium used in place of peat to help plants retain moisture and resist fungal growth. Coir is often used to make doormats and brushes, which the fibrous material is perfect for. It can also be used to make twine, particleboard, and sustainable packaging material, and is even a component in mattresses and floor tiles. Some companies, though, are taking it a step further and using a composite material made from coconut husks and recycled plastic to create automotive trunk liners, living wall planters, and electric car battery pack covers (, 2019).

Since 1932, the German company Enkev has been producing products from natural fibres that can be used as fillings and coverings for mattresses and springs, as well as for packaging. One of its most successful lines is COCOFORM, which includes trays, boxes or containers made of coconut fibre and an organic adhesive. These containers are waterproof and highly resistant to shocks (Herrera, 2021).

Production material source

Coconut husk is commonly generated as a waste product of coconut agriculture. When coconuts are processed on a commercial scale, the shells and husks are discarded [and become this particular biodegradable production material] (, 2017).

Biodegradation rate

Coconut husk biodegrades in 6–36 months (Daria et al., 2020)

Environmental impact (during production etc)

In the traditional production of coir fiber from coconut husks, the fiber extraction step has the highest negative impact on the environment. After (manually) separating the husk from the nut, the husks are soaked and retted for various periods of time (3-6 months) in ponds or backwaters and lagoons. The microbial fermentation process pollutes the surface water and releases methane gas, which is contributing (28 times more than CO2) to the greenhouse effect. The result of the retting process is that the fibers are softened and can be extracted from the surrounding pith much easier. Instalment of controlled biological wastewater treatment systems and recycling of process water could avoid much of the pollution (van Dam & Bos, 2004). However, with technological development, the extraction can be done mechanically.


A company named Whole Tree decided to research the uses of coconut husks and eventually came up with a plan to reuse them as a packaging alternative to plastics. Coconut husks are rich in lignin, [a rigid and durable natural polymer], and comes with natural burn resistance – a commendable quality for packaging materials. Coconut shells are also a biodegradable alternative to hard plastics, and they are [often] several times stronger than plastics (, 2017). 

According to Vos’ research, pallets that are made from coconut husks are lighter, stronger, save space, and are fire-resistant. They also do not attract termites, unlike wood pallets. The coconut husk pallets are cheaper and more sustainable (Barrett, 2019).


Coconut husks must be imported from places like Sri Lanka, where they are considered to be waste. Expending the resources and energy to ship these husks worldwide is not good for the environment. But the process of reusing something that would otherwise go to waste may help offset that drawback (Smyth, 2022).

Price/kg of raw material

$0.15 – 0.33 – Coconut husk peat (, 2022)

$0.5 – $1 – Raw coconut husk (, 2022)

Example manufacturing process from raw material to finished goods

The picture explains the production process of coconut fiber mat from coconut husk:

coconut husk mat production

Coconut Husk must be treated with a coconut husk processor to extract its fibers.
The fiber is then processed with machines to be punched and sprayed with latex. After that, the semi-finished products are dried and run through surface flating and sheeting machines (Feroz, et al., 2012).

Sugarcane (Polylactic acid/ PLA)

sugarcane biodegradable production materials

What is sugarcane & PLA?

Sugarcane is a species of tall, perennial grass (in the genus Saccharum, tribe Andropogoneae) that is used for sugar production. The plants are 2–6 m (6–20 ft) tall with stout, jointed, fibrous stalks that are rich in sucrose. Sugarcanes belong to the grass family, Poaceae, an economically important plant family that includes maize, wheat, rice, and sorghum. It is native to the warm temperate and tropical regions of India, Southeast Asia, and New Guinea. (Wikipedia, 2022).

Sugarcane can be used as a plastic alternative by utilising its Polylactic Acid (PLA) starch material [which is a natural polymer]. PLA can either be made by extracting sugar from plants like corn and sugarcane to convert into polylactic acids (PLAs) [a natural thermoplastic polymer that can be used to create bioplastic products] (Gibbens, 2018).

Common applications

sugarcane pla cutlery

Besides being extracted for its juice, the plant is also grown for biofuel production, especially in Brazil, as the canes can be used directly to produce ethyl alcohol (ethanol). The by-products from cane sugar processing, namely the straw and bagasse (cane fibres), can be used to produce cellulosic ethanol, a second-generation biofuel (Yamane, 2022). 

Sugarcane can also be used to produce Polylactic Acid (PLA). PLA is a bioplastic generally derived from [sugarcane] that can be used for a myriad of different purposes including cold drink cups, deli and takeout containers, and fresh produce packaging. PLA plastic is commonly used in food packaging [and 3D printing] (, 2015). 

Sugarcane is a good option for petroleum plastic alternatives. British plastic manufacturer RPC M&H Plastics has developed a range of sustainable, flexible packaging options – such as tubes and bottles – made from sugarcane. Danish toymaker Lego has started production on a range of plant-based plastic pieces made from sugarcane. Also produced using sugarcane-derived ethanol, the sustainable polyethylene is soft, durable and flexible, with little difference from the plastic used for traditional Lego bricks  (Frost, 2018).

Production material source

Sugarcane, (Saccharum officinarum), is a perennial grass of the family Poaceae, primarily cultivated for its juice from which sugar is processed. Most of the world’s sugarcane is grown in subtropical and tropical areas (Yamane, 2022).

Biodegradation rate

Sugarcane PLA will biodegrade within 180 days – under specific conditions (Kumar Kalitaa et al., 2021).

Environmental impact (during production etc)

Production of PLA from sugarcane has a potential [environmental]impact from the plantation. The sugarcane crop production particularly affected the environmental impact categories analyzed, including global warming potential (GWP), water, eutrophication, acidification, particulate matter and, inevitably, land use. Sugarcane production accounts for 76% of the impact on marine eutrophication and 50% of terrestrial eutrophication, driven by fertilizer and manure use (Morão & de Bie, 2019). Biomass can also be produced as a waste of PLA production from sugarcane, which eventually contributes to the increase of greenhouse gases.


Polylactic acid (PLA) is the most widely used commercial bio-based plastic with characteristics similar to polystyrene, polypropylene, or polyethylene. PLA has a growing range of applications depicting improved product functionalities over traditional polymers, for example reducing the printing temperature for 3D printing filaments and extending shelf life for fresh vegetables packaged in PLA film (Morão & de Bie, 2019).


Polylactic Acid (PLA) can be degraded in soil under some specific conditions only, [so it is not as readily biodegradable as other natural products. It will typically degrade when composted at home or commercially.] (, 2022).

Price/kg of raw material

$1.5 – PLA bioplastic (, 2022)

Example manufacturing process from raw material to finished goods

Using the same process as cassava starch, sugarcane can be extracted using the same process to produce bioplastic products. Traditional polymer processing techniques such as extrusion, injection moulding, compression moulding, and solution casting can be used to convert its starch into PLA bioplastic products (Vagner, 2021; Kripalani, 2020).


What is soy?

Soybean, (Glycine max), also called soja bean or soya bean, annual legume of the pea family (Fabaceae) and its edible seed. The soybean is economically the most important bean in the world, providing vegetable protein for millions of people (Britannica, 2022).

Soybean is a good candidate for manufacturing a large number of chemicals, including biodegradable plastics, as it is abundantly available and cheap. Soy protein concentrate, isolate, or flakes could be compounded with synthetic biodegradable plastics such as polycaprolactone or poly (lactic acid) to make molded products. edible films, or shopping bags and make the environment cleaner and greener (Swain, S.N et al, 2004).

Common applications

soy bioplastic biodegradable production materials applications

Most biodegradable soybean plastics consist of disposable food service and tableware products and packaging, including grocery and trash bags. They can be produced from soybean protein and are sensitive to high temperatures and humidity or water (Echolls, 2017). Other products made from soya bean-derived plastic include clothing, shoe soles, cushions, and mattresses (Zoppi, 2019).

Most of the soy protein films are based on soy protein isolate (SPI), which is a highly refined soy protein containing a minimum of 90% protein and is made from soy flour, removing the great mass of non-protein components, carbohydrates and fats through isoelectric precipitation. Soy protein films also can be made from soy flour, soymilk and fractioned proteins (, 2019).

Biodegradation rate

There is limited information on the soy plastic biodegradation rate. However, one source did mention that ‘Soy-based plastics that do biodegrade do so at a rate similar to that of paper’ (Smith, 2018).

Environmental impact (during production etc)

Bio-based materials may exert higher environmental impacts than their petroleum-based counterparts in the categories of eutrophication (harmful algae growth in waterways that pollutes and damages them thanks to fertilisers, etc) and stratospheric ozone depletion [due to methane given off during the production of the crop]. In addition, most bio-based materials have environmental impacts caused by the application of pesticides during the cultivation of biomass. With regard to acidification (savings of 2 ± 20 kg sulfur dioxide equivalents/t) and photochemical ozone formation (savings of 0.3 ± 2.4 kg ethene equivalents/t) the studies found high variability as seen from the given data and were inconclusive (, 2022).


Soy protein plastics have flow properties that are comparable to fossil fuel-based plastics. Soy plastics are processed at much lower temperatures, however, yielding energy savings over synthetic plastics during processing. These comparable flow properties make soy protein plastics a viable drop-in replacement for synthetic resins; no new capital investments by plastics manufacturers are required to utilise soy protein plastics in their products either [as the same equipment can be used, for example] (gov.epa.cfpub, 2022).

Even though soya-based plastic is known for its high levels of water sensitivity, which has proved problematic [in some applications]. This ability to absorb large amounts of water is beneficial when soya-based plastic is used in products such as diapers or sanitary towels (Zoppi, 2019).


Poor thermoplasticity, water-resistance, and brittleness are some of the main reasons for soy bioplastic’s limited use. Plasticizers are commonly used to develop thermoplastic products and also to improve flexibility. However, adding plasticizers, which are usually hydrophilic substances, makes soy protein more vulnerable to water (, 2022).

Price/kg of raw material

$7.00 – as Polycaprolactone (, 2022)

$4.70 – as Polycaprolactone (, 2022)

Example manufacturing process from raw material to finished goods

Same as cassava and sugarcane, soybean starch can be extracted using the same process to produce bioplastic products. Traditional polymer processing techniques such as extrusion, injection moulding, compression moulding, and solution casting can be used to convert its starch into bioplastic products (Vagner, 2021; Kripalani, 2020).


What are algae?

Algae, singular alga, are members of a group of predominantly aquatic photosynthetic organisms of the kingdom Protista. Algae have many types of life cycles, and they range in size from microscopic Micromonas species to giant kelps that reach 60 metres (200 feet) in length. Their photosynthetic pigments are more varied than those of plants, and their cells have features not found among plants and animals (Andersen, 2022). Algae are similar to plants, but they don’t have the roots, stems, and leaves as seen in most terrestrial plants.

Common applications

In addition to their ecological roles as oxygen producers and as the food base for almost all aquatic life, algae are economically important as a source of crude oil, food, and a number of pharmaceutical and industrial products for humans (Andersen, 2022). 

Algae can also be a raw material for bioplastic production (, 2022). In one case, ​​Chile-based designer, Margarita Talep, was inspired to develop her own eco-friendly packaging – a sustainable, biodegradable alternative to single-use packaging, using raw material extracted from algae. Talep’s algae packaging is designed to biodegrade in around two to four months (Steffen, 2019). 

Algae produce a variety of base materials that can be used for bioplastics production. The production of bioplastic from algae can be achieved through cultivating, harvesting and drying algae so that its starch can become the raw material for bioplastics. We can then turn that starch into a polymer that can be used in 3D printing (, 2022).

Biodegradation rate

Algae bioplastics will biodegrade in around 1-2 weeks as bioplastic films (A Guru Moorthy et al, 2020), or 2-4 months as solid bioplastic.

Environmental impact (during production etc)

In general, the environmental benefits of microalgae-based production are inconclusive, though researchers often note the improvement potential of microalgal production systems. Synergies for example could be achieved through biorefineries producing multiple products and the optimization of cultivation techniques. Potential improvements to the overall LCA scores by utilizing microalgal waste for bioplastic production are also conceivable. Currently, microalgae production systems mainly shine in terms of reduced land usage (, 2020)


When used as food packaging, not only is [algae-based packaging] biodegradable; it’s also edible. If thrown away, it only takes a few weeks to break down (Totaro, 2022).


The major drawback is the energy cost associated with the production process  (Totaro, 2022). The production cost is through the roof because of the necessary consumption of labour and water. There’s also the energy needed to circulate gases in photobioreactors where algae can grow as well as dry out the biomass. Producing fuel from algae grown in ponds at scale would cost between $240 to $332 per barrel, which isn’t plausible compared to the inexpensive [fossil oil-based] plastics we use today (Moloo, 2021).

Price/kg of raw material

$19.00 – $24.00 – as algae powder (, 2022)

$18.00-$30.00 – as algae powder (, 2022)

Example manufacturing process from raw material to finished goods

Bioplastics can be made from powdered algae, here’s how:

algae bioplastic production

Microalgae consortium was used to remove Nitrogen and Phosphorus from wastewater. The residual biomass was harvested by centrifugation at 8500 rpm for 10 min. Then dried for 24 h at 35 degrees C, and finally pulverized. Harvest and drying of microalgae biomass resulted in a [powder] rich in protein. Pharma grade glycerol, used as a plasticizer, and microalgae biomass are mixed into a homogeneous blend. Microalgae based bioplastics are then obtained through injection molding. After that, tensile, rheological and water uptake properties of bioplastics were assessed (López Rocha, et al., 2020).

Cardboard (for packaging)

What is cardboard?

Cardboard, also known as corrugated cardboard, is a specially engineered material made from paper pulp. It’s made up of different components that work together to make it strong, lightweight and versatile. You might recognise the wavy shape of its distinctive fluting (or corrugation). This is often sandwiched between two layers of board [and provides strength and insulation] (, 2022).

Common applications

Cardboard is so widely used that almost all items we buy have been wrapped in cardboard packaging at some point during their lifetime (, 2022). 

Cardboard can be used to store food and drink (cardboard milk cartons, for instance), and in particular cases, cardboard drums are even used to transport hazardous chemicals, pharmaceuticals and dangerous waste. The list goes on – cardboard boxes are used by individuals, small-scale businesses, and massive industrial companies (, 2021).

Source of material

The composition of corrugated cardboard consists of a paper pulp material. Pulp is predominately made from timber, however, it can also be created using recycled woodchips and shavings left over from lumber mill waste.

The board itself is made from a combination of two sheets of paper called liners that are glued together with an adhesive to a corrugated inner medium otherwise called a fluting.

All three layers of paper are assembled in a way that creates an overall structure that is robust. The connected arches are fantastic for supporting strong weights and the air circulating in the flutes acts as an insulator, providing extra protection against changes in temperature (Hulley, 2017).

Biodegradation rate

Cardboard biodegrades in ± 3 months (, 2017).

Environmental impact (during production etc)

Making the pulp from trees for use in corrugated cardboard creates sulfur dioxide pollution. However, recycling corrugated cardboard into new products cuts the pollution generated by half (, 2022). If responsibly farmed wood is used, deforestation is not an issue.


As a packaging, cardboard is an excellent, cost-effective solution for various storage and packaging needs. Offering a surprisingly high level of protection, cardboard boxes and cardboard drums are great value, incredibly versatile and environmentally friendly (, 2021).

As a natural source, cardboard breaks down and discharges carbon into the soil. It will decompose or break down naturally. After it degrades, it can function as compost for other organic materials (, 2021). In the UK, more than 80% of corrugated packaging is recycled, a higher rate than any other major packaging material (Hulley, 2017). Recycled cardboard and wrapping sheets are all readily available, being industry standard and made from earth-friendly organic materials. Using them can have an instantly positive impact on the environment, as millions of tons of cardboard boxes are thrown away as garbage every year. Using recycled cardboard and paper will lessen this load and can decompose easily, keeping the planet healthy (, 2019).


Cardboard is not for extremely heavy items. If the wrong carton size or insufficient padding is used, cardboard shipping cartons may not be effective with weighty items. It may deform under pressure. Despite its strength, cardboard can be crushed, dented, or otherwise damaged under some conditions. It also is not weatherproof (, 2020).

Cardboard can undergo drop testing, atmospheric conditioning testing, compression testing, and others to assess its ability to be used to carry a certain weight without losing structural integrity, though.

Price/kg of raw material

$ 0.875 – Wood pulp (, 2020)

$ 0.834 – Bleached paper pulp (, 2021)

Example manufacturing process from raw material to finished goods

Here’s how corrugated cardboard is produced:

corrugated cardboard production

To produce custom corrugated cardboard for packaging, manufacturers will use a corrugated board cutting off machine, which cuts the corrugated board into required sheets. After it turns into a corrugated box blank, there are three steps: printing, slotting & creasing, and stitching or glueing (, 2022).

Mycelium Foam

Mycelium Foam biodegradable production materials

What is mycelium foam?

Mycelium is the root-like structure that extends out of fungi and underneath the outer layer of the cap. However, the product called mycelium is a bio-engineered form of hyphae [a long, branching, fungal structure] that is made from agricultural waste mixed with these root-like structures as binding agents (Flagel, 2020).

Common applications

In practice, mycelium can be used to create a variety of things, from organic plastics to scaffolding that can be used to grow organs – though its most common and useful commercial application is in the form of packaging. Mycelium foam can be used in the same manner as polystyrene foam and, for many companies, it has become a popular material of choice (Flagel, 2020).

mycelium foam products

Image source: Flagel, 2020

IKEA, furthering its commitment to sustainable innovation, has decided to replace styrofoam with mushroom bioplastics. Developed by product design company Ecovative Design, the mycelium-based material is called Mushroom Packaging, or MycoComposite (Barrett, 2020).

Source of material

Mycelium is mainly composed of natural polymers such as chitin, cellulose, proteins, etc, so it is a natural polymeric composite fibrous material.


Due to its unique structure and composition, we foresee the production of large amounts of mycelium-based materials (Haneef, M. et al, 2017).

Biodegradation rate

Mycelium foam biodegrades within 16 weeks (Van Wylick, et al., 2022).

Environmental impact (during production etc)

Mycelium composites are manufactured using a low-energy, natural manufacturing process, which sequesters carbon and is one of the key advantages of these materials. The raw material required as a precursor can realistically constitute any material that can sustain fungal growth, such as carbohydrates. Low-cost lignocellulosic agricultural or forestry by-products or wastes are commonly used as fibrous substrates, such as straw, or particulate substrates, such as sawdust, to keep the cost of mycelium composites low and to facilitate waste upcycling and circular economy (Mitchell Jones, et al., 2020).

Usage of these cheap, low-grade materials as substrates, while keeping costs low and environmental sustainability high, has the unfortunate side effect of limiting fungal growth and hence compromises the material properties of the composite. Although this compromise is acceptable for the production of foam-like mycelium composites, higher grade and more expensive substrates such as nutritious wheat grains and sawdust are sometimes used when mechanical properties are a priority (Mitchell Jones, et al., 2020).


Mycelium-derived materials have several key advantages over traditional synthetic materials including their low cost, density and energy consumption in addition to their biodegradability and low environmental impact and carbon footprint (Mitchell Jones, et al., 2020).

Unlike metal alloy or polymer composites that require energy or complex equipment to melt the raw materials and mix different parts, one can uniformly mix various components in the form of small pieces to form the substrate before growing mycelium, which naturally binds and integrates the elements during its growth (Zhang & Elser, 2021)


The main disadvantage of mycelium composites for insulation applications is their moisture uptake (40–580 wt%), which is much higher than those of polystyrene (0.03–9 wt%), polyurethane (0.01–72 wt%) and phenolic formaldehyde resin (1–15 wt%) foams, and could be a serious problem in leaking wall or roof cavities. Like untreated wood products, mycelium composites also do not offer much termite resistance, which could be a problem in termite afflicted countries.
Another significant problem with mycelium composites compared to synthetic foams and wood products is their very slow manufacturing process, which takes days to months to complete compared to synthetic foams and wood products, which can be produced in minutes to days depending on their manufacturing and curing processes (
Mitchell Jones, et al., 2020).

Price/kg of raw material

$10.00 – $50.00 as mycelium powder (, 2022)

$ 25.00 – $60.00 as mycelium powder (, 2022)

Example manufacturing process from raw material to finished goods

Here’s how mycelium foam boards can be produced:

mycelium foam production process

According to Raut, a fungal based biopolymer composite was obtained after the cultivation of Ganoderma lucidum macromycetes on a mixture including wheat straws and polypropylene embedded with spores from Bacillus amyloliquefaciens. Wheat straws (90% w/w) and strips of polypropylene embedded with bacterial spores (10% w/w) were mixed in a plastic autoclavable bag, moistened with 200 mL of nutrient solution (per each board), and inoculated with mycelial fragments of Ganoderma cultures on nutrient agar medium.
Polypropylene strips (0.5 cm × 0.5 cm) were sterilized with 70% ethanol, rinsed with sterile water and then exposed to UV radiation for 10 min. The final size of the material board was 30 × 30 × 1.5 cm (height). The mixture was placed in a rectangular wooden shape and incubated at 30 °C for 30–35 days. After that period, the boards were sterilized in an autoclave to kill any hyphae or biological material in the composite and dried in a convection oven at a temperature of 80 °C, for 5 to 10 h, until their weight stabilized. The decrease in board weight after drying was about 5–7% (w/w) (Iuliana Răut, et al., 2021).

Palm Leaf

palm leaf

What is palm leaf?

Palm trees are any member of the Arecaceae, or Palmae, the single family of monocotyledonous flowering plants of the order Arecales. The great centres of palm distribution are in America and in Asia from India to Japan and south to Australia and the islands of the Pacific and Indian oceans, with Africa and Madagascar as a third but much less important palm region (Moore, 2022).

The leaves and leaf sheaths of the trees are used as one of today’s biodegradable production materials and are, of course, sustainable and eco-friendly materials.

Common applications

palm leaf products

Image source:, 2022

Palm leaves are used in a variety of ways in domestic economies. Examples of palm leaf products are rugs/mats, kitchen utensils (mat-shaped tray known as Sama, used with food to protect it from insects), and home decorations (Moore, 2022;, 2022).

Palm leaves from the Areca plant are one of many esoteric materials that have wound up in the global supply chain for the $27-billion disposable tableware industry as a sustainable alternative to plastic. Areca palm trees are abundant in peninsular India, where 80% of the areca nut crop is grown. Traditionally, leaf sheaths were treated as agricultural waste and burned. Their transformation into chic, durable dinnerware for export is a relatively recent phenomenon. Nobu Matsuhisa, an acclaimed chef, praised them in a product testimonial saying their natural and sleek design is the perfect canvas to showcase any chef’s creations. (, 2018).

Source of material

[This material comes from the] palm tree! Any of about 2,800 species of flowering, subtropical trees, shrubs, and vines that make up the family Arecaceae (or Palmae). The fast growth and many by-products of palms make exploitation of the rainforest appealing to agribusiness. The usually tall, unbranched, columnar trunk is crowned by a tuft of large, pleated, fan- or feather-shaped leaves, with often prickly petioles (leafstalks), the bases of which remain after the leaves drop, often covering the trunk. Trunk height and diameter, leaf length, and seed size vary greatly. Small flowers are produced in large clusters. Among the most important palms are the sugar palm (Arenga pinnata, or A. saccharifera), coconut palm, date palm, and cabbage palmetto (Moore, 2022).

Biodegradation rate

Palm leaf biodegrades in 3-6 months (, 2022).

Environmental impact (during production etc)

Transportation and electricity production are the life cycle stages responsible for most of the environmental impact [of palm leaf material production]. For example, carbon footprints of 1180, 1033 and 1090 kg CO2eq/ ton of shipped materials were obtained for respectively Areca palm boxes, plates and bowls (Anirudh Gautam, et al., 2020).

Palm plantations can sometimes result in deforestation to make room for more palm, especially in rainforests or old-growth forests.


At the end of their life, palm leaf products are biodegradable and can be collected to grow mushrooms or used for gardening (Anirudh Gautam, et al., 2020), as well as producing Areca dinnerware (bowls, trays, etc).


The effects of leaf harvest, even at maximum harvest rate, on leaf production over the four-year study period appear negligible although there was a slight decline over time in leaf production of trees subjected to high harvest intensity (McKean, 2003).

Palm leaves are collected to be incinerated or disposed of in landfills [much of the time, instead of being used as a raw production material]. A disposal scenario of 20% incineration and 80% landfilling was assumed (Anirudh Gautam, et al., 2020).

The inconvenient truth about popular, sustainable palm leaves materials like areca leaf, is that they are rarely composted. Areca dinnerware was a part of this waste reduction effort because, even if they are not composted, when they are combined in regular waste streams they will break down more quickly than plastics. However, the end-of-life for these plates and bowls in a landfill is anything but green. A byproduct of their decay is methane, a greenhouse gas roughly 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide (, 2018).

Price/kg of raw material

$0.037/piece leaf – Areca palm leaf (, 2022)

Example manufacturing process from raw material to finished goods

The production of dinnerware using palm leaves is eco-friendly:

palm leaf dinerware production

Fallen leaves and water are the basic raw materials to produce plates from palm leaves. The leaves fall naturally from the Areca nut palm plant. Picked from the ground, raw leaves are washed clean in spring water, then heat-pressed into desired shapes and sun-dried to harden. This process sterilizes the leaf and uses no additives. When the plate cools down it hardens to a form, which can endure even a harder use than the original material (, 2022).


What is Mirum?

MIRUM® is a USDA 100% Certified Biobased vegan leather made with plants, and with zero petrochemical derivatives (Maroday, 2021).

Common applications

mirum products

Image sources: Maroday, 2021 and, 2022

MIRUM® is a categorically new, plant-based material that is perfect for footwear, fashion, automotive, accessories, and more (, 2022).

Source of material

MIRUM® uses plant-based materials. Such as coconut husk fiber (called coir), natural rubber, and cork powder. An important ingredient in MIRUM is the Natural Fiber Welding patented plant-based curative. In material science, the curing process imparts a material with durability, toughness, and/or enhanced resistance to premature degradation. The chemistry used in the curing process is called a curative. The patented curative is entirely plant-based and sourced from renewable feedstocks. This is in contrast to standard curatives for natural rubber which rely on petrochemical additives and sulfur chemistry which result in an irreversible reaction (, 2021).

Biodegradation rate

MIRUM® is engineered to be long-lasting and durable. MIRUM® outperforms on a number of performance metrics, ranging from mechanical to chemical properties (e.g., toughness while being water-resistant). [It is not conventionally biodegradable but can be ground up and reformed into new Mirum, though.]

Inherent in the discussion of durability is the tradeoff between durable, long-lasting materials, and materials that readily biodegrade. No one wants their designer handbag to degrade in a matter of months. You want your products to last (, 2022).

Environmental impact (during production etc)

The MIRUM manufacturing process does not require additional water inputs besides what is represented in the natural ingredients. No petrochemical adhesives are used to ‘glue’ the fabric backer to MIRUM (, 2021). Based on these claims, it can be concluded that MIRUM has minimised its environmental impact to the lowest possible level.


MIRUM’s miraculous customizability means it can look like leather or carbon fiber. MIRUM is a high-performance solution for designers and brands looking to shrink their footprint and expand their creative palettes. At the end of its life, MIRUM® can be recycled into new MIRUM® or ground up and returned to the earth. MIRUM also counts on a circular system, rather than adding to the planet’s waste and landfills (, 2022; Maroday, 2021).


It is not their goal to meet the rapid timeframe of biodegradability because that would mean compromising quality (, 2022), [therefore Mirum is one of the less biodegradable production materials in this list].

Example manufacturing process from raw material to finished goods

production process for mirum biodegradable production materials

The Mirum production process begins by selecting the right natural ingredients for the desired use case and aesthetic profile. Different ingredients impart the finished product with different qualities and attributes. Once the right ingredients have been selected, they are dry-mixed and mechanically formed into the desired shape. This means there is no effluent (e.g. wastewater) discharge generated from the making of MIRUM. During this step, an optional natural fabric backer can be added to the MIRUM sheet and a texture is embossed on the surface, to give MIRUM its final look and feel. The possibilities for surface embossing are basically endless, MIRUM is an extension of your creative expression (, 2021).


Conclusion: Why biodegradable production materials are becoming more popular

The biodegradable production materials you’ve seen here are becoming more popular these days, especially when environmental issues like climate change and scarcity of resources are taken into account. Many of the alternatives to these biodegradable materials are made from petrochemicals and use harmful chemicals for their curing and production; in addition, they aren’t biodegradable and you’ve got common production materials like oil-based plastics that are both harmful to the environment to produce and dispose of.

Biodegradable production materials have the following benefits:

  • They protect the environment
  • They are usually made from naturally-derived materials only
  • They biodegrade in the soil
  • They are as effective as their oil and chemical-based counterparts
  • They often produce fewer carbon emissions during production and while biodegrading
  • The biodegradable production materials often require less energy to produce
  • They’re safer for health than plastic products, as plastics are linked with many health issues such as cancer

In fact, many eco certifications reward manufacturers who choose to use environmentally-friendly materials and processes, and there’s the positive reputation it helps your business to gain, too. So even if, in some cases, biodegradable materials are more expensive than non-eco-friendly ones right now, some businesses see it as a wise investment given that consumers are increasingly turning to sustainable brands and products over those that they know are not.

If you need assistance to source manufacturers of biodegradable materials like these for your products, Sofeast can help identify the suppliers in Asia for you.


Additional resources

This is just one of Sofeast’s green manufacturing resources. Go to that page where we’ve also written and produced videos about:

  • Types of packaging, including how sustainable they are
  • Oil-based plastic alternatives
  • Ideas or producing eco-friendly products
  • Advantages of bioplastics
  • 7 negative effects of PVC and other environmentally harmful plastics

…and much more!


Editor’s note

This guide was produced by researching information about each of the biodegradable production materials. Excerpts from multiple sources have been quoted directly here with each source given on page and in this comprehensive list of references.

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