This paper reviews recent results of the literature on Environmental Life Cycle Assessment (ELCA) regarding the ecological impacts of alternative and innovative feedstocks for the production of bio-based and biodegradable polymers. The analysis was undertaken for the following popular polymers / polymer classes: polylactic acid (PLA) and the family of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA). The purpose of the analysis is to support decision-making regarding the feedstock assumptions underlying the life cycles of the products later explored in the project BIO-PLASTICS EUROPE. For each polymer, the pros and cons of different classes of feedstocks are weighed, and specific attention to existing trade-offs between different environmental categories as well as to issues in the comparability of studies paid. An overview on research results concerning the environmental performance of the currently still dominating first generation of bioplastic feedstocks is given. For second- and third-generation feedstocks, the results of recent studies are investigated in detail and compared (as far as possible) to outcomes for the first generation.
Bioplastics Environmental Life Cycle Analysis Polymer feedstocks PHA PLA