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Sustainable biodegradable novel bio-based plastics: innovation for sustainability and end-of-life options of plastics


There is a need to develop innovative, sustainable bio-based and biodegradable plastics with novel properties and production processes to deliver environmentally friendly materials with the desired properties for long-term circular applications, markets and uses. The approach should combine environmental sustainability, circularity and functionality of the developed products and of the supply chain. Results should be aligned to recent policy developments on plastics.

Proposals should:

  1. Develop novel sustainable bio-based biodegradable plastics with enhanced functionalities, circularity and environmental sustainability, based on their non-toxic nature and improved end-of-life behaviour, for specific applications. The bio-based plastic should be mechanically recyclable and its biodegradability in specific environments should allow for a more sustainably managed end-of-life such as either composting or anaerobic digestion or home composting or in ‘in-situ’ degradation (i.e. natural soil and marine environments) depending on applications and conditions.
  2. Develop and optimise innovative aspects of the production process, for example green chemistry and/or fermentative production, especially with respect to catalysts, higher yield, bio-based plastic quality, while ensuring the sustainability of biological feedstock used in the manufacturing, including biological waste and residues, and of production processes, aiming at a low environmental footprint and economic viability.
  3. Test the biodegradability in the specific environment where the bio-based plastic developed for selected applications and conditions could end its life cycle, i.e. either composting plant or anaerobic digester, or home composting, or in ‘in-situ’ degradation (i.e. natural soil and marine environments);
  4. Consider process and product safety (i.e. production through to the use of a product) in value chains, especially for new products and materials, following national or EU regulations. The toxicological evaluation of products and the EU regulatory requirements for product safety should be systematically addressed as part of proposals/projects, in particular where uses may be linked to critical exposure routes (e.g. food contact materials).
  5. Demonstrate the scaled-up production processes and cost competitiveness for novel sustainable bio-based biodegradable plastics in order to reach a critical mass for a given bio-based plastic, to achieve economies of scale.

Proposals should include a task dedicated to sharing methodologies and findings with projects funded within this topic. Where relevant, proposals should seek links with and to capitalise on the results of past and other ongoing research projects. They should take a multidisciplinary approach, involving many stakeholders and fields of applications and considering various aspects along the bio-based plastics value chain, including EU rules on product safety. They should also consider contributing data and results to the European Commission’s Knowledge Centre for Bioeconomy hosted by the JRC.

For this topic the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content is not a mandatory requirement.