We are steadily moving away from our dependence on petroleum as it is both a finite resource and becoming more expensive. One trend has been to use biomass to create plastics similar to the petroleum plastics traditionally available. Athough there have been many hurdles along the way, such as meeting thermal barrier properties and increasing the biobased content of resins, the industry continues to impress with their innovative designs and solutions. Since the resins are made of biomass, products can be devised to biodegrade in different environments according to international standards.  The following table presents different resins available, examples of companies producing them, the percent biobased content of the resin and its biodegradability.

Resin Examples Biobased Content Biodegradable
Polylactic acid (PLA) Natureworks Ingeo 100% Compostable – ASTM D6400
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) Telles Mirel >90% Compostable – D6400 and Marine – ASTM D7081
Tianan 100%
Aliphatic-aromatic copolyesters (AAC) BASF EcoFlex 0% Compostable – ASTM D6400
IRE Chemical EnPol
AAC/Starch blends Novamont Mater-Bi Varies Compostable – ASTM D6400
AAC/PLA blends BASF Ecovio Varies (25–75%) Compostable – ASTM D6400
Cereplast Compostables Varies
Thermoplastic Starch (TPS) Cereplast Compostables Varies

[Both] Compostable – D6400

[Dupont] Marine – ASTM D7081

DuPont Biomax TPS
Polybutylene Succinate (PBS) Showa Bionelle ? Compostable – D6400
Polyamide 11 (PA 11) Arkema Rilsan 100% No
Bio-Polyolefins (bio-PO) Braskem 100% Neither
Polytrimethyleneterphthalate (PTT) DuPont Sorona 37% Neither
Dupont Biomax PTT
Polyamide 6,10 (PA6, 10) BASF Ultramid Balance 63% Neither
DuPont Zytel ?
Conventional plastic/bioplastic blends Cereplast hybrid resins Varies No
Polyether Block Amide Arkema Pebax Rnew 100% No

Courtesy of Steve Davies’ (SPI Bioplastics Council) presentation to 2011 US Composting Council Conference, “Overview and context, types of materials (compostable vs biodegradable vs recyclable).