What are bioplastics?

Bioplastics are a group of materials with varying mechanical properties and uses. A material can be defined as bioplastic based on one or more of the following characteristics:

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is biodegradable

This can generally be defined as materials which are able to be broken down into harmless products (normally carbon dioxide water and ammonia) by the action of living things (like enzymes and bacteria) in different environments (learn more here).
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is bio-based

Meaning that the material (at least in some percentage) plants (Biomass) instead of being derived from fossil fuels. These sources normally come from polysacharides, cellulose or other sources like food waste.
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Types of bioplastics

Depending on the above features, Bioplastics are grouped in three categories:

1. Materials that do both

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Materials which are Bio-based, biodegradable and compostable like Oimo Material lines, starch blends, PHA (polyhydroxyalkanaoates), PBS (polybutylene succinate). offer solutions with completely new functionalities such as biodegradability and compostability and in some cases optimised barrier properties.

2. Only bio-based

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Plastics which do not biodegrade but are Bio-based. They are durable plastics like PE (polyethylene) and PET (polyethylene terephthalate) can all have bio-based content and similar properties to their fossil-based references.

3. Biodegradable only

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These are fossil-based plastics which are biodegradable, for example PBAT.
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and compostability

Biodegradation in natural environments

What is the difference between Compostable and Biodegradable?

Simply put, biodegradation is a chemical process to break down a product. Compostability is a feature of Biodegradation that allows it to biodegrade under specific conditions. There are varying parameters for this, in Europe these are set by standards sush as Industrial composting EN 13432 and EN 14995.

Most importantly, Materials can be labelled as biodegradable or compostable but this doesn’t mean in every environment (the goal of all Oimo Material ranges).
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These can be disposed of in compost bins, and will compost in your garden without managed industrial conditions. It is worth noting that materials which are certified as Soil or Home Compostable are not guaranteed to be biodegradable if they end up in other environments. Marine Degradable Materials are most likely to be biodegradable in other environments as it is typically considered the most difficult environment for materials to biodegrade in. Oimo Material lines strive to meet the most diffcult degradation conditions fitting for each product it develops.
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Materials which are compostable but only in constant industrialy controlled conditions (heat, ph etc.). In many cases if they do not end up in this particular waste management system they can take an extended amount of time to degrade as is the case with fossil- based or durable plastics.

in natural environments

In addition to being compostable, materials can be designed to be biodegradable in specific environments in case they end out of waste management systems.


Products will completely biodegrade in the soil without negatively affecting the environment where it biodegrades.


Water degradable materials biodegrade in natural fresh water such as rivers and lakes. Look out for OK biodegradable Water certification from TUV Austria. Having biodegradability in fresh water doesn’t guarantee biodegrdability in marine conditions.


Have the ability to biodegrade in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions with no ecotoxic residues. They can be certified with the Ok Marine standard by TUV Austria with Tests undertaken according to ASTM D6691.
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