History of bioplastics

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Historically, the very first plastic materials used industrially by man were of natural origin.

Before mastering monomers obtained from refining oil, starting from the 1930s, several objects used in daily life were manufactured using biobased polymers.

The resources used were natural rubber (discovered in the 18th century), cellulose with Parkesine, Celluloid or even Cellophane at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century or even milk components like casein which resulted in the manufacturing of Galalith in 1897.

Decades later in 1947, Rilsan (or Polyamide 11) was the first technical bioplastic introduced on the market, with its excellent mechanical properties and chemical resistance.

It was then followed in the 1990s by bioplastics which are well-known today, PLA, PHAs or even plasticised starches which benefited from the rapid technical advances in green chemistry and white chemistry in recovery of biomass (starches, sugars, cellulose, etc.).

In addition to biobased and/or biodegradable polymers which are created regularly like PEF, the main developments are based on the diversification of the resources used to produce these materials, with the essential part of the work being focused on the reclamation of by-products or waste material from various biomasses.