In the food service sector, biodegradable materials are found in all forms: plates, cups, cutlery, napkins, bags, packaging for take-out services or even for on-site services, etc.
These products began to be manufactured in the 1990s as an alternative to plastic of petrochemical origin and also as an alternative for the valorization of biomass (starches, sugars, cellulose, etc.). The best known products today are PLA, PHAs or plasticized starches (1).
A priori, these products should be collected and composted with the biodegradable residues. However, not all so-called Bio or Biodegradable materials contain only Biodegradable products (2).
A material is biodegradable if it degrades completely under the action of microorganisms present in nature within a short period of time. During their degradation, biodegradable materials emit water, carbon dioxide (CO2) or methane (CH4). A biodegradable material can be made from renewable (bio-sourced) or non-renewable raw materials (polymers of fossil origin) (2).
The biodegradation time parameter is therefore important because for a product to qualify as biodegradable, the degradation must occur in a short time in relation to human time, and this independently of the raw material used for its manufacture (bio-based or fossil).
The world production of biodegradable materials is currently around 2 million tons per year and more than 53% of this production is dedicated to packaging (3).