An obliged approach to solve the problem is: the valorisation of waste as a resource through its separation into specific fractions, to be transformed into new products with a certain market value; and the engineering of new materials with lower environmental impact, with particular attention to the energy consumption and the emissions in the atmosphere.
Biodegradable polymers constitute a new family of polymers designed to be degraded by living organisms. They offer a possible alternative to traditional non-biodegradable polymers when recycling is impractical or not economical, and they can be composted together with food and yard waste [1,2].
Biodegradable materials can be engineered to reduce the environmental impact in terms of emissions. Mater-Bi starch-based materials, as an example, offer an ideal combination of properties showing:
- complete biodegradability and compostability according to existing standards [3-5]
- significant contribution in terms of environmental impact, particularly with respect to CO2 emissions and
energy consumption in comparison with traditional materials in specific uses;
- in use performances and processibility similar to traditional plastics.
This paper reviews the main in-use properties and biodegradation behaviour of Mater-Bi products currently available in the market, the new developments and a case study for the assessment of the environmental impact of Mater-Bi bags for the separate collection of the organic waste in comparison with traditional polyethylene and paper bags.