Supposedly sustainable plastics fare no better in a life cycle analysis than those produced from crude oil. Therefore, we currently use them only very rarely as packaging material.

What are bioplastics?

The term «bioplastic» does not indicate that either the raw materials or the products are produced by organic agricultural methods.

Bioplastics (or biopolymers) are a range of plastics that exhibit specific characteristics: some are biodegradable ("biodegradable plastics") while others are manufactured entirely or partly on the basis of a renewable raw material ("bio-based plastics"). Most types of bioplastic contain a certain amount of conventional plastic: depending on the required material properties, bioplastics may contain up to 80 percent fossil-based plastics, such as those produced from crude oil.

Our use of bioplastics

When assessing the use of bioplastics, we focus on the type of raw material and the potential of that raw material to compete with feed and food production. We differentiate between three groups of bioplastics. Their use is specified in the Guideline on Bioplastics.

Life cycle analysis contradictory

Life cycle analyses show that, even today, products and packaging made from bioplastics usually perform no better in environmental terms than those produced from fossil resources.

Origin of raw materials

Bio-based plastics can compete directly or indirectly with food production through land use. The agricultural methods used to produce the raw materials are also frequently linked to the consumption of resources, greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and use of genetic engineering. That is why we do not permit the use of packaging and products based on bioplastics that may compete with food production for branded and own-label brand products.

Some bio-based plastics are manufactured from raw materials that are not suitable as food or feed, and are not in even indirect competition with food production. This is the case with, for example, lignocellulose (wood or by-products from agriculture or the timber industry), waste from the food industry (such as bagasse) and municipal waste (organic waste, wastewater). Bioplastics based on these raw materials may potentially be used, provided that they meet our criteria for environmentally friendly packaging and do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMO).


Biodegradation does not always make sense as a method of disposal. Bioplastics often take considerably longer to biodegrade in processing plants than under the laboratory conditions required for their certification. What's more, bioplastics do not supply the soil with any beneficial nutrients.

In exceptional cases, however, biodegradation may make sense. This is the case with products that, despite being used correctly, have a higher risk of finding their way into the environment and remaining there. These are mainly products that are unwittingly discharged into the environment (i.e. not the result of littering) – such as product labels on fruit and vegetables.