Innovation in bioplastics – based on global patent activity – is at its highest point for almost two decades, while investment in plastics recycling technology is accelerating, a new report says.
The inaugural Inside Green Innovation: Progress Report 2021, from leading intellectual property firm Appleyard Lees, analyses patent filings relating to several key environmental challenges facing the world, including the development of bio-derived, biodegradable and recyclable polymers – also known as bioplastics.
The report points to particular technology advances in optimising bioplastic production and improving its properties to provide the performance and longevity expected by consumers. Meanwhile, chemical recycling technologies are offering potential options to reduce waste plastic going to landfill.
David Walsh, Partner at Appleyard Lees said, “Finding an inexpensive alternative to existing plastics with similar performance which impacts the environment less is a challenge. Before the world shifts to using biodegradable or at least bio-derived plastics, the functionality of these materials will likely need to approach that of existing plastics.
“However, trends in bioplastic patent filings indicate that innovation is thriving and with legislative pressures to increase bioplastics use in industrial and consumer goods, innovation and patent filing activity is unlikely to slow down.”
Bioplastics patent activity – a renewed focus
The number of patent filings in 2020 suggests a renewed upsurge in bioplastics innovation activity, despite a relative decline since 2003.
The types of innovation shown in patents among the leading filers includes a focus on biopolymer composition and structure, such as biodegradable materials used in orthopaedic medical devices and cleaning products.
Investment in developing new, biodegradable polymer blends is also aimed at creating greater bioplastic strength and flexibility while other biopolymer compositions are designed to make plastic bags both biodegradable and easier to open.
Other sustainable applications using polymers include eco-friendly wallpaper and a sensor to measure soil temperature and humidity. (Read more)