2024 journal article

Are starch-based materials more eco-friendly than fossil-based? A critical assessment


author keywords: Life cycle assessment; Starch -based; Bioeconomy; Carbon footprint; Circular economy
Source: Web Of Science
Added: May 28, 2024

This review conducts a comprehensive quantitative analysis of the life cycle assessments (LCA) of starch-based products from production inception (biomass and starch production) to final manufacture. More specifically, this analysis synthesizes published LCA data for starch-based films, foams, polylactic acid (PLA), and filaments against typical fossil-based counterparts (polyethylene and polystyrene), revealing PLA's carbon emissions range from 0.62 to 5.3 kg CO2eq/kg, films at 3.2–5.8 kg CO2eq/kg, and foams at 1.3–3.2 kg CO2eq/kg, contrasted with fossil-based products emitting 0.7–6.7 kg CO2eq/kg. Despite lower carbon dioxide emissions for starch-based products, the broader environmental impact, including eutrophication and acidification, often exceeds that of fossil-based counterparts, attributed to agricultural inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides. This review delineates the environmental merits of starch-based products, outlines their optimal applications, and underscores the imperative for future research to address identified knowledge gaps and methodological limitations, particularly in the comprehensive environmental assessment of agricultural inputs and their mitigation strategies.