Bio has become one of the most confusing words in the English language, certainly in relation to packaging. I read the worst example recently online, referring to “biobased, non-biodegradable bioplastics.”
The trouble is that the word bio has three completely different meanings:
- In many European languages, bio has for years been the by-word for organic.
- Then came bioplastics which were both plant-based and
Part of the problem is that the latest generation of plant-based plastics, using PET, is not biodegradable.
Lots of people assume biodegradable is entirely virtuous, but it seems more of a mixed blessing:
- Often it only works in special composting conditions.
- It can also interfere with other plastics recycling.
Plant-based PET is good news, because it is fully compatible with existing PET recycling.
So let’s separate packaging words in the same way we have to separate packaging waste.
We should simply stop referring to biopackaging and bioplastics. Instead, we should always be clear whether we mean:
- organic or
So the online text above would be rewritten as “plant-based, non-biodegradable plastics.”