In Germany, bioplastics are often promoted as an environmentally and climate-friendly alternative to conventional petroleum-based plastics. However, a recent study from the University of Bonn suggests that shifting to plant-based plastics could have less positive effects than expected. Specifically, an increased consumption of bioplastics in the following years is likely to generate increased greenhouse gas emissions from cropland expansion on a global scale. The study is published in the scientific Journal “Environmental Research Letters”.
All in all, it takes a lot of time for the switch to bioplastics to pay off. Furthermore, the researchers estimate the societal costs of this policy to decrease one tonne of CO2 at more than $2,000 – a high sum as compared to biofuel mandates. A subsidy to bioplastics would have very different effects on the global economy. However, both the compensation period and the costs for climate change mitigation would remain almost the same as with the tax.