Brought to you by Chris Hamlett.

Bioplastics and the Circular Economy

The management of materials resources is becoming ever more important and so researchers are looking for more ways to move from linear economies (where items are made, used and then discarded) to circular economies where items are made, and then, ideally, reused or at least the materials recycled to be used again.

How do bioplastics fit into circular economies?

Designer, researcher and Discover Materials Ambassador Zoe Powell Best introduces bioplastics, how they fit into the circular economy and introduces Materiom (a not-for-profit open-source recipe book of biomaterials – She discusses the circular economy and introduces some recipes that you could use to make your own materials in the classroom or even in the home.

This video was recorded as part of our series of talks during British Science Week 2021 (see here for the full playlist) and some of the other talks in the series are referenced in Zoe’s talk (Eleonora D’Elia’s introduction to Materials Science and Engineering  and Becky Waldram’s talk about the Circular Economy.

You’ll learn

  • The move from linear to circular economies across the world
  • The principles of how bioplastics are made
  • What equipment you need to make your own bioplastics

Prefer to skip through?

0:00 – Welcome

0:48 – Introduction to Zoe and her *current and future research

2:09 – How do Bioplastics Fit into the Circular Economy?

2:50 – Global materials use: Linear chains v circular cycles

4:58 – How bioplastic fit into a circular economy

6:27 – Introduction to Materiom

8:38 – Downscaling industry to make more local fabrication facilities

9:06 – Principles of Circular Engineering

9:45 – Biomimicry

10:52 – Use of modern fabrication techniques to make bioplastics

11:48 – Biomaterial ingredients (types and availability)

14:01 – Global supporters

14:36 – Data generation

15:16 – Mechanical properties: Biomaterials v other types of material

15:29 – Team

16:33 – *Current projects

17:25 – Community and networks

18:00 – What are bioplastics – packaging? System? (things to consider)

18:48 – Introduction to Biomaterial recipes

20:22 – Tools to make biomaterials at home

20:50 – Registering with Materiom

21:14 – Some example recipes (including natural dyes)

24:13 – Chat and wrap up

*Current = March 2021 (times that the talk was given)



Circular Economy – a system in which a material is made and then used and resused as many times as possible to prevent wate from being produced

Bioplastic – a biodegradable material made from renewable biological resources (rather than from perorchemicals)


Learn More

For Teachers: A downloadable document of ideas of how to use this resource in the classroom will be available soon.

For Families: A downloadable document of ideas of how to use this resource at home will be available soon.

Why not download our ‘CoCoBioMater Bag Booklet’ that we produced as part of a Royal Society of Chemistry funded project – it is an introduction to biomaterials and gives a step-by-step guide to make one of the recipes from Materiom.