Agro-Waste-Based Bioplastics and Biomaterials

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Agro-waste-based bioplastics and biomaterials are materials derived from agricultural residues and byproducts, such as crop stalks, leaves, husks, and fruit pits. These materials offer a sustainable alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastics and other non-biodegradable materials, reducing waste and promoting a circular economy in the agricultural sector.

Impact on climate action

Agro-Waste-Based Bioplastics and Biomaterials under Agro-Waste Management bolster climate action by repurposing agricultural residues into sustainable alternatives to traditional plastics and materials. By reducing reliance on fossil fuels, mitigating waste, and promoting circularity, this innovation contributes to a greener, more sustainable economy, combating climate change.


  • Biomass Conversion Technologies: Various technologies are used to convert agro-waste into bioplastics and biomaterials, including:
    • Fermentation: Microorganisms are used to ferment sugars extracted from agro-waste into bio-based polymers, such as polylactic acid (PLA) and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs).
    • Chemical Conversion: Chemical processes, such as hydrolysis and polymerization, can be used to convert cellulose and other components of agro-waste into bioplastics and biomaterials.
  • Material Science and Engineering: Expertise in material science and engineering is crucial for developing bio-based materials with desired properties, such as strength, flexibility, and biodegradability.
  • Circular Economy Principles: Agro-waste-based bioplastics and biomaterials align with the principles of the circular economy by utilizing waste materials as feedstocks and creating biodegradable or compostable products.

TRL : 5-7

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Advanced Bio-Based Polymers: Researchers and startups are developing new bio-based polymers with improved performance characteristics, such as better barrier properties, heat resistance, and strength, making them more suitable for a wider range of applications.
  • Biodegradable and Compostable Bioplastics: Innovations in biodegradable and compostable bioplastics are improving their performance and expanding their applications in packaging, agriculture, and other sectors.
  • Biocomposites: Biocomposites combine bio-based polymers with natural fibers, such as wood fibers or flax fibers, to create strong and lightweight materials with reduced environmental impact.
  • Nanocellulose-Based Materials: Nanocellulose, derived from plant cellulose, is a promising material for creating high-performance biomaterials with unique properties, such as high strength, transparency, and biodegradability.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Enhanced Biopolymer Performance
  • Novel Biodegradable Packaging Solutions
  • Advancements in Biocomposite Technology
  • Sustainable Agriculture through Biomaterials
  • Tailored Properties of Nanocellulose-Based Materials
  • Agricultural Residue Valorization
  • Scaling Up Biomass Conversion Processes
  • Engineering Bio-Based Polymers
  • Innovations in Fermentation Techniques
  • Applications in Food Packaging
  • Bioplastics for Agricultural Mulch Films
  • Next-Generation Disposable Tableware
  • Bioplastics in Construction Industry
  • Sustainable Paper Products
  • Bioplastics for Medical Applications
  • Optimization of Hydrolysis Processes
  • Synthesis of High-Performance PHAs

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. Full Cycle Bioplastics:
    • Technology Enhancement: Full Cycle Bioplastics specializes in converting organic waste, particularly agro-waste, into biodegradable bioplastics using microbial fermentation processes. Their technology focuses on utilizing microorganisms to break down organic waste into short-chain fatty acids, which are then polymerized into bioplastic materials.
    • Uniqueness: Full Cycle Bioplastics stands out for its closed-loop approach to bioplastic production, where organic waste, such as food scraps, agricultural residues, and crop waste, is used as feedstock. This approach not only reduces the reliance on fossil fuels but also helps in waste diversion and mitigating environmental pollution.
    • End-User Segments: Full Cycle Bioplastics caters to a wide range of industries, including packaging, consumer goods, agriculture, and automotive, where there is a growing demand for sustainable alternatives to traditional plastics. Their bioplastics offer comparable performance to conventional plastics but with the added benefit of being biodegradable and derived from renewable sources.
  2. Zelfo Technology:
    • Technology Enhancement: Zelfo Technology specializes in producing biomaterials from lignocellulosic fibers found in various sources, including agricultural residues, wood, and paper waste. Their technology focuses on a unique mechanical processing method that breaks down and reconstitutes cellulose fibers without the need for chemical additives.
    • Uniqueness: Zelfo’s technology offers a sustainable alternative to traditional materials like plastics, composites, and foams by harnessing the natural properties of cellulose fibers. Their biomaterials are biodegradable, renewable, and can be customized to meet specific performance requirements, making them suitable for a wide range of applications.
    • End-User Segments: Zelfo Technology serves industries such as construction, automotive, furniture, and packaging, where there is a growing demand for eco-friendly materials with low environmental impact. Their biomaterials are used to manufacture products such as structural panels, insulation materials, automotive components, and packaging solutions.
  3. Biome Bioplastics:
    • Technology Enhancement: Biome Bioplastics specializes in developing biodegradable and compostable bioplastics from renewable resources, including agro-waste and plant-based feedstocks. Their technology focuses on blending different biopolymers and additives to create materials with specific properties and performance characteristics.
    • Uniqueness: Biome Bioplastics differentiates itself through its focus on providing customizable bioplastic solutions that meet the requirements of various end-user applications. Their materials offer a balance between performance, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability, making them suitable for a wide range of packaging, consumer goods, and agricultural applications.
    • End-User Segments: Biome Bioplastics caters to industries such as packaging, food service, horticulture, and agriculture, where there is a growing demand for environmentally friendly alternatives to conventional plastics. Their bioplastics are used to manufacture products such as packaging films, food containers, disposable utensils, and agricultural mulch films.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Wageningen University & Research:
    • Research Focus: Wageningen University & Research is a frontrunner in the development of Agro-Waste-Based Bioplastics and Biomaterials, focusing on utilizing agricultural residues and by-products to produce sustainable alternatives to conventional plastics and materials.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the valorization of various agro-waste streams, including crop residues, food processing by-products, and agricultural plastics, through innovative biorefinery processes. They employ biotechnological approaches, enzymatic treatments, and fermentation techniques to extract valuable compounds and polymers from agro-waste, which are then used for the synthesis of biodegradable plastics, biocomposites, and functional materials.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in packaging, horticulture, construction, and automotive industries, offering biodegradable and renewable alternatives to petroleum-based plastics and conventional materials. By transforming agro-waste into value-added bioproducts, Wageningen’s research contributes to reducing environmental pollution, mitigating resource depletion, and fostering circular economy principles in the agri-food sector.
  2. University of California, Berkeley:
    • Research Focus: University of California, Berkeley conducts pioneering research on Agro-Waste-Based Bioplastics and Biomaterials, leveraging its expertise in bioengineering, materials science, and sustainable development to develop novel processes and materials from agricultural residues.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the design and synthesis of biodegradable polymers, composite materials, and functional additives derived from lignocellulosic biomass, crop residues, and food waste. They also explore advanced manufacturing techniques, such as 3D printing, electrospinning, and microfluidics, to fabricate bioplastic products with tailored properties and functionalities.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in food packaging, consumer goods, medical devices, and agricultural applications, offering biocompatible, compostable, and environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional plastics and materials. By developing Agro-Waste-Based Bioplastics and Biomaterials, UC Berkeley’s research contributes to mitigating plastic pollution, promoting sustainable production practices, and creating new opportunities for bio-based industries.
  3. Technical University of Munich (TUM):
    • Research Focus: Technical University of Munich is engaged in innovative research on Agro-Waste-Based Bioplastics and Biomaterials, focusing on the development of scalable and cost-effective biorefinery processes for converting agricultural residues into high-value bioproducts.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the integration of chemical engineering, biotechnology, and process optimization to valorize diverse biomass feedstocks, including forestry residues, crop straws, and organic waste, into bio-based polymers, fibers, and chemicals. They also investigate the use of renewable energy sources, green solvents, and eco-friendly catalysts to minimize environmental impact and enhance the sustainability of bioplastic production.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in packaging, textiles, automotive components, and consumer electronics, providing bio-based alternatives with comparable performance and functionality to conventional materials. By advancing Agro-Waste-Based Bioplastics and Biomaterials, TUM’s research supports the transition towards a bioeconomy, where renewable resources are utilized efficiently, and waste streams are transformed into valuable products, contributing to resource conservation and climate change mitigation.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Agro-waste-based bioplastics and biomaterials are being increasingly adopted in various applications, including food packaging, agricultural mulch films, disposable tableware, and construction materials. For example, Full Cycle Bioplastics is partnering with companies to develop compostable packaging solutions, while Zelfo Technology is supplying its cellulose-based materials to packaging and paper product manufacturers.