Biomaterials have emerged as the golden ticket for brands and suppliers seeking sustainable and cutting-edge solutions in an era of heightened regenerative consciousness.
The dynamic potential of biomaterials transcends traditional boundaries, revolutionizing industries and paving the way for a future that seamlessly blends nature and technology.
Biomaterials are materials that come from or are made by living things like plants, animals, bacteria, fungi, and other living organisms. This basically means nature is the ultimate source of these materials. Sometimes, you might hear them called "biologically derived materials." It's a fancy way of saying they originate from the natural world.
From a leaf-shaped plastic made from corn to a bandage that helps heal wounds faster, biomaterials are versatile and can be used in many ways. They're like the superheroes of materials, with the power to improve our lives without harming the environment. They're made from things that can be grown or produced again and again, like plants or agricultural waste. It's a win-win situation because we can use these materials without depleting the Earth's precious resources.
Biomaterials have emerged as veritable alternatives that can solve some of the global environmental challenges. Many conventional materials rely on non-renewable resources, such as petroleum-based plastics and metals. Extracting and processing these resources not only depletes them but also leads to pollution.
On the other hand, biomaterials can be derived from renewable sources like plants, agricultural waste, and even algae, reducing dependence on scarce resources.
Traditional materials, especially single-use plastics, contribute significantly to the mounting waste crisis.
They end up in landfills or pollute natural ecosystems, taking centuries to degrade. Biomaterials offer a solution by being biodegradable or compostable, reducing the environmental burden and promoting a circular economy. About 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations every year.
With the well-known upsides of biomaterials, it is not surprising that brands are increasingly looking to adopt them. According to McKinsey, “advances in the use of biology in the production of materials, chemicals, and energy could amount to $200 billion to $300 billion in global market growth.” This growth rate is not surprising as biomaterials have gained widespread use in food packaging and medical application for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. In the construction industry, biomaterials like hempcrete are becoming more popular.
Biological science - fueling a new wave of innovation (Source: McKinsey & Company)
Biomaterials come in different forms. Understanding each type and how they work is important for any brand seeking to take full advantage of biomaterials.
The application of biomaterials cuts across various sectors. From construction to consumer goods, businesses have found innovative ways to utilize biomaterials.
Three biomaterial product types: drop-ins (i.e. bio-chemicals that can be dropped into existing products without changing operations), bio-replacement (i.e. bio-based chemicals used to make a new material that is significantly improved in terms of environmental impact) and bio-better (i.e new combinations of material properties that are significantly geared towards enhancing their environmental profile) (Source: McKinsey & Company)
Businesses have a unique opportunity to develop new products that use biomaterials. The biggest challenge to get started with biomaterials is access to knowledge, information, and technologies.
Check out our library of more than 1000 biomaterials and suppliers here.
How to (really) end the single-use plastic epidemic? | tocco. (n.d.). https://tocco.earth/article/alternatives-to-single-use-plastics/
Parker, L. (2021, May 3). The world’s plastic pollution crisis explained. Environment. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/plastic-pollution
Stanciu, L., & Diaz-Amaya, S. (2022). Bioceramics. Elsevier eBooks, 57–75. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-809263-7.00004-4
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