Background: Plastic materials are ubiquitous and, despite the great benefits and advantages
that the materials provide to human beings and society, their harmful effects are remarkable.
Plastics’ ingestion is harmful and can occur through microplastics and their by-products (BPA and
DEHP). It can trigger health problems. Also, the material decomposition time is significant and
consequently, plastic waste accumulates in the environment, posing a major problem to fauna and
Objectives: The aim of this study is to develop a review of conventional plastics’ negative aspect in
human and environmental life, as well as to study the existing biological and molecular strategies
for the production of biodegradable plastics, making a comparison of their advantages over conventional
plastics, in favor of socio-environmental welfare.
Methods: In this review, articles published in the last 20 years related to different aspects of conventional
plastics and biodegradable plastics were accurately analyzed and reviewed. The subjects
addressed ranged from conventional plastics and the problems related to their large-scale production,
as well as biodegradable plastics, their advantages and the most recent advances in the development
of production methods and improvement of these biopolymers were extensively reviewed
and discussed concisely.
Results: The present study demonstrated that, among the biopolymers discussed, thermoplastic
starch (TPS) is the most promising one due to its low cost, being one of the best materials to provide
a viable alternative in the search for biodegradable plastics. Polylactic acid (PLA) presents the
greatest potential for future medical applications due to its unique physicochemical properties and
the possibility of being used in 3D printing techniques.Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) have the
greatest commercial potential in replacing fossil fuel-based plastics because of their similar properties
to conventional plastics and because they are synthesized by microorganisms from renewable
Conclusion: This study demonstrated the various harmful effects that the large-scale use and improper
disposal of conventional plastic materials generated to the environment and human health,
and proposed an alternative to this problem, the biodegradable plastics. Although this study presented
three promising biodegradable plastics (TPS, PLA and PHAs), as well as described their production
methods, there are currently no viable biodegradable plastic polymers that can be used for the
total replacement of conventional plastics, especially from an economic perspective. However, in
the future, modifications in the production methods and chemical structures of these polymers will
allow the replacement of conventional plastics by biodegradable plastics, as well as a more extensive
application of these biopolymers.