Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 103, Issue 1, pp 143–157 | Cite as

Recent developments in non-biodegradable biopolymers: Precursors, production processes, and future perspectives

  • Christina Andreeßen
  • Alexander SteinbüchelEmail author


During the last decades, biopolymers experienced a renaissance. The increasing limitation of fossil resources in combination with a public demand for environmental-friendly and sustainable processes has led to the formation of a market for biobased plastics. Especially non-biodegradable bioplastics are very interesting materials, as they combine the benefits of reduced carbon footprint during production and increased resource efficiency with the persistence to microbial degradation. Consequently, persistent biomass-derived plastic materials are highly promising to substitute conventional fossil-based plastics in applications, which require durability and longevity. Non-biodegradable bioplastics derived from renewable resources represent 57% of all bioplastics with partially biobased polyethylene terephthalate currently leading the market, followed by biobased polyamides and fully biomass-derived polyethylene. An exceptional biopolymer with thermoplastic properties was discovered only two decades ago, when—for the first time—polythioesters were synthesized by microbial fermentation. Though synthesized by bacteria, it turned out that polythioesters are non-biodegradable by microorganisms in contrast to all other biopolymers and thus, represent a novel non-biodegradable bioplastic material. This review gives an overview about the recent development and progress regarding bioplastics with special focus on persistent bioplastics. We describe the generation of the respective monomers from biomass-derived substrates and summarize the current status of production, which range from the laboratory-scale up to large-scale industrial processes.


Bioplastic Non-biodegradable biopolymer Polyamides Polyethylene Polyethylene 2,5-furandicarboxylate Polyethylene terephthalate Polypropylene Polythioester Polytrimethylene 2,5-furandicarboxylate Polytrimethylene terephthalate Polyurethanes 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Molekulare Mikrobiologie und Biotechnologie, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität MünsterMünsterGermany
  2. 2.Environmental Sciences DepartmentKing Abdulaziz UniversityJeddahSaudi Arabia

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