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Q&A: Microwaveable Bioplastic?

by Green Plastics


Recently Nerissa Haak wrote to us:

I actually have a simple question: Are there any bioplastics that are microwave resistant? I read that PP is good for use in a microwave, but it is very hard to find other information on the internet about this topic. I am asking because I am a student Packaging design in the Netherlands, and we have been given an assignment to design a ready meal package, that can be placed in a microwave.
I hope you can send me some information about this topic. Thanks very much!

Thank you for your letter, Nerissa!

Some bioplastics are microwavable and others aren’t. It will depend on the composition and how it was processed.

Unfortunately, if the bioplastic contains glycerol, as with all of the bioplastics that are “home made” that we talk about on the website, the plastic will blister and discolor if microwaved (for example, for one minute on high). So none of the home-made bioplastic projects that we describe on this site produce a result that is microwaveable.

However, there are a number of commercially-produced bioplastics that are microwaveable. Expanded starch foam (starch packaging peanuts, for example) is rather stable in the microwave. One commercial product that is currently on the market is the clam-shell fast-food tray, by Earthshell. This product is being marketed for use by fast-food burger restaurants, and can be microwaved. The Earthshell material is starch-based, but it goes through a complicated production process that isn’t something that you can do as a home project.

There is likely going to be more research done in the area and more bioplastic packaging options will become available, at reasonable cost.

Hope that helps, and good luck with your project!

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