PBAT filmPBAT film

What is PBAT?

As we become more aware of environmental issues, the food service industry is facing a big challenge: finding ways to be more eco-friendly. One area under the spotlight is the use of disposable items like packaging and cutlery, which can harm the environment. People and businesses are realizing the importance of using things that are better for the planet. This growing need for eco-friendly options shows a commitment to making choices that are good for the Earth. It's a way of rethinking how we do things in the food service industry,.

Here at Cibowares our heavy CPLA cutlery and meal kits are wrapped in compostable PBAT plastic film to ensure the wrapping is completely eco-friendly. But what is PBAT, where does it come from, and what else is it used for?

What is PBAT made of?

PBAT is short for polybutylene adipate-co-terephthalate which is a compostable alternative to petroleum-based plastic polymers like PE or polyethylene. While traditional plastics such as polyethylene will only break down into smaller pieces known as microplastics and harm the environment, PBAT films are completely compostable. This means that it will break down entirely back into natural materials. This translates directly to PBAT films putting less stress on the environment when compared to traditional plastic wrappings.

How is PBAT Different From Other Bioplastics?

Polybutylene Adipate-co-Terephthalate (PBAT) stands out among bioplastics due to its unique composition and characteristics when compared to other alternatives.

  1. Versatility in Composition: Unlike some bioplastics with a singular source, PBAT is a copolymer, derived from various monomers such as butylene adipate and terephthalate. This versatility in composition allows for customized formulations, making PBAT adaptable to different applications.
  2. Diverse Applications: PBAT finds applications in diverse sectors, including agriculture (for films), packaging, and disposable items. Its adaptability and compatibility with other materials contribute to its widespread use.
  3. Heat Resistance and Durability: PBAT tends to offer better heat resistance compared to some other biodegradable plastics. This characteristic makes it suitable for uses where increased durability and stability at higher temperatures is needed.

In essence, PBAT's distinctiveness lies in its copolymer composition, which provides a platform for versatility, enhanced biodegradability, and collaborative solutions. These features position PBAT as a compelling choice within the spectrum of bioplastics, offering a balance between environmental responsibility and functional performance in various applications.

A Quick History of PBAT

PBAT was first developed back in the early 1990s when researchers were looking for an eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastics. In 1993, the German chemical company BASF patented the first version of PBAT. Since then, due to it's eco-friendly properties and the increase in demand for sustainable alternatives to plastic, PBAT has become hugely popular and is used in a variety of industries.

Uses for PBAT

primeware compostable cutlery kit wrapped in PBAT film

PBAT is considered to be a versatile material and is used in lots of industries including packaging, agriculture and textiles. Where PBAT shines most is the disposable packaging industry. Here at CiboWares we use PBAT to wrap our cutlery and cutlery kits but it's also used for garbage bags, shopping bags and a water-proof liner for containers and cups. Lets look at some non-food-industry uses for PBAT:

Agriculture: PBAT is used in the production of biodegradable mulch films. These films help improve soil structure, control weeds, and retain moisture while breaking down over time, reducing the need for plastic removal.

Biodegradable Packaging: PBAT is incorporated into packaging materials, such as bags, films, and pouches. Companies seeking more sustainable options use PBAT to create packaging that degrades naturally, reducing environmental impact.

Waste Management: This is one of the most common household uses of PBAT. PBAT is utilized in the manufacturing of biodegradable waste bags, providing a greener alternative to traditional plastic bags for waste disposal.

Textiles: PBAT can be blended with other biodegradable polymers to create textiles that are more environmentally sustainable. These textiles may find applications in clothing and other fabric-based products.

Medical Industry: In some cases, PBAT is employed in the production of biodegradable medical products, such as sutures and other disposable items, where reducing environmental impact is a consideration.

Automotive Industry: PBAT can be used in the manufacturing of certain automotive components, providing an option for parts that need to break down over time, especially in applications where recyclability and environmental considerations are essential.

What Makes PBAT Eco-Friendly?

compostable symbol

PBAT is much more eco-friendly than traditional plastics in several key aspects. Below you'll find a table that better shows the role of PBAT as a top environmentally friendly alternative to classic plastics.

Characteristic PBAT Traditional Plastics
Disposal Compostable in commercial facilities. Not compostable, some options are recyclable, but traditional plastics are known to leave harmful micro-plastics in the environment after disposal.
Environmental Impact Leaves nothing behind - which reduces waste Contributes to plastic pollution
Composition Copolymer with versatile formulation Derived from fossil fuels, uniform composition
Heat Resistance Exhibits reasonable heat resistance Tend to have a higher heat resistance than bio-plastics like PBAT but varies by type of plastic
Uses in Food Service Increasingly being used in cutlery, wrappers, plates, and packaging Traditionally dominant in the food service sector for cups, cutlery, takeout containers, straws, and more.

The future of PBAT

It doesn't end there for PBAT. The rising need for compostable solutions means that PBAT continues to be produced in larger quantities each year. In fact new factories are constantly being built to increase annual production of PBAT to help achieve national sustainability goals in many countries.  These products break down quickly and harmlessly, reducing the impact of single-use plastics on the environment. Restaurants can use these products to reduce their environmental footprint and appeal to environmentally conscious customers.

You can make a difference

Using products that contain PBAT and other bioplastics is an easy way to make your food service business more sustainable. Say goodbye to single use plastics that leave harmful micro-plastics behind in the environment and hello to a clean conscience. 

CiboWares has a great selection of compostable cutlery available to help businesses reduce their carbon footprint.

Interested? Shop these categories:

Eco-Friendly Food Service Disposables