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Most current coatings and films use a plastic base material (for example polyethylene, PVC). But, as any plastic material wears, it can shed plastic microparticles.
Pollution of the natural environment is now a huge problem around the world, with plastic particles found even in remote locations such as the arctic. Microplastics are also ingested by humans and animals and their effects on health are only starting to be understood.
We also need to move away from using materials that are based on non-renewable resources, and plastic is mostly made from non-renewable fossil fuels (crude oil). Incineration of plastic at the end of its life will add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Plastic based coatings are also hard to recycle.
As with other uses of plastic (e.g. for food packaging), we must think about substitute materials for coatings that do not come from fossil fuels, are biodegradable and safer for the environment. Bio-based materials obtained from sustainable sources can contribute to all these goals.