How Biofuel is Impacting Our World in 2023

The world is changing. We’ve come a long way from the days when the only option for fuel was the fossil-fueled version. However, more strides can be made. In 2021, fossil fuels still accounted for 79% of U.S. energy consumption. While it’s hard to leave behind our dependence on it, fossil fuels must eventually go, and renewable energy sources must take their place.

In 2021, renewable energy contributed only 12% to the total U.S. energy consumption. Of course, that rate is gradually growing upward. Now, you can find renewable fuels and even hybrid engines that combine both traditional petroleum-based fuels and biofuels. What are these biofuels?

how biofuels is impacting the world

The best way to explain them is by looking at how they work and what they do for our planet’s future. Biofuel is one of the renewable energy sources that contributed to the U.S. energy consumption in 2021. Of all the other renewable sources, biofuel was the joint-second most popular one, alongside hydroelectric energy. As time progresses, we’ll see this energy source contributing more to our energy sector and the environment.

Having said all that, here are a few ways biofuel is impacting our world today and will continue impacting it in 2023 and beyond.

Producing Biofuels is Better for the Environment

Biofuels are a renewable, clean-burning source of energy that can be used to replace fossil fuels. When you burn biofuel, you aren’t releasing greenhouse gasses into the air. In fact, when considering the life-cycle carbon footprint of biofuels—from cultivation through production and use—they actually emit fewer greenhouse gasses than petroleum or other fossil fuels.

Diesel engines and diesel are used in trucks and heavy equipment like tractors and bulldozers, buses, trains, and ships. Biofuel can be used as an alternative fuel instead of diesel fuel in these vehicles without requiring any modifications to them because it is chemically compatible with petroleum diesel.

Many colleges and universities across the world are heavily invested in research involving biofuels. Even courses are specifically designed to involve their students in either generic or extensive ways. Studying Strayer University’s notebooks will help you realize just that. Students use these notebooks to gain a better understanding of their biology and chemistry lessons. They also use them for research down the line. A quick look at these notebooks will reveal just how invested these universities are in biofuel and other green energy alternatives.

Biofuel is Less Expensive Than Other Petroleum Alternatives

When it comes to cost, biofuels have a distinct advantage over petroleum alternatives. On top of these high prices, consumers are also paying high taxes on their fuel purchases due to their carbon emissions being harmful to the environment and society at large.

Coal is another fossil fuel whose prices fluctuate depending on how much demand there is for it from utilities across North America. Coal-produced energy is also costly. Thus, biofuel needs to be embraced by the masses if they want to limit their spending on fossil fuels.

Biofuel Consumption Increases the Gross Domestic Product

The more fuel you use, the more money you spend on that fuel. When you buy biofuel, your purchase creates jobs in areas like agriculture, transportation, and distribution. This creates a ripple effect throughout your local economy as well as in other sectors around the world.

In addition to this direct benefit, governments also benefit from rising GDPs because they can collect taxes on these sales. Consumers will also have more disposable income to spend on goods and services outside of their normal budgets, increasing economic activity worldwide.

Biofuel Can be Better for Your Engine’s Lifespan

In addition to being better for the environment, biofuel can also be better for your engine’s lifespan. The reason is that the different chemicals in biofuels react differently with your engine. As a result, you may need a different blend of biofuel than your car is used to running on. This means that you should consult with an auto mechanic before using any kind of alternative fuel in your vehicle.

Biofuels Are More Efficient Than Gasoline and Diesel

Biofuels are more efficient than petroleum fuels. They have a higher energy density than conventional gasoline and diesel, which means you can get more power out of a smaller amount of fuel. This is especially important for cars that rely on internal combustion engines (ICE), which are the standard vehicle in many parts of the world.

impact of biofuels on air quality

Biofuels are increasingly being used to power vehicles around the world

The majority of ICEs cannot burn biofuel blends directly. They require some kind of modification first. However, they can use it by converting existing gasoline or diesel engines with special hardware.

Biofuels Improve Air Quality in Urban Areas

Biofuels reduce the amount of particulate matter (PM), carbon monoxide (CO), and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in urban areas. PM is a collection of solid particles that get into the air and cause health problems like lung cancer and asthma. CO causes smog that can irritate your eyes and make it hard to breathe normally. NOx gasses contribute to the formation of ozone, another pollutant that is harmful to human health.

The concentration of all these gasses and particles in biofuel emissions is low. Thus, vehicles running on biofuel do not heavily harm the air quality.

Bottom Line

Biofuel is the future of clean energy. The sooner we understand this fact and accept biofuel, the better it is for us and this planet.

Bioplastics: Making an Informed Decision

Plastics are regarded by some as one of the greatest human inventions and continue to benefit society in more ways than one. However these benefits come at a high environmental cost as research has shown that “over 300 million metric tons of plastics are produced in the world annually and about 50% of this volume is for disposable applications, products that are discarded within a year of their purchase”.


About 50 percent of all plastics produced worldwide are disposed of within one year of being manufactured; now that is a critically important statistic when plastics have been known to have life spans over 500 years.  Infact, this is the main reason behind massive waste accumulation of plastics in landfills, drainage systems, water bodies etc. Moreover, plastic’s destruction is evident when in 2009, it was reported that an estimated 150 million tons of fossil fuels were consumed for the production of plastics worldwide.

Given all of these facts, it is no surprise that the pervasive use of non-biodegradable plastics has provoked many environmental and health concerns, especially in developing countries where plastic is often disposed of in unauthorized dumping sites or burned uncontrollably.

One result of this broadening awareness of the global plastic waste problem and its impact on the environment is the development of bioplastics.  Bioplastics are based on biomass derived from renewable resources and are in many cases more environmentally friendly than traditional petroleum based plastics. Currently, numerous types of bioplastics are under development, the most popular being Polylactides, Polyglycolic acids, Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), aliphatic polyesters and polysaccharides.

Basic Concepts and Misconceptions

Overall, in the Plastics Industry Trade Association’s 2012 Bioplastics Industry Overview Guide, it is stated that bioplastics that are both bio-based and biodegradable play an important role in further advancing the plastic industry as a whole.  Incredibly essential to note, is that within the above statement, it states, the importance of bioplastics that are both bio-based and biodegradable.  This statement implies that not all bioplastics are biodegradable and/or bio-based.


In fact, according to a 2011 industry report, there are many characteristics such as degradable, biodegradable, bio-based and compostable that are used to describe bioplastics. However, not every bioplastic is comprised of all of these features.  According to the report, this remains a common misconception as the public at large still lacks a clear understanding of the various bioplastic related terms.

For instance, it is commonly thought of that the terms bio-based and biodegradable are interchangeable. However not all bio-based plastics will degrade naturally. In fact, “many bio-based products are designed to behave like traditional petroleum-based plastic, and remain structurally intact for hundreds of years”.

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) defines biodegradable plastics as a plastic in which all the organic carbon can be converted into biomass, water, carbon dioxide, and/or methane via the action of naturally occurring microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi, in timeframes consistent with the ambient conditions of the disposal method (Compostable Plastics 101).

This definition implies that there is a specific timeframe for the biodegradation to take place and merely fragmenting into smaller pieces, even if microscopic, does not make a material biodegradable.  This definition is commonly confused with the term degradable which is a broader term given to polymers or plastics that simply break down by a number or means, such as physical disintegration, chemical disintegration and biodegradation by natural mechanisms.

After degradation, a degradable plastic can still remain in a smaller or fragmented form unlike that of a biodegradable plastic, which needs to completely biodegrade into water, carbon dioxide and/or methane. This distinction between terms results in polymers that are degradable but not biodegradable.

Another term that is commonly found to describe bioplastics is ‘compostable’. Compostable is defined by ASTM as “a plastic that undergoes biological degradation during composting to yield carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass at a rate consistent with other known compostable materials and leaves no visually distinguishable or toxic residues”.

While the ASTM has specific standards for a plastic to be compostable such as biodegradation, eco-toxicity, and disintegration, the main difference between a plastic being compostable versus biodegradable is the rapid rate at which biodegradation, eco-toxicity, and disintegration occur. Therefore, in theory, all compostable plastics are biodegradable however, not all biodegradable plastics are compostable.

Finally, probably the most often confused term regarding bioplastics is the label, “bio-based”.  As defined by the US Department of Agriculture, the term “bio-based” refers to solely the raw materials of the plastic. According to the Department of Agriculture, bio-based materials that are those that are “composed in whole, or in significant part, of biological products or renewable domestic agricultural materials or forestry materials”.

Since the majority, not all, of the materials have to be renewable, many bio-based plastics combine both petroleum-based materials with naturally based ones. For this reason, some researchers have suggested that a bio-based material may not technically be a sustainable product. Therefore, while the two terms are somewhat related, whether or not a product is bio-based is not an independent indicator of whether it is biodegradable.

Making an Informed Decision

This lack of understanding between the terms is a large issue that does not get much recognition.  Consumers are increasingly buying more and more bioplastics but are not fully being educated on the differences between the various different types of bioplastics on the markets. While as a whole, bioplastics may have many notable attributes making them excellent alternatives to traditional plastics, they are not considered flawless solutions.

Some bioplastics encompass all of the above qualities while others may only hold one or two of these characteristics; meaning that there is a vast disparity between how environment-friendly different bioplastics might actually be.

Consumers often see the term bioplastic or a bio-based plastic and automatically assume that it will breakdown into the soil like leaves or grass once it is disposed of, when as discussed, this is often not the case. All in all, given the significant differences between the terms, it is very important for consumers to know that “bio-based,” “biodegradable” and “compostable” are individual attributes and be educated on what these characteristics actually mean. It is equally important for manufacturers to be educated on these differences and make proper labeling of their bioplastic products.


Biobased and degradable plastics in California. Retrieved from  this link

California Organics Recycling Council. (2011). Compostable plastics 101. Retrieved from this link

Confused by the terms biodegradable & biobased. (n.d.). Retrieved from this link

Divya, G., Archana, T., & Manzano, R. A. (2013). Polyhydroxy alkanoates – A sustainable alternative to petro-based plastics. Petroleum & Environmental Biotechnology, 4(3), 1-8.

Liu, H-Y. (2009). Bioplastics poly(hydroxyalkanoate) production during industrial wastewater treatment. Retrieved from ProQuest Digital Dissertations. (AAT 3362495)

Niaounakis, M. (2013). Biopolymers: Reuse, recycling, and disposal. Waltham, MA: William Andrew Publishing.

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The Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc. (2012, April). Bioplastics Industry Overview Guide.

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