Understanding the biobased and plant-based buzzwords—and the difference between them.

Why is there confusion?

Plant-based and biobased are sometimes used interchangeably when describing products, and while both are aiming to replace non-renewables such as fossil fuels, they are not necessarily the same.

What does biobased mean?

Biobased products are composed of or derived from in whole or in significant part of biological products [those derived from natural, renewable sources], including plant, animal, forestry or marine.

For example, some of our accessories are made with MIRUM®—a plastic-free, 100% biobased composite material created with virgin or recycled plant matter. MIRUM® helps us to avoid the use of fossil-fuel based petrochemicals or animals to create long-lasting, smooth accessories.

What does plant-based mean?

When we say our materials or products are plant-based, it simply means that plants are the primary biobased resource—not always the whole resource—we used to make them. That includes natural inputs like corn and hemp—so don’t just think of vegetables, grains and pulses when it comes to making plant-based materials.

For example, our Activewear 3.0 range is defined as plant-based—with over 92% of each product made from a nylon derived from castor beans, a feedstock (a raw material) that helps us to avoid the use of fossil fuel-derived materials.

Plus, our styles are treated with peppermint oil for its anti-odor properties. The resulting product is less reliant on petroleum-based materials.

So, plant-based is a subset—a subcategory—of biobased, if you will—all plant-based products are biobased, but not all biobased products are plant-based.

It is important for us to add that whether our product is biobased or plant-based, this does not refer to a product’s end-of-life options—it simply refers to the materials from which it is made. Biobased or plant-based does not equate to being biodegradable. While some biobased materials are biodegradable, these traits are not related.

Why choose biobased or plant-based products over fossil dervied products?

Most materials are synthetic and a consequence of the petroleum industry. When fossil fuels are extracted and burned for the production of synthetic clothes, they release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and that edges us closer to a planet imbalance.

Every year, 30% of the atmospheric CO2 is absorbed by plants thanks to the photosynthesis process. Using biobased derivatives allows us to utilize carbon that is already in our atmosphere, extracting it from plants. Our aim is to demotivate the further extraction of fossil fuels.