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01 | 2008

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Foam Mater-Bi Foams,

Foam Mater-Bi Foams, innovative, functional and compostable. Article contributed by Stefano Facco New Business Development Manager Novamont S.p.A., Novara, Italy Mater-Bi foams have been used for many years in a number of different applications, such as for fillers, sheets and blocks, for protective industrial packaging and for thermoformed trays for consumer food packaging. Industrial packaging (e.g. sheets and blocks) is based on a closed cell starch-based structure. It is a robust and resilient real alternative to PS, PU and PP. Densities range on average from 10 to 100 kg/m³, and the dynamic cushioning properties (G factor) are comparable to those of PE foam. Loose fillers are based on a similar cell structure to the one described above; they are considered a real alternative to traditional PS loose fill packaging. Resistance and cushioning properties comply with the needs of packaging for products such as pharmaceuticals, laboratory equipment, consumer goods etc. The fillers are water soluble antistatic and resilient. Recently Novamont, together with Sirap Gema, a leading Italian company operating in packaging and insulation systems, has developed a new non (water) soluble packaging solution (Ekofoam), ideal for packaging fresh produce (fruit, vegetables, etc). The expanded sheets/punnets are produced on tandem or single screw foam lines with annular dies. By introducing expanding agents (gas) into the polymer it is possible to obtain a cellular structure, reducing the final density of the sheet. The characteristics of these closed cell structure materials are as follows: Density from 80 to 120 g/l, thickness from 1,5 mm up to 8 mm, and with mechanical properties comparable to expanded polyolefins. bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/08] Vol. 3

Foam The thermoformed punnet has very high protective properties (cushioning effect) and good resilience. It is approved for contact with foodstuffs, resistant to oils and water, and of course compostable in accordance with EN 13432. The specific use for packaging of fresh produce is driven by different factors: The protection and integrity of the skin is of utmost importance for the shelf life of the goods, especially when the produce is at its optimum maturity. Studies have demonstrated that in the USA almost 35% of the packaged produce deteriorates due to damaged skin (source: AIPE) Last year different trials were carried out in the UK in order to compare the cushioning effect of different punnets (XPS, rigid, EPP, board, paper pulp etc). Different aspects were evaluated, such as the side impact, base impact, rubbing and cracking , which can dramatically influence the shelf life of a product. The results clearly showed that Mater Bi / Ekofoam punnets meet the highest standard requirements for such applications. The produce is better protected from damage, which dramatically increases the final quality. Furthermore, no negative influence was registered even at high humidity levels. These new materials are perfectly suitable for use in sustainable and compostable produce packaging. They fully meet the technical requirements offered by standard commercial materials, but in addition offer the possibility of composting, either at the end of their planned life, or in cases where goods have passed their expiry date and need to be organically treated. www.novamont.com bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/08] Vol. 3

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