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01 | 2010

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Politics Bioplastics

Politics Bioplastics Situation in Brazil Article contributed by: João Carlos de Godoy Moreira CEO, Biomater Eco-Materiais São Carlos, SP, Brazil Décio Escobar de Oliveira Ladislau Economist Master in Environmental Science author of the Blog Bioplastic News The Brazilian bioplastics industry demonstrates its potential: new production facilities are ready to go, new applications are in the final stage of development and the market is gaining the attention of the government. But there is still a lack of specific legislation, and a lack of consumer and media understanding. This article tries to summarise the background to the technical and market developments which have made biobased and biodegradable plastics a reality today. Biobased and biodegradable plastics caught the attention of the mainstream media when several municipalities, in very different Brazilian states, started to promote municipal and state legislation banning ‘normal‘ plastic bags, or to grant benefits for biodegradable and compostable products or for those with a potential carbon footprint advantage. Last year there were 44 initiatives, at all levels of government, with regard to legislation in favour of biodegradable plastics. Apparently independent from each other, these initiatives were the start of a movement in favour of, and a general discussion on, biodegradable plastics in the media and in government. While some legislative projects promoted ‘oxo-degradable‘ plastics, showing a lack of information of the legislators, other federal Environment Ministry representatives are quite well informed and have made clear statements on this subject. Two representatives from the petrochemicals and plastics industry, Plastivida and National Plastic Institute (INP), have also made clear their derogatory view of ‘oxodegradable’ plastic and support the general negative consensus on these materials. A Solid Wastes National Policy project is currently at the stage of final debate in the National Congress and a consensus about the right initiatives is near. Recently, some companies directly involved in the compostable bioplastics business (BASF, Corn Products, Innovia, Biomater Eco- Materiais, Rodenburg Biopolymers, Natur-Tec and CBPack) got together and formed ABICOM - the Brazilian Association of Compostable Plastics. The main aims of this new association are education, and promotion 48 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/10] Vol. 5

Bioplastics@ interpack 2011 Düsseldorf, 12-18 May 2011 Your Way to interpack: of biopolymers and compostable plastics in general. Legislative initiatives will be supported and a ‘compostable logo‘, based on a third party certification program, is to be established. This is to be backed by the Brazilian standard ABNT NBR 15448, which corresponds to ASTM D6400 and EN13432 standards. Following the examples from ABA (the Australasian Bioplastics Association) and TBIA (the Thailand Bioplastics Industry Association), ABICOM will endeavour to work in close cooperation with the successful and well structured European Bioplastics Association. Headed by Veruska Regolin (Innovia Films), ABICOM is about to start inviting others players (converters, end users, consumers, bioplastics and raw material producers, NGO’s), from all sectors involved in the development of this supply chain, to join forces. The goals are to pursue the dialogue with the government, support the education process and install a certification system with an official ‘compostable and biobased logo‘ for correct identication and traceability of certified products. Meanwhile, a number of compostable bioplastics start-up companies in Brazil are preparing themselves for the business ahead. Joint ventures are being formed and all the major players are now scaling up pilot plants or launching their new bioplastic businesses on an industrial scale. The first items produced from bioplastics materials were introduced to the market about 4 or 5 years ago, mostly in the form of packaging and shopping bags. Many of them were, and still are, produced in pilot plants or using imported raw materials. Recently several new and different bioplastic products have been launched onto market. The market is moving quickly and the strongest point is that Brazil has an abundance of clean energy and a huge capacity to produce renewable agricultural resources on a very competitive basis. Examples are starches, sugar cane, tobacco, vegetable oils, or cellulose for PLA, TPS, PHA and other biopolymer product families. Also the technologies related to ethanol and vegetable oil conversion have become commercially available. The Book noW! closing Date: 28 Feb. 2010 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/10] Vol. 5 49

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