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04 | 2010

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Bottle Applications PHA

Bottle Applications PHA Bioplastics for Caps and Closures By Kristin Taylor, Business Development Manager, Telles, Lowell, Massachussetts, USA In today’s increasingly green marketplace, bioplastics can provide a strategic market advantage to brand owners by combining the environmental benefits of bioplastics (in this case, PHA) with the physical properties of conventional polymers. In this example, Mirel bioplastics were used to replace polypropylene in a cosmetic jar application, offering consumers identical product performance with the potential for reducing waste sent to landfills by providing composting alternatives. When making the transition from a traditional petroleumbased plastic to an innovative new material such as bioplastic, there is a learning curve that converters must go through to ensure proper material processing. Biopolymers can be processed on traditional process equipment with good results. It is important that processors understand the differences between biopolymers and petroleum-based polymers. The Telles technical team recently conducted trials with Cosmetic Specialties International (CSI), a Southern California-based plastic injection-molding manufacturer, utilizing their existing molds for jars and caps. The primary objective of the first trial was to successfully mold caps for cosmetic jars using Mirel P1003 injection molding grade material on the customer’s existing production tooling and machinery. The existing tooling was multi-cavity with hotrunners. Because the tool was designed for PP, slight flashing could not be avoided due to the vent geometry. Proper thread design, equipment and tooling set-up facilitated effective stripping of the Mirel P1003 caps from the mold without thread damage or the use of a collapsible core. The second trial conducted at CSI involved molding caps for shampoo bottles using existing PP tooling with collapsible cores. In this case, the male part of the tool (inside of the cap) collapses inward thus allowing the part to be removed without damage to the threads. Molds with collapsible cores are more expensive to manufacture due to their increased complexity. Parts were produced on this tooling with minimal flash and at cycle times comparable to the current PP resin. Telles (the joint venture between Metabolix and ADM) has made significant strides this year in providing injection molding grades that can be processed on existing equipment and tooling. However, as with any material change, tweaking of the processing conditions and some minor tooling modifications are generally required to provide the most robust and repeatable process. Parts made with Mirel P1003 not only look, feel and perform just like their traditional petroleum-based plastic counterparts, but also offer brand owners significant environmental benefits to distinguish themselves in this increasingly competitive, green market. Mirel P1003 is a semi-crystalline polyester specifically engineered for injection molding applications with properties comparable to traditional polymers, such as heat resistance, moisture resistance, high modulus and outstanding shelf stability. The P1003 resin can be easily colored using a Mirel-based masterbatch color without affecting its physical properties or biodegradability. “Jars, double-wall containers, and closures made from this material are ideal for a family of cosmetics, skincare, hair care, styling products, and body scrubs. These containers are easy to silk screen and to decorate,” explained Hiram Santana, Director of Marketing & Business Development at CSI. “With the combination of material performance and the environmental benefits, this is an excellent material for brand owners with corporate sustainability goals who want to bring an environmentally responsible product line to market.” Mirel is biobased and biodegradable in natural soil and water environments, home composting systems, and industrial composting facilities, where these facilities are available. The rate and extent of Mirel’s biodegradability will depend on the size and shape of the articles made from it. However, like nearly all bioplastics and organic matter, Mirel is not designed to biodegrade in conventional landfills. www.mirelplastics.com 18 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/10] Vol. 5

Bottle Applications Continued Success for Sant‘Anna Bio-Bottle Sant’Anna di Vinadio mineral water from the Italian mineral water company Fonti di Vinadio Spa, has now been available in Ingeo PLA bottles for about two years now. The company, located in the North Italian Piedmont, continues to successfully penetrate the market with its sustainable product. Success Last year’s experience showed that, with suitable support, sales figures increased by double figures percentages. This is why Sant’Anna general manager Alberto Bertone has decided to invest further in this business. He has appointed a sales manager specifically for the new bio-bottle business. One of the tasks for the new sales manager is to prepare for the export of Sant’Anna in PLA bottles. Currently the sales figures are close to four million units per year in Italy alone – without the expected exports. Caps With regard to closures Sant’Anna is actively working to replace the present caps with bio-based caps. This project is not yet complete but Alberto Bertone is confident of having a solution by the end of the year. In the meantime, the label has been converted to a Ingeo PLA label. Export Although Sant’Anna does not yet export PLA bottles, they are actively working to start exporting, with the main focus on Germany. In this market it is vital to find a cap solution which will fulfil the requirements of the legislation regarding waste-tax exemption. End-of-Life A portion of the Sant’Anna bottles end up in the organic waste stream for composting. The majority of the bottles are collected with all the other plastic bottles. The automatic sorting equipment currently used separates only PET, so that PLA bottles together with other non-PET bottles end up in the incinerator stream used in the creation of carbon neutral renewable energy. Evidently, the automatic sorting plant works efficiently so there are no complaints about PET pollution caused by PLA. Outlook On being asked about the future plans and prospecs, bioplastics MAGAZINE was told that the medium term plan is to improve efficiency and consequently to reduce the production cost and final price to the consumer. Having PLA bottled water at a lower selling price is certain to increase the market share. In addition the consumer target group has been enlarged by adding a new bottle size. Sant’Anna has just launched its new 1-litre bottle. This new bottle completes Sant’Anna’s range of Ingeo bottled water with 0.5 litres, 1 litre, and 1.5 litres sizes to suit all customer needs. It is of interest to note that this new 1-litre size of Sant’Anna di Vinadio mineral water is only offered in a PLA bottle. One litre PET is not available. Thus consumers have no choice but to select the Ingeo bottle if they require a one litre pack. Further investments have been made on the technical side too. In order to overcome the limited shelf life of the traditional bottle, Sant’Anna has increased the weight of the bottle. For example, the shelf life of the 1-litre bottle has been increased from 4 to 6 months. Furthermore, the design of the bottle has been modified to minimise bottle panelling due to evaporation. MT www.santanna.it bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/10] Vol. 5 19

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