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05 | 2008

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Politics Situation in

Politics Situation in India Article contributed by Perses Bilimoria, Founder and CEO, Earthsoul India Pvt. Ltd. Mumbai, India (Photo: Brasil2, iStockphoto) India as everyone knows, has one of the world’s fastest growing economies, at around 7-8% per annum. It is paradoxical that India also boast’s of one of the largest poor and uneducated population in the world. This combination makes a heady and almost lethal cocktail for waste generation, around the major cities of India. Some cities such as Mumbai (Bombay), the financial capital of India, has a population of over 15 million inhabitants, almost twice the size of the population of France. India’s consumption of plastic in packaging, is around 3 million tonnes per year, the third highest in the world, growing at 20% per year. India, also has one of the highest recycling initiatives in the world, where nearly 67% of all plastic waste is recycled, in mainly, local community driven initiatives. Yet one will find the Indian countryside littered with commonly called ‘white snow’ or waste plastic litter. A large number of local State Governments have tried to impose complete bans on plastic bags or a regulation on minimum micron thickness, but, till now, there is no implementation to be effective. Various private, public and Government efforts have been started to prevent this from becoming a widespread disease, however, for most Indians the primary concern is earning their daily meal and not the enviroment. Hence, it is a challenge on how to motivate the poor to care for the enviroment and to build schemes where they could earn their livelyhood as well. Such schemes are being run successfully in many parts of India. The Government of India has also implemented a ‘solid waste management’ programme to deal with India’s 700 million tonnes of bio waste each year. Of this solid waste generated is nearly 40 million tonnes per year. So clearly there is a potential for waste to energy programmes and the use of bioplastics in packaging. Unfortunately, bioplastics have not been a cost effective alternative and are currently only serving the niche markets, mainly high end hotels and certain select organic foods outlets. Unfortunately, biopolymers are classified as synthetic polymers in the import code and the import duties are a staggering 35%. However interestingly oxo-degradable products are finding themselves in a comfort zone in this country, where no certification guidelines are yet in place and the products are cheaply available. The potential for producing PLA from lactic acid monomer, via the sugar cane baggasse route is enormous, as is the potential to harness waste agro starches being produced in India on very large scales. A few companies have embarked on R&D in these areas. The areas for large scope of bioplastics would be plasticulture, flexible packaging, consumer goods and automobile and other accessories. Currently apart from my company, Earthsoul India, there appears to be only one other company in the biobased bioplastic field. I believe that the Indian market will be ready to embrace bioplastics in various applications within the next two years, more particularly in the field of agriculture and consumer goods. The demand for bioplastics in India, within the next 5 years could be approximately 100,000 tonnes provided manufacturing facilities are set up within the country to make the product affordable. www.earthsoulindia.com bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/08] Vol. 3 39

Basics Carbon and Environmental Footprint of PLA Products 1 - 10 yrs CO 2 Polymers, Chemicals & Fuels Sunlight energy CO 2 + H 2 O (CH 2 O) x + O 2 1 year Bio-chemical industry Chemical Industry NEW Carbon Biomass/Agricultural Crops > 10 6 yrs Fossil Recources petroleum, natural gas coal OLD Carbon Bioplastics like PLA use renewable (bio) carbon, and therefore provide an intrinsic reduced carbon footprint depending on the amount of renewable carbon in the product. This fundamental principle and concept behind the use of bio(renewable) feedstocks for reducing the carbon footprint is not captured or calculated in the many LCA’s reported or if it is, then it is lumped together with other related carbon emissions and the ‘intrinsic value proposition’ is lost. NEW (Renewable) Carbon Foodstock vs OLD (Fossil) Carbon Foodstock Fig 1: Global Carbon Cycling Carbon Management Nature’s Way 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 ‚ZERO‘ FOOTPRINT Starch/PLA Carbon Foodprint kg of CO 2 per 100 kg of plastic PET PP (85.71%c) Fig. 2: Intrinsic value proposition for ‘Bio’ feedstock 700 600 500 400 300 200 100 0 Starch Carbon Footprint Including Conversion CO 2 released during conversion Feedstock CO 2 release PET ZERO CARBON FOOTPRINT Intrinsic ‚Value Proposition‘ PP (85.71%c) Fig. 3: Intrinsic Value Proposition for ‘Bio’ feedstock (Source: E. Vink et. al.) The intrinsic ‘zero carbon’ value proposition is best explained by reviewing and understanding Nature’s Biological Carbon Cycle (see bM 01/2007). Nature cycles carbon through various environmental compartments with specific mass, rates, and time scales (see fig 1). Carbon is present in the atmosphere as CO 2 , essentially as inorganic carbon. The current levels of CO 2 are around 380 ppm. CO 2 is a life sustaining, heat trapping gas, and needs to be maintained at or around current levels to maintain life-sustaining temperature of the planet. While, one may debate the severity of effects associated with this or any other target level of CO 2 , there can be no disagreement that uncontrolled, continued increase in levels of CO 2 in the atmosphere will result in global warming and with it associated severity of effects affecting life on this planet as we know it. It is therefore prudent and necessary to try and maintain current levels – the ‘neutral or zero carbon’ approach. This can best be done by using annually renewable biomass crops as feedstocks to manufacture our carbon based products, so that the CO 2 released from the end-of-life of the product after use is captured by planting new crops or biomass in the next season. Specifically the rate of CO 2 release to the environment at end-of-life equals the rate of CO 2 fixation photo synthetically by the next generation biomass planted – a ‘neutral or zero carbon’ foot print. In the case of fossil feedstocks, the rate of carbon fixation is in millions of years while the end-of-life release rate into the environment is in 1-10 years – the math is simple, this is not sustainable and results in more CO 2 release than fixation, resulting in a increased carbon footprint with its associated severe environmental impacts. Thus, for every 100 kg of polyolefin (polyethylene, propylene) or polyester manufactured from a fossil 40 bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/08] Vol. 3

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