vor 7 Jahren

06 | 2010

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  • Ingeo
  • Feedstock

Cover-Story Capacity for

Cover-Story Capacity for PLA Feedstock Recovery to Expand Significantly By January 2011, Belgium-based lactic acid producer Galactic will have quadrupled the capacity of its LOOPLA feedstock recovery process (also referred to as chemical recycling) from 500 tonnes to 2,000 tonnes annually. Not just capacity will change at the world’s largest PLA feedstock recovery plant; the capabilities of the processes there will expand as well. “Since the LOOPLA feedstock recovery process was launched a little more than 18 months ago, we’ve been processing material that was nearly 100% pure PLA back into the component monomer lactic acid,” said Steve Dejonghe, project manager for PLA recycling, Galactic. “The new processes coming on line this December and January are far more extensive. For example, we expect to be able to begin assessing the recovery of lactic acid from semi-durable bioplastics applications. In these products where blends and additives are used, it’s no longer required that the PLA content be 100%.” Dejonghe said that ongoing research into bioplastic applications result in more complex PLA formulations that may not be compostable. Chemical recycling of PLA at the Galactic plant will be more robust to contaminants such as dirt, pigments, additives, or even other polymers. Consequently, both post-industrial waste such as production trims and post-consumer waste such as packaging and fibers are ideal candidates for LOOPLA feedstock recovery. Dejonghe noted that perceptions of bioplastic have changed. When bioplastics were first introduced, their primary advantage was thought to be biodegradability. Now the emphasis on renewable resources and smaller carbon footprint has spurred the introduction of semidurable products that contain bioplastics. (See article on semi-durable products on pp 28) Biodegradability is only one of many properties that brand owners potentially look for in bioplastics. 16 bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/10] Vol. 6

Cover-Story Post-use PLA, such as Huhtamaki Ingeo cold cups used at rock concerts, festivals, and sporting events (see article next page) and event carpeting, such as Sommer Needlepunch’s Ingeo carpet used during the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, are hauled to the Galactic plant and reduced by depolymerization to the monomer lactic acid. The lactic acid is then used for industrial applications such as solvents for paints although manufacturing it back into PLA bioplastic is expected to be a large outlet longer term. PLA to PLA recovery and reuse, Dejonghe said, will make sense when a higher volume of input exists. “We want producers and users of PLA-based products to know that there is a channel open to them for recycling PLA through feedstock recovery,” Dejonghe said. ”And conversely, organizations should be aware there is a source of recovered lactic acid.” MT Our Cover-Girl Judith is impressed by the possibilities that feedstock recycling of PLA offer. “Recycling is a good thing, but recycling back into the building blocks - that’s super” bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/10] Vol. 6 17

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