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06 | 2010

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Applications Determining

Applications Determining the optimal mesh size was another challenge. The mesh had to be small enough to contain a variety of particle sizes from grass clippings all the way to branches. The mesh gauge and shape of the bag had to compensate for small rips and tears without compromising the structural integrity of the bag. For more than 6-months, the team tested different gauges and patterns from extruders in Asia, the Americas and Europe. “A design isn’t finished until somebody is using it.” Kolada and his team quickly realized that finding an easy way to fill the mesh bags was an important step to figure out for homeowners. They tested dozens of filling systems including tripods, squares and funnels. In all, more than 40 different options were tested throughout a 12-month period. Included in these tests was the placement of the mesh bags in relation to the sleeve. Initially, the team thought the bags would be placed inside the sleeve. However, during a routine test, they tried placing the bag outside the sleeve. This proved to be an “aha” moment for Kolada and his design team. Placing the bag on the exterior of the sleeve allowed the bag to be stretched, thereby increasing the volume it could hold and making it easy to fill for the homeowner. Improvements were made along the way, including making the sleeve bottomless. Ambidextrous pull-tabs on both sides were added for easy handling. The sleeve and handles are made of woven polyethylene for strength and durability, and branding/instructions were put on the sleeve. The most promising options were handed over to homeowners for usability tests. The best option tested was a light-weight spring loaded cylindrical sleeve that measures 500mm in diameter and is 600 mm tall. Most participants found bags containing 10 or 15 kilograms of yard debris difficult to grasp and carry. This led to the design of an innovative ergonomic plastic handle that allows consumers to carry or drag three dsolv bags at one time. The handle can be used with or without gloves and features a belt clip. Of course, the new mesh bag product needed a name. Kolada liked the concept of the word ‘dissolve’ as it relates to the composting of the bag. He coined and trademarked the term dsolv. Today, after two years of non-stop design and testing, Kolada and his team are bringing the dsolv yard waste system to market. The new system will soon be available at home centers, garden centers and hardware stores in the U.S. and is currently available for sale online with new retailers constantly being added to the online list. “We‘ve had strong regional acceptance to the bag this fall and we are looking to 2011 to continue to get more communities on board,“ says Kolada. “Everyone who has seen and used the bags loves them we just need to continue that momentum and use it to get dsolv accepted across the U.S.“ Kolada feels strongly that the product is not only sensible to the environment, but also adds value to the marketplace and gives homeowners and government solid waste officials a viable alternative to kraft yard waste bags 38 bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/10] Vol. 5

Applications The Coca-Cola PlantBottle Article contributed by Klaus-Peter Stadler Director Commercialization & Stewardship Coca-Cola GmbH, Berlin, Germany In 1975 Coca-Cola started a packaging revolution by introducing the first PET plastic bottles into the market, which became a great success with our consumers and for our business. PET is light, versatile, recyclable and safe. Over the years, it has rapidly developed into our single biggest packaging material. Today, we want to repeat this historic leap in packaging design by introducing the new redesigned PET plastic bottle made partially from plants. We expect to have some 2.5 billion PlantBottles in the marketplace this year and we plan to double our use of PlantBottle packaging in 2011. We’re excited about the innovation and we’re already getting lots of positive feedback from customers and consumers. As most packaging experts know, PET is made to 70% of purified terephthalic acid (TA) and to 30% of mono-ethylene glycol (MEG). In the new PlantBottle we have replaced the conventional fossil-fuel based MEG through bio-based MEG using bio-ethanol from sugar cane juice and molasses. Bio-MEG is chemically identical to conventional MEG, which means that PlantBottle has the same performance in the market as other PET bottles: there’s no difference in shelf life, weight, chemical composition or appearance. While most plant-based plastics are capable of maintaining quality for a limited array of beverage types, our PlantBottle can be used with carbonated soft drinks, juices and waters. On top, it is fully recyclable in existing recovery and recycling programs and the material can be used back into new bottles or for other uses. All these characteristics make it an efficient, effective and environmentally friendly package option for our business. We have been careful to select plants based on sustainability criteria to ensure that they do not compete with food crops and are capable of delivering improved environmental performance. To ensure a broader sustainability standard for sugarcane, we have been engaged in the development of the Better Sugarcane Initiative, where also includes the leading bio-ethanol producers. To further improve the overall environmental performance, we introduce PlantBottle in Europe with up to 50% rPET, depending on the market. This gives us a bottle requiring very little new resources, because it is up to 65% made of recycled or renewable materials. We know that balancing different environmental aspects is sometimes a tricky issue, but we believe that the reducing fossil resources and increasing renewable sources is a critical step for the sustainability of our packaging, and hence for our business. Within the two years since the first introduction, we will have saved over 87.000 barrels of oil. We know we are at the beginning of a journey and we want to engage with stakeholders and interested parties to understand any potential issues and to work together on solutions. As with every new innovation, however, it requires time for optimization but we are confident that with increasing demand on our supply chain we will be able to further improve the economic and environmental parameters of the PlantBottle. For example, we are working to advance the development of next generation technologies capable of extracting sugar from plant wastes like stems, barks and fruit peels. And we still have more work to do to crack the code on a plant-based TA, which is the other 70% of PET plastic, but we know it is feasible. We’re aiming for a package that is 100% recyclable and 100% plant-based, but we know that is going to take time and a lot more Research & Development investment. Today, the PlantBottle is available in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Japan and Brazil. Soon, it will hit Chile and then expand more broadly to areas in Europe, Africa and Asia. We’re excited about the potential of plant-based PET plastics and we’re investing heavily in their future. bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/10] Vol. 5 39

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