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Review NPE, The

Review NPE, The International Plastics Showcase Bioplastics – a highlight at NPE 2006 in Chicago The triennial “National Plastics Exhibition” NPE 2006 in Chicago, held from June 19 to 23 this year for the 25th time has long become “The International Pastics Showcase” as the organizers call it. NPE 2006 attracted a total of 64,451 registrations and set new records for international participation. The total of international visitor registrations was 33% larger than in 2003 and accounted for 24% of all visitor registrations for NPE 2006. A total of 1,850 companies exhibited at NPE 2006, taking 88,210 m² of net exhibit space. Due to the international development in the recent months and years it was no surprise, that bioplastics played an important role at this exhibition. On the machine manufacturer side Leistritz presented high speed, energy input (HSEI) twin screw extruders for bioplastics (see separate article on page 14). International Degradable Plastics Symposium Preceding NPE an International Degradable Plastics Symposium was sponored by the BioEnvironmental Polymer Society (BEPS) and the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) at McCormick Place, the same location as NPE. In more than 60 presentations, some of which rather academic but many quite useful for this industry, experts from the USA and from all over the world shared their knowledge with about 200 attendees. At NPE a number of companies showed their products and developments in the field of bioplastics. Some of these are summarised in this article. Econeer from Korea for example presented Kondorax, a product made of wheat flour with a fibre component prepared from rice, wheat straw or paper mill sludge. Ecopol, a kind of aliphatic and aromatic polyester can be used as liquid coating for wheat flour-based products or paper. Other applications of Ecopol are films, hot melt adhesives or even textiles such as tablecloth. Ecopol can be injection moulded to products like cutlery or toothbrushes or blowmoulded into bottles. Both Kondorax and Ecopol are 100% made from renewable resources and fully biodegradable. DuPont announced that they are moving forward with plans to produce new high-performance thermoplastic resins and elastomer products made with renewable resources. The products will be targeted for automotive, electrical/electronic and other industrial markets. Intermediates for the DuPont engineering thermoplastics Sorona ® and thermoplastic polyester elastomers Hytrel ® made with renewable resources will be made from corn sugar instead of petroleum, using a patented and proprietary process. The key ingredient in Sorona is Bio-PDO, which replaces petrochemical-based 1,3- propanediol (PDO). The new Hytrel, produced using a new DuPont polyol made with Bio-PDO Sorona polymer for industrial applications, will be commercially available in mid-2007; and the renewably sourced Hytrel grades will be available in late 2007. bioplastics [06/01] Vol. 1

Review The NCAUR (National Center for Agricultural Utilization) a major research center of USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) informed about electroactive biopolymers. These are a new class of materials representing conductivity in plastics at levels comparable to conventional metals; these materials are produced using only natural polymers. Metabolix, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA uses sophisticated biotechnology to produce plastics materials from renewable resources. Metabolix is a world leader in applying the advanced tools of metabolic engineering and molecular biology to efficiently produce PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoates) Natural Plastics in microbial systems. The company has a strategic alliance with Archer, Daniels, Midland to produce these innovative materials via fermentation. Metabolix’s second platform technology, direct production in non-food crop plants such as switchgrass, is under development. Rejuven8 is one of the products presented by Spartech Corporation of Clayton, Missouri, USA. Made from 99% NatureWorks PLA, Rejuven8 is a custom sheet and rollstock product specifically developed for thermoforming applications. It has excellent clarity and die cutting characteristics and is relatively easy to thermoform and RF (radio frequency) seal. Its unique properties, however, also allow it to function well for many printed applications, as the company states. Rejuven8 is very well suited for food packaging, drinking cup, and tableware applications. The other product, Rejuven8Plus made from 95% NatureWorks PLA, was specifically developed for graphic art and printed applications although it also works well in most thermoforming processes. The unique alloy material has performance enhanced physical properties over standard PLA with impact properties similar to PET. Through secondary processing, Rejuven8Plus can be made to have raised „heat resistance“ properties to well over 65°C versus the 40°C - 50°C maximum temperature resistance possessed by standard PLA material. Typical applications for Rejuven8Plus consumer packaging, gift and phone cards, and plant tags. At the exhibiton stand of Ecopur, Mexico ecological polyurethane was the subject. While castor oil is well recognized as the one and only 100% natural polyol as a raw material for polyurethane, Ecopur go one step further: They offer polyester rigid polyols based on soy bean oil and PETresin with a variety in the characteristics fitted to different applications. PSM North America presented Plastarch Material (abbreviated PSM), a biodegradable resin made from corn starch. PSM consists of more than 80% corn starch, and it can completely return to nature after being used. PSM raw material and finished goods are ideal for a wide variety of applications including food packaging, industrial packaging, medical products and disposable items. Hertiage Bag Company’s new 100% biodegradable (ASTM 1 D-6400 certified) BioTuf TM compost bags were showcased at BASF’s exhibition stand. BioTuf compost bags are being utilized in organic diversion programs throughout the US and Canada. As compared to other biodegradable compost bags Heritage’s BioTuf has a much greater load capacity and is more economical in price. Heritage Plastics, a division of Heritage Bag Company also exhibited at the NPE reporting rapid sales growth of BioTuf compound to many private extruders in US and Canada. Heritage’s BioTuf compound was designed to process on conventional PE extruders with extremely high line/production efficiency. Hallink, based in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, provides complete turnkey solutions for PET and PLA bottle makers and bottlers throughout the western hemisphere and around the world. From specification, installation and training, to fully-tested production and after-market service, Hallink is a single source for state-of-the-art, moulds, change parts, SBM and injection moulding machines for PET and PLA. 1 American Society for Testing and Materials bioplastics [06/01] Vol. 1

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