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bioplasticsMAGAZINE_0702

Applications Article

Applications Article contributed by Patrick Zimmermann, FkuR Kunststoff GmbH, Willich, Germany Compostable mulch films made from PLA blends www.fkur.com www.umsicht.fraunhofer.de www.oerlemansplastics.nl FKuR Kunststoff GmbH of Willich, in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT, has developed and brought to market the first compostable mulch film based on a PLA blend. The PLA blends used are a mixture of PLA (polylactide) and further biodegradable polymers plus additives. Industrial production and application testing of the PLA mulch films have been carried out by Oerlemans Plastics B.V. of Genderen in the Netherlands. In comparison to other biodegradable films this novel bio mulch film has the significant advantage of degrading more slowly and being less sensitive to climatic variations. In 2004 FKuR had already initiated the first tests for biodegradable mulch films. The degradation behaviour of the film under “open-air conditions“ was assayed in laboratory tests. Since 2005 the industrial application of the film has been carried out together with Oerlemans Plastics. A crucial factor that persuaded Oerlemans Plastics to go for the FKuR PLA mulch film was, amongst others, the problem-free processing of the film on conventional extruders, as used in the production of LDPE films. In the run-up to industrial production the application of the Bio-Flex ® mulch film was successfully tested on various crops by several European research institutes and experimental stations. Since 2005 the compostable PLA mulch films have been tested worldwide on a variety of crops in several climates. The crop yield with this biofilm is comparable to conventional mulch films made from PE. The PLA mulch films are laid out using conventional laying machines without any difficulty. An important advantage in comparison to other biofilms based on, for example starch, lies in the considerably slower degradation of the film and its resistance to climatic variations. A further advantage of the application of bio mulch films for agriculture is that the film can be easily ploughed in after harvesting, and continues to degrade in the soil. The application of Bio-Flex mulch films reduces the amount of work and the costs of disposal. The granules and the film are fully compostable according to EN 13432. Additionally they are certified in accordance with to DIN Certco, OK Compost, NFU 52001 and Ecocert. 28 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/07] Vol. 2

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