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News New Zealand‘s

News New Zealand‘s first ever Bio-Bottle “Try Me, NZ’s first ever Bio-Bottle” reads the swing tag hanging from New Zealand’s first bottled water product made from PLA. After two years of product research and development, ‘good’ was launched in September by The Good Water Company. CEO Grant Hall claims ‘good’ is the world’s most sustainable bottled water package. The Good Water Company will donate 10 cents for every bottle sold to support The Sir Peter Blake Trust. Sir Peter Blake’s famous quote “good water, good life” is being used to market this initiative to reinforce how significant water is in sustaining quality of life and how we must commit to protecting the environment. While these bio-bottles cost more to produce, The Good Water Company doesn’t want to penalise the consumer at the retail end for making the right purchasing decision, so ‘good’ will also be competitively priced in relation to non-sustainable plastic rivals. After ‘Biota’ in the US and the UK-based ‘Belu’, Hall says ‘good’ uses that same technology and goes one step further by using a compostable wood pulp label complete with a water-based adhesive. The actual water itself is certified bio-gro organic and comes from a unique silica rich source at the Kauri Springs in Kaiwaka, Northland. The projects biggest challenge has been formulating an end of life plan for the bottles once consumers have used them. Approximately, 14,000 tonnes of plastic bottles go to landfill each year and the rest go to China. The Good Water Company wants to lead the way on the sustainable recycling of bottles in New Zealand and is a foundation partner in Greenplastics Incorporated, the countries first ever product stewardship organisation set up to manage end of life options for bio-polymers. The challenge is that the end of life program for bio-bottles can only work if enough of them are collected, which means the plan needs the support of retail customers in enough volume to make it viable. “It’s up to the public,” says Hall whose sales promotion for good offers purchasers the chance to win a trip to Antarctica. “If enough people support this project then we will be able to recycle the bottle here in New Zealand and that would be a first for any bottled water product in the country.” A natural container for natural products Silita, Spanish packaging manufacturer, is working together with a major producer and bottler of edible olive oil to test the behaviour of their product when packed in PLA bottles. The company, which specialises in manufacturing PET containers, has produced its first bottles with this new material and is conducting storage trials with different products, including oils, water, juices and dairy products. The NatureWorks PLA material was supplied by Safiplast S.L. , who also helped to co-ordinate the project. Safiplast S.L., (Barcelona, Spain) has been supplying machinery and services to produce bottles and drums using a range of technologies and materials for over 40 years. This project shows its interest in implementing projects for bottles made with the new bioplastic materials. 10 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/07] Vol. 2

Event Review 1 st PLA Bottle Conference The 1 st PLA Bottle Conference hosted by bioplastics MAGAZINE (September 12-13, Hamburg, Germany) attracted over 100 experts from more than 25 countries. Delegates from the beverage industry as well as bioplastics experts came from all over Europe, North America and countries as far away as Hawaii, Australia, South Africa and even Bhutan in the Himalayas. In the first session speakers from Uhde Inventa Fischer and NatureWorks introduced the basics of PLA. How is starch (e.g. from corn) converted into lactic acid and then into PLA? What properties of PLA lead to which applications, including stretch blow moulded bottles? Husky and SIG Corpoplast, being the machine suppliers for the first commercially available PLA preforms and bottles, covered the issues surrounding the particular processing characteristics of PLA. Caps and labels made from bioplastics were the subject of the next session with contributions from Novamont, Netstal and Wiedmer. The presentations about possibilities and challenges were rounded off by a presentation by Bernd Merzenich about the successful market launch of the German „Vitamore“ bottle. Bill Horner of Naturally Iowa commented on his experience with PLA milk bottles in a series of video clips. Distilling all of the experiences discussed, it can be stated, that until now the most significant limitations to the use of PLA as a bottle material are its low heat resistance and the poor barrier against water vapour and gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide. However, „until now“ is an important phrase, which Mike Gamble of Coca-Cola also stressed in his presentation on „a brand owners perspective“. „A few year ago we might have been sitting here together and discussing the same questions about PET,“ he said. And, as the third subtitle of the conference was „prospects“, a presentation from Purac showed the possibilities to enhance the heat resistance of PLA by applying a stereocomplexation of PLA with PDLA. The presentation by SIG Pasmax on the other hand focussed on the prospects of improving the barrier properties of PLA by applying a thin glass-like (SiOx) layer on the inside of the bottle. This method exhibited barrier improvement factors (BIF) of about 90 for oxygen and of 4.5 for water vapour. The presentations were rounded off with talks by Polyone and Colormatrix about processing and colour additives. Erwin Vink of NatureWorks addressed the important issue of life cycle analyses and the possibilities to further reduce the environmental footprint of PLA. The conference ended with a panel discussion about possible „end of life options“. A clear conclusion to the question for the best option could of course not be found at this stage. However, the opinion that composting is not the best option was widely agreed. And as long as the (at present) limited amounts of PLA do not reach a critical mass for sorting and recycling, incineration with energy recovery seems to be a good solution. The technologies for sorting (e.g. via NIR = Near Infrared) and recycling, mechanical as well as chemical, are available. It is only a question of reaching the critical mass. After the conference the delegates were invited to visit the SIG Corpoplast and SIG Plasmax plant in Hamburg. Here the companies demonstrated the stretch blow moulding of PLA on a laboratory machine as well as the plasma coating of bottles. As the conference was considered by many – delegates as well as speakers, and by the organisers – as a great success, the second PLA Bottle Conference is definitely planned for 2008. However, date and place are still to be chosen. bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/07] Vol. 2 11

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