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Applications Trays made

Applications Trays made from sugarcane By Thomas Isenburg The previous article is just one example that shows that there is considerable potential in growing sugarcane to extract the building block sugar – not only to produce ethanol – and to exploit the potential that can be found in the stalks and leaves – the bagasse. Natura Verpackungs GmbH from Rheine in Germany has focused its activities on this particular area. In addition to sugar, a large amount of bagasse, the biomass remaining after the stalks are crushed, is produced during the sugar refining process. Bagasse is used as energy source and also to produce paper, cardboard and packaging material due to its high cellulose content. According to Natura‘s sales director, Patrick Gerritsen, the company has been manufacturing sugarcane trays for some time. The sugarcane trays are not made from bioplastic, but rather from a pulp made of plant fibres. Therefore the stalks and leaves (the bagasse) are crushed and then the fibrous pulp is compression moulded into trays Being used as a substitute for polystyrene trays based on renewable raw materials, sugarcane trays are greenhouse gas neutral. When they are incinerated, the same amount of carbon dioxide is released as was absorbed by photosynthesis when the plant was growing. The product is fully biodegradable in accordance with the EN 13432 standard. The material breaks down completely within six to twelve weeks – even in home comosting. This means consumers can dispose of the product on their garden compost heap. Sugarcane trays are used mainly in packaging for fruit, vegetables, potatoes, meat products and industrial packaging. The material has many advantages: Unlike conventional plastic packaging, the trays are permeable to water vapour and oxygen. It has been observed that this considerably prolongs the shelf life of fruit. Sugarcane products retain their shape, which allows them to be processed more easily. Compared with products made from paper-pulp, they are considerably more waterproof and have a price advantage. Sugarcane trays are more expensive than polystyrene products, but this situation could change with rising oil prices. In order to service the growing market better, Natura has made a vertical backwards integration in the supply chain by co-operating with Earth Buddy in China. Earth Buddy is the world’s largest manufacturer of sugarcane products with all necessary certifications in place. There are plans to quadruple production in China within two years. The target is to produce one billion trays per year. Natura is developing its own machines, in order to satisfy customer requirements and, in view of the depletion of oil supplies, an even greater market potential is anticipated in the future. Furthermore Natura has established with Natura ASP in the UK, Natura- Modiplast in Israel and Natura Iberia in Portugal and Spain a supplier network in Europe and the Middle East to serve their customers throughout all the seasons. Further subsidiaries in key areas will follow soon. 28 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/07] Vol. 2

Applications Universal Closures Limited, headquartered in Tewkesbury, UK, in collaboration with Plantic Technologies Limited from Altona (VIC) Australia, have developed a barrier closure with printed Plantic ® liners. New Closures for beverage Bottles with Printed Plantic Barrier Liners Universal Closures’ new barrier closure is based on a three-component closure design – closure shell, barrier liner and closure liner are made from different materials with the barrier liner being made from Plantic ® . The barrier liner is sandwiched between the closure liner and the closure shell, thereby providing enhanced gas barrier protection to the contents, and effective in-mold decoration. Barrier closures with Plantic barrier liners are a technological breakthrough in packaging, complementing the existing functional properties of barrier bottles which are currently used for applications where extended shelf-life is targeted. The new barrier closures facilitate CO 2 retention, beneficial for carbonated drinks and prevent oxygen ingress which can cause certain products such as sauces, preserved fruits, juices and beer to degrade. Plantic barrier liners are made from non-genetically modified renewable resources – high amylose corn starch. They are high resolution printable and excellent gas, taint and odor barriers. They are also anti-static , sealable and laser etchable. The barrier liners are dis- bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/07] Vol. 2 29

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