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bioplasticsMAGAZINE_0703

Applications persible

Applications persible and biodegradable in water, and therefore comply with European draft standards. Plantic materials are certified with AIB-Vincotte’s “OK Biodegradable Water” conformity mark. The new barrier liners allow for efficient in-mold decoration, enabling high resolution printing of promotional and branding images. This presents many commercial benefits for Plantic Technologies, as the gas barrier materials it seeks to replace for this application do not possess high resolution printing capabilities. Mr. Rod Druitt, Managing Director of Universal Closures said, “The combination of factors such as excellent gas barrier properties, efficient in-mold decoration and high resolution printability present an innovative offering to global food and beverage industries that is differentiated from current barrier closure systems.” Amylose molecule Additionally, Plantic barrier liners offer a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to established barrier liners. Currently the recycling and recovery rates of PET – particularly PET bottles – are the highest of any other plastic. Some European countries boast a 60-70% recovery rate of PET bottles 1 . Since recycled PET is repeatedly used to make new bottles and fibres, keeping the PET recycling stream clean is of paramount importance. This requirement restricts the use of EVOH barrier closures because they contaminate the recycling stream with “black specks”. The new barrier liners, however, produce flakes in the recovery process which disperse and simply “wash away”, allowing for uncontaminated PET recycling. In commenting, Plantic’s Innovation Manager, Dr. Frank Glatz said, “The market potential for these barrier closures is significant. Through our strategic alliance with Universal Closures, Plantic has been able to offer an innovative product to the food and beverage industries. This innovation demonstrates our commitment to offering end users key functional benefits in using sustainable Plantic packaging material.” 1 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2006) Improving Recycling Markets, OECD Publishing, p. 124. www.plantic.com.au www.universalclosures.com 30 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/07] Vol. 2

Politics Overview of the Current Biopolymers Market Situation In the late eighties and early nineties new biopolymers on the basis of starch or polyhydroxyalkanoates produced by fermentation were first introduced onto the market. Despite initial enthusiasm and favourable predictions this first generation of biodegradable biopolymers was not able to establish itself commercially. This could at least partially be attributed to the material properties, some of which were not yet fully developed, but also to unfavourable political and commercial conditions, and to the fact that there was simply not enough ecological pressure on the decision makers in politics and industry to respond to unfavourable conditions at that time. A strong increase in the research and development of biopolymers was prompted by important developments in recent years, most of all by changing political conditions, a rising awareness of the limitation of petrochemical resources and soaring prices for raw materials, and of course by a growing ecological awareness among the general public, politics, industry and consumers. These second generation biopolymers currently established on the market are comparable to petrochemically-produced commodity plastics as far as their manufacture, processing and utilisation properties are concerned. Rising oil prices and ecologically motivated political support have been leading to price advantages for biopolymers, especially with regard to raw materials and disposal. Consequently, the remaining economic disadvantages due to limited production capacity can be compensated and biopolymers are becoming more and more competitive compared to conventional plastics, especially in the packaging industry. Meanwhile, the production of some of these second generation biopolymers has reached an industrial scale (Table 1). Article contributed by: Hans-Josef Endres, Andrea Siebert, Yordanka Kaneva*, University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Hanover, Germany Department of Bio Process Engineering *Supported by the German DBU (German Foundation for the Environment) Table 1: Current stage of development (2007) of thermoplastic biopolymers At the same time efforts are being made to retain the conventional processing methods used for petrochemical polymers, applying them to natural raw materials, e.g., bio-based alcohol for synthesis of polyethylene (Bio-PE) and polyamides (Bio-PA) or polyurethanes (Bio-PUR) bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/07] Vol. 2 31

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