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Review 2 nd European

Review 2 nd European Bioplastics Conference in Disneyland Paris Dr. Harald Käb The 2nd European Bioplastics Conference has proven to be the place to be in bioplastics industry. 360 bioplastics professionals from 29 countries met in Paris at the largest bioplastics event ever in Europe that was organised for the second time by the industry association European Bioplastics. Record attendance of delegates, speakers and exhibitors The number of delegates as well as the comprehensive exhibition showed the relevance of the promising industry. The delegates followed the presentations of 45 speakers about material novelties, biopackaging innovations, consumer insights, political frameworks to end of life options in alternating plenary and parallel sessions. The exhibition room, where 26 exhibiting companies showcased their latest products and developments, provided a unique environment for extended networking. Keynotes on bioplastics The first plenary session was opened by a welcome adress of Dr. Harald Käb, Chairman of European Bioplastics and Christophe Doukhi-de Boissoudy, Chairman of the French Clubbioplastiques. Käb introduced the challenges for the future bioplastics development: „Sufficient material supply will be a very basic parameter for the future of bioplastics. This can be achieved by utilising existing production capacities to the full, building up new production sites by known and yet unknown market players and broadening the scope of materials and material properties.“ Also waste management will play a crucial role as well as material developments. „The bioplastics industry is at a cutting edge. Fortunately, politics become more and more aware of the potential of reducing dependency on crude oil not only for fuels but also in material use of renewable ressources.“ The representative of the French Ministry of Agriculture, Julien Turienne, took up the thread and explained the French policies for bio-based products, which are motivated by 14 bioplastics MAGAZINE [07/04] Vol. 2

Review 360 bioplastics experts 26 exhibitors their advantages, i.e. the substitution of non renewable resources, the improvement of innovation and competitiveness and the preservation and creation of jobs in agriculture and agro-industry. Amongst the French actions are the proposal to prefer bioplastic bags regulated by law (which was rejected by the European Commission due to the free trade and packaging directive; France now works on transforming these measures in incentive measures, e.g. ecotax). Production capacities European Bioplastics estimates the global production capacities of bioplastics to sextuple until 2011. The shares of the three material classes synthetic/biodegradable, biobased/biodegradable and biobased/non-biodegradable are expected to change significantly towards biobased/ nonbiodegradable bioplastics. While their share is about 12% in 2007 (of a total production capacity of 262.000 tonnes/year), in 2011 the share of biobased/non-biodegradable bioplastics will be almost 40% of total capacity. The overall capacity will increase to 766.000 tonnes/year in 2009 to about 1.500.000 tonnes/year in 2011. European Bioplastics bases its estimations on publicly available announcements that have been published in the last months as well as on information gathered amongst their members. Provided a positive access to capital markets and thus investments production capacities can grow even faster. Material properties and material types To capture an even broader application range than today some bioplastics need to improve their material properties. Basically, this applies for barrier properties and heat resistance. Usual PLA softens at a temperature of about 60°C and is not deployable for several applications. According to a manufacturer, PLA composed from D- and L- lactic acid shall be heat resistant up to 175°C. Thus, PLA will become applicable for e.g. micro-wave suitable products. According to several studies PLA bottles have a large growth potential. To capture more applications the barrier properties need improvement.The high permeability of water vapour for instance reduces the shelf-life. However, it is expected that new PLA types and barrier solutions will widen the scope of applications very soon. It is likely that new bioplastic materials and an increasing availability of bioplastics will accelerate product innovations. Waste management and bioplastics treatment Waste management will be a key success factor of bioplastics in two different ways. On the one hand, for compostable plastic products it is crucial to have composting infrastructures in place. That’s the reason why European Bioplastics advocates for a separate collection of organic and residual waste and for installing composting sites across Europe. In the EU, organic waste accounts for around 38% of municipal waste. This amounts to around 120 million tonnes of organic waste per year, with the potential to obtain over 50 million tonnes of compost annually (in EU 25). On the other hand European Bioplastics is strongly supporting an adequate treatment of bioplastics given the quantities of the material. Organizing the most optimized waste management system is dependent on local infrastructures for collection and recycling, local and regional regulations, the total volume on the market available and the composition of waste streams. With both bioplastics and biopackaging in their infancy, the development of the market should not be delayed even though the most optimal recovery systems have often not been recognized by local authorities. The risks associated with existing recovery schemes should be monitored. These will be limited at this time given the relatively small volumes that currently enter the market. Once volumes reach a critical mass, waste management systems which make most sense from an environmental and economic point of view can be set up. Over time, recycling may be the best option for certain bioplastics, especially if a homogenous stream can be organized such as in place for plastic bottles. bioplastics MAGAZINE [07/04] Vol. 2 15

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