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Cover Story Advertorial Sunglasses Cellulose derivatives for demanding injection moulding applications WinGram Industry CO., LTD is a polymer resin supplier that was founded in Hong Kong in 1998. Since the very beginning the company has produced traditional cellulose acetate materials among others for the production of frames for sunglasses. In 2009 the company started with the production of cellulose derivatives such as modified CA, cellulose acetate propionate (CAP) and cellulose acetate butyrate (CAB). These products are marketed under the company name Great River (Qin Xin) Plastic Manufacturer CO.,LTD, with the aim of offering more eco-friendly products. Using their own patented technologies, the characteristics of these products are different from traditional CA. Great River’s modified cellulose derivatives are phthalate free and ultimately biodegradable. Eric Chen, technical manager of Great River emphasizes the point: “Traditional cellulose acetate is not biodegradable, so in order to avoid misunderstandings we call the new product line PSC. This name comes from ‘Polysaccharides’. Our PSC modified cellulose derivatives are biodegradable.” The cellulose derivatives of Great River are certified biodegradable according to ISO 14855 (not 13432, as the resins are used for example for injection moulded products such as sunglasses or mobile phone protective covers – not for packaging) and they are suitable for anaerobic digestion (AD). The PSC materials are suitable for injection moulding, extrusion, and thermoforming, with mechanical properties similar to ABS. All resins can be processed on existing processing equipment without any modifications to the machine hardware. Of course the processing parameters have to be adapted accordingly. In three locations the company employs 60 people. The headquarters are in Hong Kong, the Great River plastic manufacturing plant with a capacity of 7,200 tonnes per year in QinYuan City (GuangDong province) and a sales office in Shenzhen. In addition to the CA products, Great River offers a second type of material: ECO6550 is a modified PLA, especially suitable for the production of compostable T-shirt bags. Frames for sunglasses Using the slogan: ‘Being green has never been so fashionable – 100% renewable – 100% biodegradable‘, a manufacturer of sunglasses from California (USA) is one of the first eyeglass frame customers for the new PSC materials. 18 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/12] Vol. 7

Injection Moulding and more … Another producer of optical products such as glasses and sunglasses is Artsgroup. This Hong Kong based company, established in 1973, manufactures branded sunglasses which are much liked in Europe and America. The group has over 30 years of experience in the manufacture and distribution of various kinds of high quality optical frames. Frames are sold to over 200 clients in over 30 countries. Artsgroup is interested in Great River’s PSC material. Recently they announced that they are ready to design new styles especially for these kinds of bioplastics. The positive decision process is very much thanks to their famous brand customers in Europe and America, who are asking them to use more ‘green’ plastics in new designs. The designs, based on resin that is free of phthalates and bisphenol A, are also very resistant against sweat – an ideal application for sunglass frames. The mechanical properties are similar to ABS and compared to other bioplastics the flexibility and heat resistance is much better – not unimportant when it comes to, for example, transportation. In addition, they offer a unique ‘self-healing’ effect for the surface. This means that small scratches will disappear over time by simply using the product (i.e. by sliding in and out of the shirt pocket). “For the optical frame industry, producing materials in different colours and effects is also very important. The effect of colouring PSC is very impressive, and the special glossy touch is excellent,” as Eric points out. Being asked why biodegradability is so important for eyeglass frames, Eric explains: “Our clients told us that many of their customers change to a new pair of glasses each year and also, sometimes sunglasses get lost outdoors. And if the sunglasses are biodegradable, they could offer the opportunity to protect the environment and help the consumer feel better.” Besides frames for sunglasses Great River have customers in other market areas where alternatives to petroleum based plastics are already becoming more and more popular, especially for disposable and semi-durable products. Examples are cutlery, lids, straws, bags, shampoo bottles in hotels, and also computer and communication products or toys. For the future Great River is investigating further improvements. Eric Chen: “We are working hard to make the price of bioplastics more competitive with traditional plastics.” Our cover girl Jenny is convinced: “It is already five minutes to twelve and I appreciate all efforts to reduce the consumption of petroleum and to reduce the greenhouse effect”. (all photos: Philipp Thielen) bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/12] Vol. 7 19

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