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bioplasticsMAGAZINE_1204

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bioplasticsMAGAZINE_1204

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Cover Story For brand owners and packaging developers the improved barrier properties of PEF offer a range of innovation opportunities such as the extension of shelf life, further light weighting of bottles, the packaging of smaller volume carbonated drinks, and the replacement of glass by PEF for oxygen sensitive products. In a fast growing category of plastic packaging materials PEF offers the opportunity to increase plastic packaging penetration in a number of attractive market segments. PEF’s strongly reduced carbon footprint To assess the environmental footprint of YXY technology, Avantium is working with the Copernicus Institute at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, an independent organization specialized in making Life-Cycle-Analysis (LCA). Comparing YXY technology for making PEF with petroleum based PET, the Institute made a cradle-to-grave assessment of non-renewable energy use (NREU) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (Energy Environ. Sci., 2012, 5, 6407–6422). The results of this assessment demonstrated that the production of PEF reduces GHG emissions by 50-70% compared to PET and yields a 40- 50% reduction in NREU. The YXY technology platform is still in pilot development, so the ultimate reduction in non-renewable energy use and GHG emission may be even larger, if additional improvements in the process can be realized. Renewable feedstock The technology introduced here is a catalytic technology that converts plant-based carbohydrates into Furanics building blocks. The most important monomer is FDCA which is the key building block for the production of PEF. Like a number of other companies in the renewable chemical industry, Avantium is following a feedstock flexibility strategy, meaning that it can use different types of feedstock that are available today (corn, sugar cane, sugar beet) and feedstock that will become available in the future (agricultural waste, forest residues, waste paper, etc.). The ultimate choice of feedstock will depend on the geographical location of the production plant, the availability of feedstock, its sustainability and economic factors. Avantium is actively working on the use of feedstock from second-generation non-food crops to ensure that these are fully useable for the YXY technology. The company collaborates with a range of companies that work on the processing of non-food crops and waste streams into commercially viable carbohydrate streams. 14 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/12] Vol. 7

Cover Story Recyclable and renewable To successfully commercialize PEF bottles it is essential that PEF can be integrated into the existing infrastructure for the collecting and recycling of existing plastics. Avantium is working with its development partners to fully explore the recycling of PEF, and will engage with partners in the recycling community to ensure that PEF bottles can be recycled for different applications. Preliminary tests have demonstrated that PEF recycling will be very similar to PET recycling, by grinding and re-extruding the polymer (primary recycling), by remelting post-consumer waste followed by solid-state processing (secondary recycling) and by depolymerization through hydrolysis, alcoholysis, or glycolysis followed by repolymerization (tertiary recycling). Conclusion Where many bioplastics companies are pursuing biobased drop-in materials (bio-based versions of products that are made today from fossil resources, such as biopolyethylene, or bio-PET) it is interesting to see the PEF developments at Avantium. Using its proprietary YXY technology, Avantium converts plant-based carbohydrates into FDCA, a green monomer, to make the new polyester called PEF. According to Avantium, PEF is not only a renewable and recyclable material, but is also has differentiating properties that create a range of exciting innovation opportunities. In particular PEF’s fascinating oxygen and carbon-dioxide barrier properties make it a very attractive material for bottle and film applications. The product is still in the development phase so there are still questions that need to be answered by the developers of PEF over the coming years. An example is the recycling of PEF: the integration of PEF into the existing recycle stream looks promising but will need to be carefully managed. Avantium collaborates with leading brands and industrial companies to create a strong demand for biobased products based on its YXY technology. The company has already signed partnerships with The Coca-Cola Company and Danone for the development of 100% biobased PEF bottles, and with Solvay, Rhodia and Teijin Aramid for the creation of Furanic polyamide-based materials. Bolstered by the already existing partnerships, Avantium is actively seeking other like-minded brands and companies to help to challenge the status quo. 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 5 4 3 2 1 0 NREU PET PET+ PEF PEF+ CO 2 PET PET+ PEF PEF+ > 50% reduction www.avantium.com www.yxy.com Comparison of PEF versus PET (revised 2010 PET data set) NREU = non-renewable energy useage (GJ/tonne) CO 2 equivalents for GHG potential (tonne CO 2 equiv/tonne) PET+ and PEF+ means: biobased MEG bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/12] Vol. 7 15

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