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Events The significance

Events The significance of bioplastics as a central component of the European bioeconomy strategy is undisputed. This was the core message of the plenary talks by Alfredo Aguilar Romanillos, European Commission, Clemens Neumann, Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Germany, and John Williams, NNFCC, during the 7 th European Bioplastics Conference on 6 and 7 November in Berlin. Bioplastics still on the rise 7 th European Bioplastics Conference demonstrates the future potential of the industry (Photos: European Bioplastics) Numerous questions connected to the growth of the bioplastics industry were discussed during the 7 th European Bioplastics Conference – such as: How is the growing supply of bioplastics affecting public awareness? Which market segments will grow in particular and what impacts will this growth have? What are the potential side-effects of adding bioplastics to existing recycling streams? In particular the latter was a hot topic at the conference. “Give us a sufficient amount of any plastic – be it PLA or any other bioplastic – and we can sort it and recycle it”. This was the main message of the recycling industry to the bioplastics industry during a podium discussion moderated by Thomas Probst of the Federal Association of Secondary Raw Materials and Disposal (BVSE). The ‘7 th Annual Global Bioplastics Award’ ceremony by bioplastics MAGAZINE was another highlight of this year’s conference. 2012, saw two winners take the award (see page 12). European Bioplastics addressed the significant topic of ‘environmental communication for bioplastics’ in a half-day workshop the day prior to the conference (5 November). Representatives of the bioplastics industry, the communications industry, and experts of environmental initiatives as well as public institutions discussed various cases concerning the essential issue, “Where does greenwashing start?”. “The workshop discussion reflected a very open atmosphere and we are pleased that we were able to welcome a diverse range of participants – amongst them representatives of Deutsche Umwelthilfe (German Environment Aid DHU) and Greenpeace,“ said Andy Sweetman, Chairman of European Bioplastics. “Regular exchanges on important topics such as environmental communication are essential, particularly in the case of a vibrant growth area such as the bioplastics industry“. European Bioplastics intends to continue its promotion of best practice communication in the area of bioplastics with a series of workshops during the next year. Now in its seventh year, the European Bioplastics Conference, with around 400 participants and 240 companies from around the world, has once again shown itself to be the leading information platform globally. Participants this year came from the following regions: approx. 85% of participants came from Europe, 10% visited from Asia, and the majority of the remaining 5% came from North and South America. 10 bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/12] Vol. 7

Events Conference on CO 2 as feedstock The use of carbon dioxide to produce chemical materials of various types using biotechnical processes is at present being actively researched and further developed, and the potential end products even include plastics (cf. bM 05/2012). Alongside this chemists would like to convert CO 2 gas, using catalysts, into important basic raw materials such as formic acid, polycarbonates and polyurethanes. The central idea here is to use CO 2 as a source of carbon. However this raw material is very low in energy and has a very slow reaction time. A chemical device to overcome this is the use of a catalyst, since these speed up the reaction time significantly when converting the gas in other substances and reduce the activation energy required for the conversion. Additionally the reactive epoxides are available as partners in the reaction, The nova-institute organised, on October 10 th and 11 th in Essen, Germany, the ‘1 st Conference on CO 2 as Feedstock’. In total 180 participants from 22 countries responded to the invitation. Among others Bayer, BASF and DSM, as well as Novomer of the USA, spoke on the development of polymers. Within the framework of the ‘Dream Productions’ project at Bayer Material Science besides petroleum, biomass, carbon and natural gas, carbon dioxide is being introduced as a source of raw material. There is in fact already a pilot plant in existence for the production of CO 2 -based polyurethanes. Bayer is working here very closely with the Technical University of Aachen in Germany (RWTH) and with the energy supplier RWE AG. The energy company can supply CO 2 from their coal-fired power plants. At the beginning of 2012 BASF finished a project for the use of ‘CO 2 as a basic input material for polymers’, in which the availability and low cost of the CO 2 played an important part. The polymers can contain up to 43% of CO 2 so that it is possible to partially forgo the use of crude oil as a raw material. Furthermore some of such products can be biodegradable, which opens up new avenues for biopolymers (cf. bM 05/2012). Together with Siemens, the Technical University of Munich and the University of Hamburg, BASF are developing blends with up to 70% PLA. The raw materials manufacturer DSM produces, in a related way, poly(ester-co-carbonate). The starting materials here are acid anhydrides, epoxides and CO 2 . The chemicals company uses chromium catalyst systems and works in close association with the Technical University of Eindhoven. Already well into the market in the USA is the company Novomer with ‘High Performance CO 2 -based Polyols’. Here too they are deeply involved with the development of catalysts for the manufacture of polypropylene carbonates. The company has already produced for some time polymers with CO 2 as a raw material. The conference event was rounded off with the presentation of an ’Innovation Award’. The first prize went to Dr. Sean Simpson from New Zealand for his work in the field of biotechnology and the innovative production of ethanol, alongside other chemicals, in a simply built reactor. Here genetically modified bacteria are used. The other prizewinners, plus more details on the projects and the conference, can be found at - TI Info: bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/12] Vol. 7 11

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