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News 15% annual growth

News 15% annual growth for biodegradable plastics According to a new IHS Chemical global market research report, mounting consumer pressure and legislation such as plastic bag bans and global warming initiatives will increase demand for biodegradable plastics. In North America, Europe and Asia demand will rise to nearly 525,000 tonnes in 2017 (from 269,000 tonnes in 2012). This represents an average annual growth rate of nearly 15% during his period. The IHS Chemical CEH Biodegradable Polymers Marketing Research Report focuses on biodegradable polymers, including compostable materials, but not necessarily including all biobased products. In terms of biodegradable polymer end-uses, IHS estimate that the food packaging (including fast-food and beverage containers), dishes and cutlery markets are the largest enduses and the major growth drivers. In both North America and Europe, these markets account for the largest uses and strong, double-digit growth is expected in the next several years. Foam packaging once dominated the market and continues to represent significant market share for biodegradable polymers, behind food packaging, dishes and cutlery. Compostable bags, as well as single-use carrier plastic bags, follow foam packaging in terms of volume. “The biodegradable polymers market is still young and very small, but the numbers are off the charts in terms of expected demand growth and potential for these materials in the coming years,” said Michael Malveda, principal analyst of specialty chemicals at IHS Chemical and the report’s lead author. “Food packaging, dishes and cutlery constitute a major market for the product because these materials can be composted with the food waste without sorting, which is a huge benefit to the waste management effort and to reducing food waste and packaging disposal in landfills. Increasing legislation and consumer pressures are also encouraging retailers and manufacturers to seek out these biodegradable products and materials.” In 2012, Europe was the dominant market for biodegradable polymers consuming 147,000 tonnes or about 55% of world consumption; North America accounted for 29% and Asia approximately 16%. Landfill waste disposal and stringent legislation are key market drivers in Europe and include a packaging waste directive to set recovering and recycling targets, a number of plastic bag bans, and other collection and waste disposal laws to avoid landfill. The most acceptable disposal method for biodegradable polymers - according to IHS - is composting. However, composting requires an infrastructure, including collection systems and composting facilities. Composting has been a growing component of most European countries’ municipal solid waste management strategies for some time, and the continent has an established and growing network of facilities, while the U.S. network of composting facilities is smaller, but expanding. In 2012, the two most important commercial, biodegradable polymers were polylactic acid (PLA) and starch-based polymers, accounting for about 47% and 41%, respectively, of total biodegradable polymers consumption. MT Biome Bioplastics to investigate lignin The UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, has awarded a £150,000 (€ 176,000) grant to a consortium led by Biome Technologies, to investigate a biobased alternative for the oil derived organic chemicals used in the manufacturer of bioplastics. The research will be undertaken by the group’s bioplastic division Biome Bioplastics (Southampton, UK) in conjunction with the University of Warwick’s Centre for Biotechnology and Biorefining. The project is scheduled to last nine months and is about scaling up laboratory results to test their technical feasibility for commercial use, as reported by One of the most interesting sources of biobased chemicals is lignin, a waste product of the pulp and paper industry, thus being a potentially abundant feedstock that could provide the foundation for a new generation of bioplastics. Biome has partnered with the University of Warwick’s Centre for Biotechnology and Biorefining that is pioneering academic research into lignin degrading bacteria. Together they want to develop methods to control the lignin breakdown process to determine whether aromatic chemicals can be isolated from the lignin in significant quantities. These aromatic chemicals are to replace the oil-derived equivalent currently used in the production of a polyester that conveys strength and flexibility in some of BIOME’s bioplastics. “The environmental and social concerns surrounding the use of fossil fuels make lignin a compelling target as a source of chemicals”, explains Professor Tim Bugg, Director of the Centre. “Often considered a waste product, it may provide a sustainable source of building blocks for aromatic chemicals that can be used in bioplastics”. “The bioplastics market remains small compared to that of fossil-based polymers”, comments Biome Bioplastics CEO Paul Mines. “Growth is restricted by the price of bioplastic resins being 2-4 times that of their petrochemical counterparts. We anticipate that the availability of a high performance polymer, manufactured economically from renewable sources would considerably increase the market”. MT 8 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/13] Vol. 8

Events International conference in Cologne With 180 participants (60% up on 2012) from 23 countries (up 50%), this year’s International Conference on Industrial Biotechnology and Bio-based Plastics & Composites organized by the nova-Institute (Hürth, Germany) further established itself as a major industry meeting-place and visitors both grew in number and became more international. Lengthening the conference to three days to provide comprehensive coverage of political, industrial and scientific issues proved a success. The focus of this year’s conference was on the United States and Germany. The large number of American speakers and participants contributed to a thrilling dialogue between the world’s two leading industrial biotechnology countries. Policy The first day was largely devoted to discussing the political framework that could drive the development of the biobased economy and, above all, biobased materials and products. Industry During the industry sessions on the first and second day, companies such as Clariant Produkte (Germany), BASF (Germany), DuPont (USA), Bayer MaterialScience (Germany), NatureWorks (USA), Johann Borgers (Germany) and FlexForm Technologies (USA) presented their plans for biorefineries, new biobased polymers and natural-fibrereinforced composites. Science This was the first time that the conference had been extended to a third, scientific day, which nova-Institute organised with the collaboration of Professor Dr Jörg Müssig from Bremen University of Applied Science’s Bionics Innovation Centre. The organisers had succeeded in bringing together 13 renowned speakers from the USA and Germany. Biomaterial of the Year 2013 There was great interest in the awards ceremony for the Innovation Prize for Biomaterial of the Year 2013, which, as in previous years, was sponsored by Coperion GmbH and, for the fifth time, conference participants voted for the winners. This prize is awarded to new practical applications of biobased materials. Around 20 companies from the USA and Germany entered the competition. The First prize, Biomaterial of the Year 2013, was awarded to Newlight Technologies, LLC for its Airflex (AirCarbon) resins. CEO Mark Herrema presented a new kind of highyield technology chain to produce thermoplastics (PHAs) from greenhouse gases (such as CO 2 and methane). See page 14 for a more comprehensive article on this technology The 2 nd prize went to fischerwerke GmbH & Co. KG (Germany) for their bio-PA universal UX green plug and the 3 rd prize was awarded to 4e solutions GmbH & TECNARO GmbH (Germany) - ajaa! For their product line of sustainable household articles from bioplastics - made in Germany. Both were already introduced in earlier issues of bioplastics MAGZINE. MT left to right: Uta Kühnen (Coperion, Mark Herrema, Newlight, Michael Carus, nova-Institute) bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/13] Vol. 8 9

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