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News Persistence that

News Persistence that bore fruit The perseverance of a young Turkish girl from Istanbul, who spent two years on a project to develop a bioplastic from banana peel, was recently rewarded when she was named this year’s winner of the 2013 ,000 Science in Action award. With her Going Bananas project, Elif Bilgin, 16, aimed to develop a method for recycling a waste material in ample supply - banana peels - into feedstock for a bioplastic that could replace conventional petroleum-based plastic. She reasoned that because the peels contained starch, it should be possible to produce plastic from them instead of simply throwing them away. This proved easier said than done. In the course of her project, Elif conducted 12 pilot experiments, the first 10 of which failed when the plastic started showing signs of degradation after 3 days. Her persistence finally paid off, however, when her final two experiments produced a plastic that she describes as showing “no signs of decay after 2 months, and counting”. Having successfully produced a new banana plastic offering an inexpensive and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional plastic, Elif now hopes that it will be adopted by the industry for wider use, envisioning such applications as insulation for electric cables and cosmetic prostheses. As the winner of the Science in Action award, Elif also receives a full year’s mentorship to further her research. The award, which is part of the Google Science Fair online competition, is sponsored by Scientific American, and recognizes a project that makes a practical difference by addressing an environmental, health or resources challenge. Elif will also attend the finalist awards event at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, USA, in September 2013, as she is also a finalist in the overall Google Science Fair for the 15-16-year-old category. KL Info: More info about the project at And a videoclip at Biopac announces leading role in eclipse Biopac (Pershore, Worcestershire, UK) announced a leading role in ECLIPSE, an international consortium which has secured funding of €5 million to develop innovative packaging using natural materials in order to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. Eclipse aims to develop fully sustainable packaging utilising non-edible waste (derived from banana plants, almond shells and crustacean shell waste), and micro-algae to produce environmentally friendly biopolymers to rival conventional oil based plastics. Among other targets this project aims at decreasing the production costs of PLA. The bioplastic aims to demonstrate similar characteristics to the films used in packaging solutions. The new material will have good mechanical characteristics – light, moisture, gas and odour barrier properties similar to Polyethylene or PET that is used in beverage, food and other liquid containers. Some of the expected benefits of Eclipse include: • More environmentally friendly packaging through the use of biomass wastes which will reduce the carbon footprint and the energy consumption required to produce packaging materials. • Biodegradability/Compostability meeting the EN 13432 compostability standard. This is a valuable alternative to the waste disposal of certain packaging items such as agricultural bags used in growing bananas. • Reduced CO 2 emissions of the overall process. Mark Brigden, Technical Director at Biopac, said: “The Eclipse consortium has the potential to overcome the handicaps that prevent (biobased) materials such as PLA from achieving a much bigger share of the packaging market. Flexible pouches and agricultural bags are target markets and will utilise the breakthrough improvements in the performance and characteristics of the new material. This advanced research keeps Europe at the forefront of packaging innovation.” The Eclipse project relies upon the participation of several multinational companies (Biopac, Futerro, Banacol, Antartic and Galactic) and European and Latin American firstrate research centres, including univer-sities from Spain, Belgium, Swe-den, Germany, Colombia and Chile. 6 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/13] Vol. 8

News / People Swiss consensus on bioplastics Switzerland has a long tradition of domestic politics based on consensus. And when it comes to biodegradable plastics and their disposal this is no different. European Bioplastics spoke to Daniel Trachsel, Managing Director of the Association of Swiss Composting and Methanisation Plants. EuBP: Switzerland is the first country that has reached an all-stakeholder consensus regarding the treatment of biodegradable materials (including biodegradable plastics) in waste streams. Could you shortly outline the gist of the compromise? DT: The agreement includes restricted acceptance of bioplastics in biowaste treatment plants to further on guarantee a good quality of compost and digestate. Only bags designed for the collection of biowaste (primarily or secondary use) are allowed without restrictions. Other bioplastics like dishes, flower pots or sheeting may only be composted or fermented if they originate from a defined source like events or companies that agreed in advance with the biowaste treatment plant. All bioplastics meant to be composted or fermented have to be marked with a grid printed on at least 70 % of the surface. The communication on the material has to point clearly to the optimal disposal chain. EuBP: How did you arrive at this compromise – which stakeholders were included and what were the important milestones of the process? DT: Starting in 2001, cities faced with bioplastic bags undistinguishable from normal plastics and containing lots of contraries were alarmed and started building up a working group. Today, the whole supply chain and the disposal chain are involved. This includes producers of raw material, dealers, wholesalers, plastic recyclers, municipial disposers, biowaste treatment plants and national authorities. We do regret that the two new German players on the Swiss market, Aldi and Lidl, have not yet joined the consensus. The first consensus was found in 2004, followed by an interim version 2008. The 2013 consensus is the result of four years of negociations. EuBP: What are the next steps regarding the implementation of the compromise in Switzerland? DT: The consensus is meant to be addressed business Biowaste bags with printed grid (Source: BASF) Daniel Trachsel, Managing Director, Association of Swiss Composting and Methanisation Plants to business. Therefore, no broad communication is planned. We are trying to convince the national legislation to adopt the core issues of the consensus into a planned national ordinance. Until now, the consensus bases only on a private agreement amongst the stakeholders. EuBP: Would it make sense to “export” your approach to other European countries? Are there discussions going into this direction? DT: We would strongly appreciate our consensus to be exported to the EU. Mainly the fact that products coming from the EU aren’t marked according to the consensus troubles severely the acceptance of the consensus in Switzerland. More information about the Swiss consensus is available online in German and French, English and Italian. The interview was previously published in the European Bioplastics Bulletin. USDA BioPreferred Labelling Programme continues The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced that BioPreferred ® Program will again be able to offer biobased product certification and labeling. They also reopened the web portal for companies to apply for the voluntary USDA Certified Biobased Product label. Thus far about 900 individual products have received the USDA Certified Biobased Product label. “A number of renewable intermediate chemicals are in the queue for approval or will be applying shortly for the label, including some biobased plasticizers”, according to BioPreferred program manager Ron Buckhalt. Due to the Farm Bill’s partial unfunded status, USDA’s voluntary certification and labeling program for renewable chemicals and biobased products came to a halt earlier this year. The USDA BioPreferred program has two major initiatives: (1) Product Labeling: USDA certifies and awards labels to qualifying products to increase consumer recognition of biobased products. (2) Federal Procurement Preference: USDA designates categories of biobased products that are afforded preference by Federal agencies when making purchasing decisions. bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/13] Vol. 8 7

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