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From Science & Research

From Science & Research they make and the influence these choices have on the available options. The materials suggested by the tool are only standard grades and were chosen for their distinctive properties. This means that optimisation of the material is possible using specific grades and additives. Material suppliers, compounders and producers can help designers with this next step. Quickscan: ecological and economical value The wish to apply biobased plastics often starts from an ecological viewpoint. Designers and marketers often want to know whether the envisioned product, when using biobased plastics, will indeed have less environmental impact than alternatives. Conducting a full Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is the way to go, but that takes a considerable amount of time and money. Furthermore current databases only contain the data of a very limited number of biobased plastics. Designers and marketers also want to know what other advantages the application of biobased plastics may give, such as lower life cycle costs, which can be the case with biodegradable plastics or when the material has special characteristics. Together with Partners for Innovation, a Dutch consultancy on sustainable innovation, a quickscan was developed that assists designers in comparing the new design using biobased plastics with an alternative design. This quickscan contains preliminary data of 10 biobased plastics alternatives, based both on the eco-costs model and on extrapolation of data. Because the designer needs just to fill in the information that deviates from the original design the scan takes only a short time. The quickscan also provides a comparison between the life cycle costs of the biobased design and its alternative. It also assists designers in assessing other advantages of biobased plastics. The first full version of the quickscan is currently being evaluated and will be issued in 2015. Look and feel of biobased plastics In some cases it is desirable to make clear that a product is made of biobased plastics. Not by a logo on the product or notification on the packaging, but by the look and feel of the product itself. This is especially relevant when the product is biodegradable or when sustainability is an important element of the company’s mission. What design rules can material and product designers use to make sure that their product positively communicates that it is made of a biobased plastic? To develop these design rules an evaluation was made of the way that people perceive biobased plastics in comparison with petrochemical plastics. The team conducted a study in which respondents were asked to assess 10 (nondisposable) cups, either made of petrochemical or biobased plastics. All five senses - look, feel, taste, smell and sound - were tested individually. Design rules that were derived from this study are for example: A biobased plastic cup … • has a smooth and soft feel. • sounds thick, solid and heavy. • shows a grain, fibre or uneven structure. Of course these design rules are applicable for cups only and have yet to prove their effectiveness. Applicability of the design rules for other product types is subject of further research. Further research and actions These practical tools will help designers to choose in favour of biobased plastics more often. The Amsterdam University of Applied Science intends to extend the research with exploring how natural filling materials can make biobased plastics more attractive and cheaper. Of course other steps have to be taken too. Material producers for example can help in providing complete and accurate data on the material properties and origin. Plastic processors can be more open for questions and testing, especially with new biobased plastics. And finally, product manufacturers can help the uptake of biobased plastics by using, for example, their marketing budgets to cover the temporarily higher prices of material and processing. By: Inge Oskam Professor Technical Innovation & Entrepreneurship Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences Amsterdam, The Netherlands 34 bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/14] Vol. 9

Polylactic Acid Uhde Inventa-Fischer has expanded its product portfolio to include the innovative stateof-the-art PLAneo ® process. The feedstock for our PLA process is lactic acid, which can be produced from local agricultural products containing starch or sugar. The application range of PLA is similar to that of polymers based on fossil resources as its physical properties can be tailored to meet packaging, textile and other requirements. Think. Invest. Earn. Uhde Inventa-Fischer GmbH Holzhauser Strasse 157–159 13509 Berlin Germany Tel. +49 30 43 567 5 Fax +49 30 43 567 699 Uhde Inventa-Fischer AG Via Innovativa 31 7013 Domat/Ems Switzerland Tel. +41 81 632 63 11 Fax +41 81 632 74 03 marketing@uhde-inventa-fi www.uhde-inventa-fi Uhde Inventa-Fischer

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