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Issue 01/2014

  • Text
  • Bioplastics
  • Plastics
  • Biobased
  • Materials
  • Recycling
  • Products
  • Biodegradable
  • Germany
  • Carbon
  • Automotive
Highlights: Automotive Foam Pharmafilter Land use

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Report active carbon step is carried out to filter out any toxic residue. We buffer the water, subject it to UV light and then reuse it,” says Van den Berg. “It’s a closed loop. It’s led to the hospital using 70% less drinking water.” He added: “Actually, this water is cleaner than drinking water – the amount of microcontaminants it contains is under the detection limit. Our process eliminates residual pharmaceuticals far better than the water purification plants do. However, it can’t be used as drinking water due to legal restrictions. It may be used as process water, though, and in the new building, the infrastructure is being put in place, so that there it will be used for everything except drinking purposes.” In fact, at the current Delft facility, the purified water is used to fill a fish aquarium, in which numerous goldfish are happily swimming around. Once a month, a fish is caught and thoroughly examined for any sign of problems.. Biopolymers hold the future A key element in the Pharmafilter concept is the replacement of the use of conventional hospital supplies by products made of biopolymers, as, next to providing a “green” alternative to conventional materials, these will serve to increase the amount of digestible organic matter, allowing the installation to produce more biogas and become a truly closed-loop system. According to Van den Berg, the hospitals are ready to embrace the use of biopolymers. Already, a list of over 200 products eligible for replacement by bioplastic alternatives has been compiled, opening up exciting possibilities for a host of new bioplastic applications. It will take time, however. Pharmafilter is investigating the possibilities of developing the new products itself, as manufacturers are generally reluctant to invest in unproven products with uncertain volumes. Van den Berg: “It’s a chicken and the egg situation. So we are currently experimenting with different blends of PHA and PLA to develop these products ourselves. What’s important is their digestibility. PLA is not anaerobically degradable, although in a blend, in a certain proportion, we have found that with the Pharmafilter patented system the bacteria will handle these blends.” and how this is achieved is Pharmafilters proprietary knowledge.” Already, PHA and starch-based bioplastics have been shown to be easily digestible in the digester. “Traditional metal bedpans have already been replaced by the bioplastic Olla, made of PHA,” noted Van den Berg. “It was designed for patient comfort, comes with an airtight lid and fits easily into the Tonto.” Prior to the introduction of the disposable bedpans, it was not uncommon for the (used) bedpans to pile up in the bedpan washer station because they could not be cleaned fast enough. “Imagine the smell,” he added. Other products include catheters, urinals and urine collection bags, with many others, such as serviceware, containers and trash bags, due to be introduced in the near future. But: “What we’re really looking forward to is the development of bioplastic incontinence material and diapers,” said Van den Berg. “It’s already a disposable. The volumes are huge. It’s a perfect product for us.” 32 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/14] Vol. 9

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