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Issue 01/2018

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bioplasticsMAGAZINE_1801

Thailand Making epoxy

Thailand Making epoxy resins sustainable Driving Innovation in Asian Biomaterials with Biobased Epichlorohydrin By: Prakit Sangthonganotai Epicerol Growth Project Manager Advanced Biochemical Map Ta Phut, Thailand ABT’s bio-based ECH is already used in lens monomers Asia is often cited as one of the key regions driving innovation in biobased and compostable plastics, yet paradoxically it also seems widely acknowledged that industry here prioritises price at the expense of sustainability when developing the region’s biomaterials. So which one of these standpoints is true and what is really happening with the development of renewable plastics in Asia? Several Asian industry leaders are committed to sustainable development of more sustainable supply chains. In Thailand, the large agricultural base which can be used as feedstock for biobased plastics offers an enormous advantage in comparison to other regions. Companies such as Advanced Biochemical (Thailand) and its peers are demonstrating how the biobased industries can lead the way for globally responsible biomaterials which are competitive yet encourage more sustainable production. The Epicerol ® Growth Project is a prime example of this kind of innovation in biobased materials. Growth with Biobased Epichlorohydrin ECH (epichlorohydrin) is mainly used to produce epoxy resins for coatings, composite materials and electronic components. Epicerol is an award-winning 100 % biobased drop-in for traditional epichlorohydrin produced by Advanced Biochemical (Thailand), more commonly known as ABT. The company has launched its Epicerol Growth Project to promote the value proposition of biobased ECH in markets where customers can capitalise on the true value of renewable materials. The project is currently focused on BPA (bisphenol A) substitution technologies which could react with Epicerol to enable epoxy resins with higher biobased content for a range of applications. A particular area of interest is biobased phenolics to create 100 % biobased epoxy resins for coatings in food and beverage packaging as well as biobased composite materials for sporting equipment, aeronautics and the automotive industry. ABT is pursuing partnership opportunities with visionary companies interested in developing such cutting-edge biomaterials. The author and his team in Thailand proactively support the development of green chemistry around the world. They offer the chance to evaluate their product for R&D in academic and industrial study of biobased ECH. Reducing Plastic’s Carbon Footprint As a drop-in, Epicerol can be used in all existing applications for traditional ECH without impacting quality or performance. It is based on 100 % vegetable glycerol which is an existing by-product of other processes such as oleochemical or biodiesel production. This circularity allows ABT to produce a chemical intermediate and generate value using raw materials which otherwise would have gone to waste. “Our biobased ECH is the most sustainable in terms of carbon emissions and the environmental performance of the process. This has been demonstrated by life cycle analysis. Incorporating 1 tonne of Epicerol can reduce a product’s carbon footprint by 2.56 tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent, compared to traditional ECH,” says Pan-usa Kongmunwattana, Marketing Manager at ABT. “The sustainability of glycerol as a feedstock was validated when ABT became the first biochemical producer in Asia to be certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB). This clearly demonstrates that ABT is delivering a socially and environmentally ethical biochemical.” Epicerol first became commercially available in 2012 with the launch of the Advanced Biochemical (Thailand) Co., Ltd (ABT) plant, in Map Ta Phut, Thailand. The plant has a capacity of 100,000 tonnes per year and is the largest of its kind in the world. Shifting Towards a More Circular Economy Using Epicerol, AkzoNobel and Ernst & Young launched the pilot of a new online tool in 2017 which can track the use of biobased raw materials in products. AkzoNobel has progressively increased the use of epoxy resins derived from Epicerol since 2013 to reduce its environmental footprint and this tool will help verify how much of a resin is 40 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/18] Vol. 13

Report The ABT Plant at Map Ta Phut, Thailand made from biobased raw materials. This makes it easier for producers to choose more sustainable materials. “This tool will increase transparency and encourage companies to use more sustainable raw materials,” says Pawin Boonyaporn, Epicerol Market Development Manager at ABT. “Users can demonstrate positive impact by monitoring their consumption of biobased ECH and show that they are using the most sustainable epichlorohydrin on the market. “The project is looking to expand to different biobased building blocks or solvents used in coatings and will continue to explore the same chemicals but for other value chains. The system is intended to provide sufficient flexibility so that it can be used by industry across a wide range of products. We believe it provides a robust and reliable answer to certification for biobased content, enabling transparency and reliability across the value chain by means of a robust audit trail.” A comparative Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) on Epicerol and propylenebased ECH confirms the environmental benefits) Moving Forward Thailand has traditionally been a food producing country but for material demand, it is a production hub for several multinational companies including Western and Japanese players who are committed to sustainable development and are great candidates for sustainable supply chain partnerships. In February 2017, ABT became a member of AGC Group through the acquisition of a major equity stake of Vinythai Public Company Limited (VNT), its mother company, by AGC Asahi Glass. The author hopes that Asia continues to drive towards more sustainable development of plastics. By developing exciting new biobased materials for the global production of consumer goods, ABT will continue to valorise its 100 % biobased ECH for resins and new applications. For further information on the project or partnership opportunities, interested readers can contact epicerolcontact@agc.com www.vinythai.co.th - 34% due to carbon capture by plants (biogenic CO 2 ) -61% in GWP PROPYLENE-BASED EPICHLOROHYDRIN EPICEROL - 27% due to lower greenhouse gas emissions Incorporating 1 tonne of Epicerol instead of propylene-based ECH reduces your product’s carbon footprint by 2.56 tonnes CO 2 equivalent bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/18] Vol. 13 41

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