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Issue 01/2019

  • Text
  • Renewable
  • Sustainable
  • Packaging
  • Biodegradable
  • Materials
  • Products
  • Plastics
  • Biobased
  • Bioplastics
Highlights: Automotive Foam Basics: Green public procurement Cover Story: PHB for food packaging

Foam A famous Chinese

Foam A famous Chinese entrepreneur once said: Even a pig can fly if it stands at the center of a storm. But the storm that bioplastics needed to take flight did not arrive in China, or, for that matter, elsewhere across the world until 2018. Although the engineers at Bioplus (Guangzhou, China) were keen to commercialise their application, they spent most of the past ten years in labs to further improve their bioplastic products. In 2018, the winds finally blew strongly enough to give these products lift-off. Guangzhou Bioplus Materials Technology Company, founded in 2009 and active in the modification and applications of biodegradable plastics, has the know-how to modify bioplastics for different applications. However, the company has opted to focus of the modification of PLA for foam sheet. Foamed plastics are widely used in the packaging industry and are among the top three waste materials polluting the globe. In China, several million tonnes of expanded polystyrene are produced and used every year, but, in many cases, cannot be recycled. Typical applications are food boxes, trays and protective product packaging. Today, about 200 million takeout food containers are generated and over 500 million plastic food utensils. Most food serviceware is made of expanded polystyrene, filmlaminated paper and polypropylene. The enormous pressure for environment protection has pushed the government and several major platforms for takeout food such as Meituan and Eleme to take action. This led to the decision in 2017 to use ecofriendly packaging materials to make serviceware. Different materials were tested, including straw, bagasse and starch/ plastics compounding, but to date, PLA foam has shown the best performance, safety and cost. Biobased and biodegradable, PLA’s low melt strength presents a challenge when it comes to producing foam sheet. Bioplus has spent the past ten years working towards the industrialization of PLA foam sheet for use in food serviceware, overcoming problems by: • improving the melt strength of PLA by factor 10 to 100 through chemical and physical modification • working with a machine supplier to design a new kind of extruder especially for PLA foaming • developing a process using as foaming agent butane or carbon dioxide • designing a thermoforming machine and grasping parameters for PLA sheet. Bioplus is still the only supplier of modified resin for foamed sheet as of yet, and possibly the best in the world. They can control the expansion rate of PLA foam sheet from 2 to 30 and sheet thickness from 1.5 to 5 mm. Food service products made from Bioplus foamed PLA are able to withstand boiling water. To date, two customers are using our modified resins to produce foamed food serviceware or packaging materials. More foaming machines are being manufactured for other customers. At least ten PLA foam sheet lines are expected to be installed and running in China in 2019. The PLA foam sheet production process and a number of thermoformed finished products are shown in the pictures below. Bioplus is now building a new plant to increase its annual production capacity to 10,000 tonnes of PLA resin for foam. The company is looking forward to working with partners all over the world to promote more foamed PLA products and to reinforce its contribution to protecting the environment. www.bio-plus.cm By: PLA foam sheet for tableware Steven Wu and Henter Lee Guangzhou Bioplus Materials Technology Guangzhou, China Process to make PLA foam sheet with Bioplus modified resin Tableware with PLA foam Packaging material with PLA foam TEM picture of PLA foam 36 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/19] Vol. 14

Cover Story on bioplastic, produced also from fruit and vegetable wastes. To accelerate the development of these solutions and quickly gain a leading position in this rapidly growing sector with a high demand for quality, Zeropack has acquired from Bio-on an exclusive license to exploit the technology for 10 million Euros. The technology is based on the research activities that Bioon researchers have been conducting for four years in this field of application in Italian and US. As it is known, the traditional plastics used today to package food products do not allow efficient recycling processes in many cases and often contain highly polluting components. PHB for food packaging of fruits and vegetables The demand for new eco-sustainable materials for packaging is constantly increasing and consumers reward the choices of producers and distributors that respect the planet. Bioon (Bologna, Italy), and Rivoira (Verzuolo, Italy), one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high quality fruit and always careful on innovation, announced in late December 2018 a strategic agreement to develop new materials for food packaging of fresh fruits and vegetables, even single use, with Zeropack S.p.A., a new company founded by Bio-on and of which Rivoira acquires 50 % of the shares. Zeropack will be able to produce films, crates, small and large containers, fruit supports and completely natural labels based “The investment (…) represents to us the entrance of a large company - explains Marco Astorri, President and CEO of Bioon - and we are particularly proud that a prestigious group like Rivoira, through Marco Rivoira and Gualtiero Rivoira, recognise the innovation and the potentiality of the new technologies developed by Bio-on in the field of food packaging. The basis of our bioplastic has all the qualities to revolutionize the world of food packaging through Zeropack. This is what people are asking for and we will do it together with Zeropack and the Rivoira group”. Moreover, thanks to the diversification of the Rivoira group, Zeropack will have the possibility to use Bio-on technology also in the mineral water field. The Rivoira group controls Fonti Alta Valle Po spa, owner of Acqua Eva, a young company with a very strong expansion in the national and international market. “We are happy to enter the world of packaging for the future - explains Marco Rivoira, Ceo Gruppo Rivoira - and in particular to contribute with our experience and daily production quality to the creation of completely different products compared to those we can find on the market today. Zeropack anticipates the strategies of the Rivoira Group, always looking for innovations. The mission is to provide total quality of both product and packaging. To study materials to revolutionize this sector, starting from nature and naturally, will allow the giants of distribution to have a 100 % sustainable alternative”. Thanks to the exclusive characteristics of its materials (PHAs or polyhydroxy-alkanoates and PHBs or poly-hydroxy-butyrates), Bio-on now extends its use to another of the most innovative and interesting field of application such as food-packaging. The researches in this field of application are based on PHBs. Rivoira completed the acquisition of 50 % of Zeropack S.p.A through RK Zero Srl with Carlo Lingua and Paolo Carissimo partners. Following the transaction, the share of Bio-on and RK zero is equal to 50 % each. This 10 million Euro agreement fully contributes to the 2018 Bio-on results and is part of the business plan presented in 2016. From 2019 Zeropack will present new patents and will begin various collaborations with distributors and producers worldwide. MT www.bio-on.it | www.zeropack.it | www.rivoira.it bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/19] Vol. 14 37

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