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Issue 02/2019

  • Text
  • Bioplastics
  • Packaging
  • Biobased
  • Plastics
  • Products
  • Materials
  • Biodegradable
  • Sustainable
  • Renewable
  • Compostable
Highlights: Thermoforming Building & Construction Basics: Biobased Packaging

Applications Biobased

Applications Biobased reusable cutlery This year’s BIOFACH trade fair in Nuremberg, Germany saw the debut of the new, biobased and biodegradable reusable cutlery produced by Bremen, Germanyheadquartered company Bionatic. The products are made from a biobased compound that comprises up to 80% renewable raw materials. In February 2017, Bionatic and a professor in paper technology at Tech. Univ. Dresden launched a joint research project with as goal: the development of an innovative composite material based on renewable raw materials from which reusable and biodegradable products could be made. The project was funded by the Programm Zentrale Innovation Mittelstand (ZIM), which is managed by the German Federal Ministry for the Economy and Energy. “ZIM enables us to carry out this project and complete it successfully. We are very proud of the result and wish to thank all involved in the project,” said Robert Czichos, founder and CEO of Bionatic. The composite material developed comprises natural fiber and a blend of different bioplastics. “The natural fiber is a byproduct of cellulose industry which we use to reduce the amount of bioplastic in our reusable bio cutlery,” explains Frederik Feuerhahn, Development Manager at Bionatic. The sustainable alternative to disposable plastic cutlery With its reusable bio cutlery, Bionatic offers a sustainable alternative to conventional plastic cutlery, which will be banned in the EU from 2021. “Our research in this field began a long time ago, before the EU had even considered a ban on disposable plastic. For some time, Bionatic has offered sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives to petroleum based plastic packaging. Our new reusable bio cutlery is therefore a perfect addition to our range,” says Robert Czichos. Yet though the material is biodegradable, the main point stressed by the company is the fact that it is derived from renewably sourced raw materials. “Thus, the use of finite fossil resources is minimized and the wood powder reduces the amount of bioplastic needed,” says Dirk Brunne, Head of Corporate Communication at Bionatic. Due to the wall thicknesses, it is not exactly compostable. “But if it accidentally ends up in the environment, it will not disintegrate into persisting microplastic but completely degrade into CO 2 , water and biomass over time,” Dirk adds. “And in a thermal recycling process via waste-to-energy incineration it will burn carbon neutral and pollution-free”. While Bionatic has long operated as a distributor of sustainable food service packaging, the company is now also venturing for the first time into production and manufacturing the new cutlery itself. All production is in Germany, which enables the company to offer very high availability with very short transportation distances. “It’s really important to leave the lowest possible carbon footprint. Modern production facilities and short transportation distances help to keep emissions low,” says Czichos. CO 2 emissions produced by all the products are offset through an internationally recognised climate protection project in Kenya. This means that the whole range is climate neutral. MT www.bionatic.com 32 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/19] Vol. 14

Applications Arla’s wood-based beverage cartons Arla (Söderkulla, Finland) wants to provide consumers with new opportunities to choose more responsible products. This year, Arla has been the first company in Finland to use renewable wood-based bioplastics in gable top paperboard cartons for milk, yoghurt and cooking products.The tall oil-based raw material is a Finnish innovation by UPM. As a result of the revamp, more than 40 million Arla packages will become more environmentally-friendly in 2019 to reflect consumers’ wishes. Bioplastic is well suited to dairy product packaging as it has the same technical characteristics as the conventional plastic used in cartons. Like the old material, the new packaging can be recycled with cardboard. “When we have a liquid product such as milk, a thin plastic film is needed inside the carton for reasons of product safety and shelf life. In our new packaging, the source of plastic is now even more responsible because it is made of wood-based raw material,” says Arla’s Brand & Category Manager, Sanna Heikfolk. Wood-based bioplastic reduces carbon footprint UPM’s Lappeenranta (Finland) biorefinery utilises tall oil that is a residue of pulp production in the raw material for the new bioplastic cartons. The packaging is made by Elopak (headquartered in Oslo, Norway), and the Dow Chemical Company (headquarters in Midland, Michigan, USA) is also involved in the collaboration. The use of woodbased bioplastics in Arla’s gable top cartons reduces the need for fossil-based plastics by 180,000 kilogrammes per year while also reducing the packaging’s carbon footprint by about a fifth. Launching more environmentally-friendly packaging in the food industry and for consumers has been a shared goal of Arla, Elopak and UPM. Arla and Elopak have been working together in this field since 2014, and now was the time to take the next step in the packaging development process. “A conventional milk carton is usually about 85 % paperboard. We wanted to launch a type of packaging that would be 100 % wood-based and in which the plastic would also be wood based,” says Elopak’s Managing Director, Juha Oksanen. Finnish innovation from forest to table With Arla’s new packaging, UPM’s excellent woodbased innovation, UPM BioVerno naphtha, can be used in bioplastics for paperboard packaging. UPM’s innovation has the Key Flag Symbol to prove its Finnish origin. “We are very pleased to be working with a pioneer such as Arla, with whom we can further reduce the carbon footprint of paperboard packaging for liquids using our renewable raw material, and this applies to the whole chain, up to the consumer. Also, by using wood-based raw materials we are not competing for raw materials with the food production industry, because tall oil is a residue of pulp production,” says Sari Mannonen, Vice President at UPM Biofuels. Mass balance approach The Polyethylene used by Elopak for the Arla gable top paperboard cartons is only one biobased plastic product that can be made with UPM BioVerno naphtha. This biobased naphtha can be also used for production of other types of plastics such as polypropylene depending on the customer need. The application example in this article, as well as other cases published so far with Dow, Elopak and later with Arla “are all based on a mass balance approach,” as Maiju Helin, Senior Manager, Sustainability and Market Development of UPM told bioplastics MAGAZINE. “All naphtha used in polymer industry cannot yet be replaced by biobased alternatives due to limited supply. Therefore, mass balancing is needed to allow gradual transition from fossil to bioeconomy.” she added. A plastic product produced based on mass balance system means that the physical renewable content in product may be low, but a similar amount of renewable and sustainable feedstock has been used in the production. Each tonne of renewable naphtha replaces one tonne of fossil naphtha saving fossil resources and emissions. “In the polymer industry, intermediate products such as naphtha are supplied in bulk and all feedstock streams are mixed during the cracking process. Mass balance makes it possible to bring the benefits of sustainable renewable feedstock to end users. Simultaneously the known and safe physical properties of the end product are maintained,” as Maiju explained. MT www.arla.com | www.upmbiofuels.com bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/19] Vol. 14 33

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