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Issue 02/2020

  • Text
  • Use
  • Horticulture
  • Agriculture
  • Thermoforming
  • Packaging
  • Films
  • Biobased
  • Biodegradable
  • Products
  • Plastics
  • Materials
  • Packaging
  • Bioplastics
Highlights: Agri-/Horticulture Thermoforming Rigid Packaging Basics Land use (update)

Agriculture/Horticulture

Agriculture/Horticulture New mulching film A new milestone for organic farming and soil protection. Novamont’s MATER-BI bioplastic, which is used for the production of soil-biodegradable mulching films in compliance with European standard EN17033, has been certified to comply with the “AIAB Technical Means” specification, which aims to guarantee all farmers and professional users products that are compatible with the environment and meet technical and ethical sustainability requirements, in addition to complying with current regulations on technical means eligible for organic farming. Moreover, through intensive work, Novamont, the AIAB (Italian Organic Farming Association) and Bioagricert (the control and certification body for organic production) have developed a specific standard that requires mulching films for organic farming to have the maximum content of renewable raw materials derived from natural renewable NON-GMO sources (the material and the film must not contain traces of recombinant DNA and the raw materials must be identified by appropriate NON-GMO attestations) and to guarantee total biodegradability in soil, in compliance with European reference standard EN17033, which involves a check on relevant aspects of use and end-of-life and the absence of toxic effects on the environment. Being capable of use under different environmental conditions and on crops having different cycles with excellent agricultural results, because of its biodegradability in soil Mater-Bi film does not need to be recovered and disposed of at the end of the cultivation cycle, but can be left in the soil where it is biodegraded by microorganisms, thus helping to reduce plastic waste production and preserve the soil from pollution by plastics. Approximately 85,000 tonnes of plastic mulching film are used in Europe every year, a total surface area of 460,000 hectares. Conventional (non-biodegradable) plastic mulching films have to be removed from fields at the end of the crop cycle, and are often contaminated with crop wastes which can increase their weight by 65 % in comparison with fresh film. When the film is removed, earth and organic matter (SOM) present in the soil are removed too. Estimating that a percentage of 1.2 % of organic material is removed by doing this every year, this amounts to 1800 tonnes of SOM being removed every year. Choosing to use biodegradable agricultural films means counteracting soil degradation, avoiding contamination with plastics. “Soils are an increasingly fragile non-renewable resource threatened by unsustainable management, pollution and progressive desertification. To counteract this, Novamont research has always worked to develop products which help to preserve the fertility and functioning of soil,” says Catia Bastioli, Novamont’s CEO. AIAB-certified Mater-Bi mulching film, which can be processed using most of the extrusion machines in common use, has been available since December 2019 and was officially showcased at BIOFACH 2020, the largest organic exhibition in the world last February in Nuremberg, Germany. A workshop “The use of bioplastics in organic farming” was held during BIOFACH. In the course of this, Sara Guerrini, Novamont’s Agricultural Public Affairs spokeswoman, gave a presentation on the subject of biodegradable and compostable films in organic farming, from mulching to packaging. Also presented at the workshop were the results of the EU MYPACK project, the aim of which has been to identify packaging solutions and innovative materials to reduce environmental impacts, increase shelf life and find ways of promoting the wider use of these innovative solutions. Finally, Mater-Bi films, which are certified to be biodegradable in soil, can be regarded as a means of fulfilling the sustainable development objectives (OOS/ SDGs - Sustainable Development Goals) outlined by the United Nations for the country, the environment and society when used in cultivation. MT www.novamont.com principle picture 20 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/20] Vol. 15

Agriculture/Horticulture Compostable and edible barrier packaging Primitives is a San Francisco (California, USA) based biomaterials company founded in 2019. They engineer thin films with remarkable properties, to be used in packaging and other applications. The films sense and respond to the environment, enabling brands to monitor quality, improve safety, and reduce the environmental footprint of their products. Conventional thin flexible films often contain over five layers of plastic making them hard to recycle. Primitives has engineered high performance multi-layered films that are compostable, safe, and even edible. These films are made from renewable materials like algae and other bio-based feedstocks. The films are based on a toolkit of biomaterials with sensing and display properties. CEO Viirj Kan and team developed this core technology at MIT (Boston, Massachussetts, USA). These functional films can be integrated into applications across industries. For example, supplement packaging that changes colour when it’s been tampered with or punctured. Insulin labels that respond to extreme temperature, telling you it’s no longer safe to use. Milk that tells you it’s gone bad, without having to smell or taste it. Primitives films demonstrate an oxygen barrier that outperforms petroleum-based LDPE by a factor of more than 4, as well as bioplastic films like PLA. The films also block 98 % of harmful UVB rays, comparable to wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 30. Plastic ban regulations are getting increasingly explicit about how fast packaging needs to degrade. The film layers degrade faster than other bioplastic alternatives, such as PLA, and are compostable within 10, 20, or 30 days. They exhibit tunable degradation ranging from 20 % to 70 % mass loss over 3 weeks. Primitives films also display colours that span the entire visible spectrum. They are optically transparent and can be digitally printed on. They have seen promising results from a Mayer rod test, an industry standard to assess the compatibility of films with extrusion-based manufacturing processes. Primitives is going to market with a home compostable, oxygen-proof film, for use in premium cannabis packaging. This high margin industry has a growing demand for new packaging innovations due to regulatory requirements. Next, Primitives will offer functionalities to improve product freshness and safety, and later provide sensing properties for environmental monitoring. The company is also working on incorporating agricultural waste-based feedstocks which farmers currently pay to dispose of, allowing them to further take advantage of methane reduction subsidies. As cost is a challenge for the bioplastics industry, Primitives has a plan to ensure they can scale to produce affordable films. They have patent pending proprietary compositions for producing films with functional and stimuli-responsive properties. While many of their projects are still in the developmental phase Primitives is definitely a company to look out for as they have a future orientated vision for bioplastics. To finish with Viirj Kan’s words, “we want to create a world where the materials around us are intelligently engineered and don’t overstay their welcome.” AT https://primitives.io/ bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/20] Vol. 15 21

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