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issue 02/2021

  • Text
  • Balance
  • Moulding
  • Carbon
  • Recycling
  • Plastics
  • Sustainable
  • Products
  • Renewable
  • Biobased
  • Packaging
  • Materials
  • Bioplastics
Highlights: Injection Moulding Basics: Mass Balance

Applications Pioneers in

Applications Pioneers in green pants Not just sustainable but better performance The German outdoor manufacturer VAUDE is “going off the beaten track” with its latest pair of trekking pants made of Evonik’s polyamide fibre – VESTAMID ® Terra. Synthetic fibres are ubiquitous in our clothing, whether they are called elastane, polyester, or polyacrylic. And synthetic fibres almost always mean petroleum. This is especially true for that sub-sector of the industry to which Vaude also belongs – the outdoor industry. After all, the outdoor industry is particularly dependent on textiles fulfilling certain outstanding functions: they have to be elastic, not tear, and, if possible, be water-repellent. Until now, the answer to this requirement profile used to be petroleum-based plastics. But the outdoor professional based at the foot of the Alps on the shores of Lake Constance in Southern Germany is already on its way into the postfossil age. “We want to move away from petroleum,“ says Benedikt Tröster from Vaude. “Toward renewable or recycled raw materials.“ By winter 2021, half of Vaude‘s new collection should be made from such materials. Currently, it is already one-third. After an extensive search for suitable sustainable plastics, Vaude landed at Evonik: “That‘s unusual for our industry. We approached a chemical company directly, not a fabric manufacturer,“ says René Bethmann, Innovation Manager Materials and Manufacturing at Vaude. Evonik developed Vestamid Terra more than ten years ago, a plastic that can be produced entirely from castor oil. The resulting material, Vestamid Terra, turned out to have outstanding properties for textiles and can also be spun into filaments. “The result is a fibre that is very comfortable to wear, has good water management properties, can be dyed well at low temperatures, and also contributes to CO 2 savings,“ says Uwe Kannengießer, Director of Optics & Filaments in the High-Performance Polymers Business Unit at Evonik. The first test phase revealed that Vestamid Terra is not only more sustainable but also has better properties compared to conventional polyamide fabrics. Above all, the yarn‘s lower moisture absorption is attractive for outdoor clothing, where a pair of pants should be ready for forays in damp grass or against short rain showers – and it is also an advantage if they dry faster after getting wet and after washing. “Vestamid Terra is actually a completely new material in our industry,“ Bethmann emphasizes, “Which is not at all common.“ Vestamid Terra turned out to be a particularly useful material because it can be easily processed by the spinning mill. Vaude finally decided on a variant that consists of 62 % castor oil and the remaining part of conventional raw material: “This new type of material has thus become part of a family that until now has mainly included petroleumbased polyamides for textile fibres, such as the classic polyamide 6 or 6.6,“ says Bethmann. But at the same time, it offers higher abrasion resistance, better tear strength and more elastic elongation. “We‘re talking here about long-chain polyamides, such as those traditionally used for sports shirts, for example,“ adds Evonik‘s Kannengießer: “It‘s actually very similar to polyamide 6.6.“ On top of that, Vestamid Terra dyeability at low temperatures adds to the CO2 savings. Another advantage at play here is that the entire value chain is located in one region, cutting down transportation costs, and emissions. Evonik produces Vestamid Terra in China, where the plant itself also grows. Spinning and textile production are located in Taiwan. “Taiwan has a great deal of expertise in technical textiles,“ emphasizes Bethmann. If it were up to Bethmann, other competitors would be welcome to adopt Vaude‘s idea in the future: “After all, we‘re only a medium-sized company, so it helps both awareness and production if other large companies also use Vestamid Terra.“ Vaude is self-confident enough to still stand out enough in this case – with its own brand, ideas, and products. “We‘ve proven how innovative we are and that we take pioneering spirit seriously by starting this project together with Evonik,“ says Bethmann. Anyone who sets out into nature soon in a pair of Skarvan Biobased Pants (to be launched in spring 2021) can justifiably claim that their pants are green – regardless of the colour. AT www.evonik.de | www.vaude.com Pictures: Vaude) 32 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/21] Vol. 16

Frustration fuelled innovation Innovation can come from various places and sometimes it’s as simple as the question “This should be a thing, why is it not a thing?” This is exactly what Rachel Domb, a second-year psychology student at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts (USA) asked. Rachel has been a plant-based athlete since she was 14, and athletes, especially in their teenage years, need a lot of fuel. “I was relying a lot on energy bars and just really anything I could get my hands on, but I also cared about the environment,” explained Rachel in an interview with bioplastics MAGAZINE. Back then Rachel already knew that plastics could be bad for the environment, even if she didn’t know exactly why yet, but she started feeling uncomfortable contributing to the production of waste – just by buying a snack. “Everybody snacks which leads to so much waste produced just from that. So I started making my own snacks, just for me in the beginning – one of them was the granola.” That changed when she started going to college, she was shocked that in a world with such innovation there seemed to be no sustainable packaging options for snacks. “I could make my own snacks forever, but that’s not solving the problem. And there is a clear problem here, and I can’t be the only one who’s frustrated by it.” Out of that frustration grew a business idea – Rooted Living. It took a lot of research and work to get from the idea to the product, with the support of many Northeastern institutions. But frustration, as it turns out, can be a powerful motivator and athletes are not known for giving up easily. Rachel considered a lot of materials before finally landing on a biodegradable material made by the Irish company Foxpak. Initially, Foxpak is going to produce compostable printed prototype packagings for Rachel’s two kinds of Granola, Maple Almond 190g and Peanut Butter Crunch 190g. The material is Foxpak’s high barrier compostable material which is a triple layer laminate where each layer is individually certified to the EN13432 standard for the composting of packaging (home and industrial). The three layers are a mix of organic (97%) and inorganic (3%) materials sourced from two suppliers. The main biobased material is ethically sourced wood pulp but also includes corn and sugarcane. The inorganic material is aluminium which will degrade to form aluminium oxide which is non-toxic and naturally present in soil. When talking about biodegradable packaging shelf-life is always a topic. “The recommendation for the material is to be used within 12 months from manufacture based on optimum storage conditions. As many of the factors that affect barrier properties and shelf life vary by situation, we always recommend customers to conduct their own shelflife testing,” said Sam Murphy, Marketing Manager at Foxpak. However, composting, be it industrial or home composting ,is not always available to people depending on their location, an issue Rachel is very aware of. “I didn’t want the mark that my company left on this planet to be waste,” she said when asked about how realistic composting as an end-of-life solution really is. “I am aware of the challenges, but I don’t just see this as a business, I see it as being part of a movement for more sustainability.” This is why her commitment goes beyond just selling her product in sustainable packaging. Moving forward Rachel plans to promote compostable solutions, even more, working towards more access to compost bins in Boston, Massachusetts, trying to own her home as she would phrase it, by getting awareness for compostable alternatives and helping to educate the general public. “Education is really powerful when it comes to sustainability, nobody is going to do anything unless they know why, unless they feel empowered.” Once her business stands on more solid ground she plans to put up wellresearched educational material on her Instagram (@rootedliving) to be a force that empowers consumers to make more sustainable decisions. Yet knowledge is only one part of living more sustainable, another one is costs which is why Rachel is trying to make her product as affordable as possible, “sustainability should not only be accessible for those who already have a good income, it should be accessible for everybody. This is why I will try to make it even more affordable moving forward.” Rachel is still at the beginning of her journey and for the coming year she will focus on running her company, but she is a shining example of being the change you want to see – the world could use more of that. AT www.foxpak.com | www.instagram.com/rootedliving Applications bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/21] Vol. 16 33

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