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Issue 03/2017

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10 Published in bioplastics MAGAZINE News Years ago Generation of a new Biopolymer Database photo: Instron D SEM-photo of a bioplastics surface, affected by micro organisms (photo: FH Hannover) uring the last 10-15 years a lot of different biopolymers were introduced to the market. Unfortunately, only very little qualified information about these materials in terms of mechanical or thermal properties, permeability, degradation or processing behaviour is available to the decision makers in the industry. Even though there has been remarkable research effort in the past, the results seem not to be accessible in a structured and well organised form. “Also the quality of the available information is doubtful, many files are out of date or incomplete. Interested users need to spend too much time searching for qualified material data and very often will not find answers to their questions” as Professor Hans-Josef Endres, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hannover, Germany (Department of Bio-Process Engineering), points out. In order to improve the situation, the faculty started to create a Biopolymer Database which contains a full overview of the market. The guideline is the well known CAMPUS ® database, which has become the international standard information system for conventional Engineering Polymers. “The new Biopolymer Database will allow quick and easy access to information about biopolymer producers, contact persons and material properties, like mechanical properties, permeability, degradation or processing behaviour,” says Dipl.-Ing. Andrea Siebert, research engineer at the same faculty. The main goal of the project is to collect complete information about available biopolymers, using uniform standards and to generate comparable and complete material data. The result will be a database, which is compatible with the internationally accepted CAMPUS system and will be accessible through the internet. The project, that started at the end of 2006 is supported by the German Government (Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, coordinated by the Agency of Renewable Resources - FNR). Project participants are M-Base Engineering + Software from Aachen, Germany and European Bioplastics, Berlin. Dipl.-Ing. Andrea Siebert: “It is important to point out, that during this project, in contrast to old and recently published studies, only all the latest materials, which are really available on the market will be considered. In close cooperation with the biopolymer producers crucial processing, utilisation and disposal material data will be generated in a complete new test program organised and conducted by the project team.” For questions, suggestions or potential cooperation contact In May 2017, Hans-Josef Endres (Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites IfBB) at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hannover, Germany) says: Increasing demand for bioplastics also means increasing demand for information regarding material properties. The aim of the database project described in the 2007 article was the characterisation of the bioplastics to close the still very large information gaps at that time. The material properties of the bioplastics were determined for the first time according to standardized methods in a comprehensive and comparable way. In addition, the bioplastic producers who were then still coming from the agricultural sector were sensitized about the need to provide the material data. These efforts, at the time pioneering for bioplastics, contributed to the fact that that the quality and quantity of bioplastics material data is much better today. In addition, almost every bioplastics manufacturer is aware today that comprehensive material data are indispensable for the market penetration of their materials. Today, the material data of the bioplastics considered 10 years ago as well as new bioplastics are, apart from the petrochemical polymer materials, an integral component of the Material Data Center of M-Base. photo: FH Hannover 12 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/07] Vol. 2 42 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/17] Vol. 12

Report By: Bioplastics Survey Michael Thielen and John Leung Within our series “special focus on certain geographical areas” we present simple surveys, to get an idea about the general perception of bioplastics in these countries. In this third edition of this new series, we visited a lively shopping area in Beijing, China and asked again a (nonrepresentative) number of normal people”. This, however, was not an easy attempt. After interviewing a few people, police arrived at the scene. They informed us, that we need to apply for a formal permit before we can conduct any survey. We then called the China Bioplastics Union for support. After three hours discussion, we finally convinced them that we could continue the survey. However, a police officer was present during the rest of the survey. We are grateful for this support. In fact, before the police came, just two out nine people were willing to respond. But with the police next to us, it was 28 out of 30 we approached. Now to the results. Of course The People’s Republic of China is a huge country so this survey, as all others before can only be a very small glimpse and is far from representative. We asked people in a shopping area in Beijing so the results may be very different in rural areas. Of those we interviewed, 50 % were male and 50 % were female. And also half were aged between 20 and 40, while the other half were between the ages of 40 and 60. When asked whether they knew what bioplastics were, around 12.5 % responded with yes. Again the other 87.5% all indicated that they were interested in learning about what bioplastics were. We briefly explained that conventional plastics were made from oil, a scarce and depletable resource … that burning petroleum-based products would affect climate … that biobased plastics can be made from renewable resources or waste streams, such as corn, sugar beet, sugar cane or e.g. waste starch from the potato industry … and that biodegradable/compostable plastics (whether biobased or otherwise) can offer significant benefits, depending on the application. After this brief explanation, all of those interviewed expressed the opinion that bioplastics were beneficial for the environment and for the climate, or at least “less bad”, as one young man was at pains to point out. Asked whether they would buy products made of bioplastics, if they should happen to see them on display at the store, all commited that they would. 65.3 % reported that they would be willing to pay more for such products, with most responding: “a little more, yes”, or “but not twice as much”… 6.35 % were undecisive. In sum, not many consumers know about or are aware of bioplastics and their potential. However, the results of this survey reveal that given the knowledge and the chance, consumers – at least those we interviewed- would opt for products using bioplastics and even be willing to pay a small premium. This indicates an obvious need for comprehensive end consumer education. Consumer behavior can make a significant impact on the ways products affect the environment. Educating consumers about bioplastics offers a huge opportunity to promote these materials and to effect positive changes in the shopping choices people make. female 20-40 years 40-60 years Do you know what bioplastics are? Would you buy? Would you pay more? male YES 12,5% NO 87,5% YES 100% NO 0% YES 65,63% NO 28,13% 50% 53,6% 47,62% 46,4% 50% 52,38% 67% 25% 75% 33% 75% 25% 46,4% 53,6% 50% 50% 61,9% 38,1% 67% 33% bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/17] Vol. 12 43

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