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Issue 03/2019

Highlights: Toys Injection Moulding Basics: Microplastics Mind the right terms Captured CO2

Materials Pack it in

Materials Pack it in feathers pluumo – The world’s first feather-based, sustainable packaging material Thousands of tonnes of waste feathers are generated every day by the global poultry industry. The average amount of meat consumed per person globally has more than doubled in the past 50 years, e.g. from 23 kg in the 1960s to 69 kg in 2016 in the European Union [1]. This has a massive impact not only on anthropogenic GHG emissions, but also continues to create a huge amount of waste. In the EU alone, over 20 million tonnes of animal-byproducts (ABP) are produced annually and over 3.1 million tonnes of this material are feathers from poultry production. Feathers protect birds from adverse weather conditions and are inherently biodegradable in their nature. Honing in on these two properties; the team of AEROPOWDER (London, UK) has conducted comprehensive manufacturing testing in order to harness the beneficial assets of feathers and create a high-performance feather-based material. Other early-stage product ideas included water-proof coatings and composite materials. After several years of development, the team just launched a sustainable textile named pluumo, designed to be a highly effective insulation material. The material comes in the form of sheets and batts and is applicable in a variety of sectors, such as building, automotive and furniture. However, the initial focus is on packaging, using the novel textile as a featherbased thermal insulator for chilled shipments. pluumo is composed of feathers making it lightweight. Additionally, its packaging film is fully compostable, and it also adheres to strict environmental standards. The film is supplied by biofilm expert Nuova Erreplast in Italy, which conventionally produce flexible packaging. A pivotal role in the company policy is played by the search for new technologies and sustainable packaging solutions, aiming at having a low impact on the environment: one of the reasons why Nuova Erreplast embraced the pluumo project. Elena Dieckmann (CTO, Aeropowder) states: “The current discourse about the environmental impact of packaging is huge, and rightly so. We thought we could create a circular packaging product that is eco-friendly, waste-derived and high performance. Feathers can replace synthetic insulators, such as polyethylene foams or polystyrene (EPS) without loss of performance. In the booming industry that is online food delivery, this means that for every standard sized packaged being sent to a customer, around 400g of EPS packaging are avoided.” In order to create a fully compostable product, Aeropowder connected with Trevira (Bobingen, Germany), an innovative European manufacturer of high-value branded fibres and filament yarns. Trevira provided a solution in form of innovative, fully biodegradable binding fibres used to fuse the feather fibres together. These recyclable binding fibres are bicomponent fibres consisting of the biopolymers polylactic acid (PLA) and polybutylene succinate (PBS). “Fibres made from biopolymers are a sustainable alternative to petroleum-based fibres and provide a basis for intelligent materials with added functions, for new applications and for niche products,” says Joerg Dahringer of Trevira. “They are as economical as they are efficient.” And Elena Dieckmann adds: “ For us, Trevira was the ideal partner – they are real pioneers of sustainability and have the technical expertise to create customized products.” Compostability test for the whole pluumo product are currently performed with accredited laboratories in Europe. In addition to biodegradability, pluumo must observe certain cold chain delivery requirements with regards to its insulative performance. Therefore, pluumo was tested extensively in collaboration with several research facilities in the UK. The product has been designed to outperform conventional EPS packaging (30 mm) by several hours. The secret to this impressive performance is down to the structure of feathers themselves. Feathers are made of keratin, an integral building block in nature. A unique feature of feather composition is their hollow microstructure traps air. Preventing movement of air is critical to preventing conductive heat transfer and thus tied directly to insulative performance. The team at Aeropowder have found a way to optimise the arrangement of feather fibres within the structure of pluumo, resulting in the material having a thermal conductivity 0.032 W/mk. Additionally, the strength of keratin means that pluumo retains its structural integrity after impact, providing additional cushioning protection for fragile items. pluumo’s specifications are also customisable in terms of height and density to meet a variety of demanding applications. Currently, Aeropowder is supplying pluumo Europe-wide, but its potential is wide-reaching. Wherever poultry found, pluumo and other innovative sustainable materials can be can be manufactured. MT [1]: OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2017-2026; 46 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/19] Vol. 14

Materials Novel biobased barrier films According to recent forecasts by European Bioplastics and nova Institute, global production of biopolymers will increase from about 2.05 million tonnes in 2017 to 2.44 million tonnes in 2022. The trend towards biobased and biodegradable plastics was induced mainly by the global waste problem and increasing environmental regulations for the industry. Consumers’ growing environmental awareness also has a beneficial effect for the bioplastics sector. Furthermore, certain bioplastics offer technical advantages. Due to its unique barrier properties towards oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide, polylactide (PLA), for example, is already being successfully applied in the packaging industry - the largest field of application for biopolymers. This is where the Bio-Barrier Films (BioBaFol) project ties in, which was launched as part of the support programme for Renewable Resources by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). The project partners, SKZ, Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research, Tecnaro, JenCAPS Technology and Südpack Packaging (all from Germany) are jointly developing PLA-based films with special barrier properties for the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. An inorganic-organic functional layer integrated in these films is intended to improve the films’ barrier effect in comparison to conventional multilayer films. Such hybrid polymers are already being used in numerous fields of application, such as photoand electrochromic, scratch- and abrasion-resistant or antistatic coatings. These excellent barrier properties are now being evaluated for use in food packaging and flexible encapsulation of optoelectronic applications. Conventional barrier films are mainly covered by laminated composites. These usually consist of duplex sheets wherein two different films are bonded together by coextrusion. Application-specific polyolefins are added In the framework of the Bio-Barrier Films (BioBaFol) project, the SKZ and several project partners are jointly developing PLA-based films with special barrier properties for food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. as sealing media. These laminated composites currently cannot be broken down into their individual components, and thus cannot be recycled. “The use of a hybrid polymer layer on a PLA carrier material is now intended to facilitate the recycling process,” explained SKZ scientist Alexander Rusam. “During renewed film extrusion, this layer can be incorporated in the polymer matrix and can thus serve both as a nucleating agent for crystallization and as an additional barrier filler material. It is therefore not necessary to separate the barrier layer from the PLA carrier material, and recycling will thus be possible in the future. “ Besides feasibility, by the end of the project period, in mid 2021, a scale-up at pilot-scale is also aimed at. MT Magnetic for Plastics • International Trade in Raw Materials, Machinery & Products Free of Charge. • Daily News from the Industrial Sector and the Plastics Markets. • Current Market Prices for Plastics. • Buyer’s Guide for Plastics & Additives, Machinery & Equipment, Subcontractors and Services. • Job Market for Specialists and Executive Staff in the Plastics Industry. Up-to-date • Fast • Professional bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/19] Vol. 14 47

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