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issue 04/2021

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  • Toys
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  • Bioplastics
Highlights: Toys Thermoforming Basics: Bio-Polypropylene

Application News Watches

Application News Watches from ocean plastic The Swedish company TRIWA (Stockholm) introduced the world’s first collection of watches made completely from recycled ocean plastic. These watches are designed to be part of the solution, highlight the issue of ocean plastic pollution and become a statement for each customer’s wrist, a symbol for change. All plastic used in manufacturing these watches is ethically collected from oceans and shores, and, with the help of solar power, properly cleaned and recycled by their official partner, Tide Ocean Material. Together with social enterprise Tide Ocean (Basel, Switzerland) collects ocean-bound plastic in Southeast Asia, coordinated by their subsidiary in Ranong, Thailand. On five islands in the Andaman Sea, local fishermen are being trained and paid to gather and sort plastic waste. The material is registered, washed, and shredded in a social enterprise which is being implemented by the Swiss non-profit Jan & Oscar Foundation and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Different kinds of plastic are collected, such as PET, PP, or PE. With Swiss precision and know-how and powered by renewable energy, the plastic waste threatening our oceans is upcycled into a versatile granular raw material. The granular material is tested and produced in partnership with the Institute for Materials Technology and Plastics Processing (IWK), a branch of the University of Applied Sciences (Hochschule für Technik) in Rapperswil, Switzerland. Together, IWK and Tide have developed a method that regenerates the plastic and reverses the damage caused by the UV rays and salt water the plastic waste was exposed to while floating in the ocean or washed ashore.MT (Photo: TRIWA) | | Puma starts using I’m green EVA PUMA (Herzogenaurach, Germany), one of the world’s largest sporting goods manufacturers, is looking to increase its use of more sustainable materials in production, reducing the carbon footprint of its products as much as possible. Braskem (São Paulo, Brazil) is part of this strategy because with their I’m green TM EVA made of sugarcane, they provide Puma with an important raw material in the development of sustainable plastic elements in their products. The result is “Better Foam,” a Puma-developed midsole based on 35 % sugarcane-based I’m green EVA that will be used in footwear products starting this summer. It will start with the “Emerge” model, a training shoe that has been available since July 1st. The “Emerge” is part of Puma’s plans to use more sustainable materials in 9 out of 10 products by 2025. Braskem will be supporting PUMA with I’m green EVA – and for good reason. Their I’m green EVA is specifically suited for products like footwear and sporting goods: It delivers the same flexibility, lightness, and resistance as the usual plastics used, and offers a negative carbon footprint to boot. This is because the sugarcane used is both renewable and absorbs carbon as it grows. It’s another important step for Braskem into the sports world. Their plastic is receiving more and more attention in the sporting goods industry, allowing them to build many successful partnerships in this segment, just like the current one with Puma. AT | 34 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/21] Vol. 16

It depends where it ends How biodegradable plastics perform in the marine environment By: Christian Lott Co-director HYDRA Marine Sciences Bühl, Germany From Science & Research Miriam Weber from Hydra Marine Sciences is checking biodegradable plastic film samples exposed at 20 metres depth in the open water of Indonesia (Photo Hydra Marine Science) Biodegradable polymers and their applications are being widely and also controversially discussed across sectors but their behaviour in the open environment such as in soil, freshwater, and the ocean remains largely unknown. This gives rise to rather myths and uncertainty than solid facts to base decisions on. In order to create scientifically sound baseline data, HYDRA Marine Sciences has been active in the fields of testing, method development, and collaborative material research since 2009. In a global study, researchers from Germany, the Netherlands, and Indonesia investigated the behaviour of selected biodegradable plastic materials in different coastal scenarios in two climate zones: the warm-temperate Mediterranean Sea and tropical Southeast Asia. They exposed sheets of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), polybutylene sebacate (PBSe), polybutylene sebacateco-terephthalate (PBSeT) and LDPE film under natural marine conditions at the beach, on the seafloor and in the open water (see photo), and observed the biodegradation performance for several years. Additionally, they also conducted tank and laboratory tests where the test materials were exposed in natural seawater and sediment, determining specific half-lives for each of the scenarios. “The main question to be answered was: How long does it take?”, says Miriam Weber, the senior author of the study and director of Hydra Marine Sciences. “To replace guessing about persistence times of biodegradable plastics in the marine system with facts from real-world experiments we made a huge effort travelling half the globe, doing countless dives. Now, we have concrete numbers which allow us to directly compare materials and habitats. We also can start to mathematically model the fate of a plastic item that ends up in the ocean.” As described in the publication in Frontiers in Marine Biology, all three bioplastics tested showed substantial biodegradation in the marine environment. However, the biodegradation rates differed according to the material, the temperature, and other habitat conditions, i.e. whether the material was in contact with seawater only or also with sand. The bacteria-derived PHB showed the highest degradation rate with half-lives ranging from 54 days on the seafloor in SE Asia to 1247 days in tank tests with seawater, for an 85 µm thick film. The aliphatic polyester PBSe and the aliphatic-aromatic co-polyester PBSeT performed similarly with half-lives ranging from 99 days on the tropical seafloor to 2614 days in sediment tank tests for 25 µm thick films. The half-life as a measure for the biodegradation rate in a specific environmental scenario can now be used to estimate a persistence time for such materials, compare them numerically with each other, and also to slow- or non-biodegradable plastic materials. These results start to fill the knowledge gap on the biodegradation rate of bioplastics in the marine environment and will inform decision making and strategies on the meaningful application of these materials, legal aspects in regulation and exemption as well as life cycle (impact) assessment, and risk and benefit analyses. The complementary testing at lab, tank, and field level comprehensively demonstrates that it is well possible to gain environmentally relevant results on the behaviour of biodegradable polymers and products in the marine environment in a combined three-tier approach. This approach is currently further applied in other open environment scenarios such as freshwater. The research received partial support from the EU FP7 programme for the project Open-Bio, BASF (Germany) and NOVAMONT (Italy). The original research article can be accessed at [1] . [1] Lott, C., Half-Life of Biodegradable Plastics in the Marine Environment Depends on Material, Habitat, and Climate Zone; https:// Hydra Marine Sciences is a renowned research and test centre with testing labs, indoor and outdoor testing facilities and access to field sites nearby and worldwide. Hydra has developed several test methods and has been involved in standardization on ISO and ASTM levels since many years. bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/21] Vol. 16 35

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