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Issue 05/2018

  • Text
  • Bioplastics
  • Plastics
  • Biobased
  • Products
  • Materials
  • Biodegradable
  • Packaging
  • Compostable
  • Sustainable
  • Carbon

News Blending

News Blending bioplastics enhances biodegradability Researchers at University College Dublin (Ireland) have found a potential solution to tackling plastic waste – a new biodegradable material that safely disposes in everyday compost bins. Scientists at BEACON Bioeconomy Research Centre, the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded Research Centre at University College Dublin, and AMBER, the SFI Research Centre for materials science at Trinity College Dublin, have discovered a blend of biodegradable plastic that completely degrades under typical home-composting conditions. Their findings were published in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology. Professor Kevin O’Connor and Dr Tanja Narancic, BEACON and UCD’s School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science, and AMBER Investigator Dr Ramesh Babu carried out the research, along with other European collaborators. The team blended 15 different biodegradable plastics together so they could function as commercial plastics but which could be composted at home. They discovered that mixing PLA, which by its own is not home-compostable, with polycaprolactone (PCL) created a material that degraded completely within 60 days under typical home-composting conditions. They also found that these biodegradable plastics could be fed to anaerobic digesters to produce biogas. “Imagine putting your waste plastic packaging into a household composting bin that breaks down the plastic and produces compost for your garden,” said Professor O’Connor. “Or if waste collection companies were able to mix what’s in your brown bin with plastic spoiled by unavoidable food waste and produce biogas to run their fleet or power your home, that’s the future this study suggests.” Dr Ramesh Babu, AMBER and TCD’s School of Physics, added: “We have shown for the first time that you can blend plastics together to make them more biodegradable but still keeping the strength and performance of the plastic.” However, Professor O'Connor warned that the study also found that only two of the 15 biodegradable plastics tested broke down completely under standard soil and water conditions. “Therefore, biodegradable plastics are not a panacea for plastic pollution and post-consumer biodegradable plastic must be managed carefully to avoid pollution and bring benefit to society,” he added. It is estimated that between 5 million and 12.5 million tonnes of plastic leaks into the world’s oceans each year to be ingested by sea birds, fish and other organisms, and experts warn that some of it is already finding its way into the human food chain. The European Commission paved the way last month for member states to restrict the use of single-use plastic products without falling foul of EU market rules. The proposals, which called for plastic items including cutlery and straws to be banned, however do not set a deadline. MT PepsiCo joins NaturALL Bottle Alliance The NaturALL Bottle Alliance is a research consortium formed in 2017 by Danone, Nestlé Waters and biobased materials development company Origin Materials to accelerate the development of innovative packaging solutions made with 100% sustainable and renewable resources. On Sep 10, it announced that PepsiCo, Inc. has joined the Alliance to advance the shared goal of creating beverage containers with a significantly reduced carbon footprint. The Alliance also provided a progress report in its goal of developing and launching a PET plastic bottle made from biobased material. Launched in March 2017, the Alliance uses biomass feedstocks, such as previously used cardboard and sawdust, so it does not divert resources or land from food production for human or animal consumption. The technology being explored by the Alliance represents a scientific breakthrough for the sector, and the Alliance aims to make it available to the entire food and beverage industry. Progress Report: After producing samples of 80% biobased PET at pilot scale in 2017, the Alliance has made further progress toward its goal of bringing its breakthrough technology to full commercial scale. It has notably selected a site in Sarnia, Ontario (Canada) (with the assistance of Bioindustrial Innovation Canada), and begun construction of its demonstration-scale plant. The major process equipment has been fabricated and modules are under construction for this plant, which is expected to have a capacity of 18,000 tonnes of biomass and be fully operational by 2020. Following that milestone, the Alliance plans to increase production to 95% bio-based PET and achieve full commercial-scale soon after. Alliance members plan to continue their joint R&D efforts to increase the level of bio-based content, with the ultimate objective of reaching 100 %. MT 8 bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/18] Vol. 13

Industrial Solutions for Polymer Plants Polylactide Technology Uhde Inventa Fischer Polycondensation Technologies has expanded its product portfolio to include the innovative state-of-the-art PLAneo ® process for a sustainable polymer. The feedstock for our PLA process is lactic acid, which can be produced from local agricultural products containing starch or sugar. The application range of PLA is similar to that of polymers based on fossil resources as its physical properties can be tailored to meet packaging, textile and other requirements. bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/18] Vol. 13 9

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