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issue 05/2021

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Highlights: Fibres, Textiles, Nonwovens Biocomposites Basics: CO2-based plastics

Biocomposites By: Asta

Biocomposites By: Asta Partanen and Michael Carus nova-Institut, Hürth, Germany Today, the various biocomposites can be easily used in a wide range of applications and have reached the mass market as an alternative to conventional plastics. The annual growth of biocomposite granulates has been estimated be 5 % by nova-Institut for 2020 to 2028 (CAGR). What are biocomposites? Basically, any material that consists of natural fibres or particles (see Figure) and a binder (e.g., polymer, resin) can be called a biocomposite. Biocomposites are a collective term for natural fibrereinforced materials that are partly or entirely of biogenic origin. Current trends and areas of application In total, approx. 480,000 t/year of biocomposites are produced in Europe, consisting of decking boards (180,000 t/year, extrusion), automotive (150,000 t/year, compression moulding) and injection moulding granulates (150,000 t/year). One of the largest applications of biocomposites is outdoor decking. These are often produced from the by-products of local sawmills and from plastic recyclates. The thermoplastic end-product is easily recyclable, which is why some decking manufacturers offer a take-back scheme. One of the oldest markets for biocomposites is automotive lightweight interior parts. In three new French automobiles, hemp fibres are used in the interior door panels, not only in compression moulding, which is one of the established processes of automotive interior parts, but more recently also in injection moulding. By 2021, a total of 16 vehicle types will use APM’s NafiLean hemp injection moulding technology, totalling 13 million vehicles. An injection moulding pioneer in the furniture sector can be found in Finnish schools. Isku Prima school chairs have been produced since 2010. The seat and backrest materials are made of a cellulose fibre-reinforced recycled plastic. The Dutch furniture manufacturer Vepa has a chair collection with a shell made of hemp fibres and biobased resin from the company Plantics on the market in 2021. The innovative compression moulding technology with biobased resin Granulate Producer Country Polymers Fibres and Natural Fillers "Production range 2020 in tonnes" AMORIM PT PP, TPE/TPS, Rubber Cork 50,000 – 100,000 Beologic Advanced Compounding DE BE/AT PP, ABS, PBS, PC, PE, PHA, PHB, PLA, PMMA, PS, PVC, SAN, TPE "PP, rPP, PA, PE rPE, TPU, TPE, Biopolymers" Wood, natural and cellulose fibres Wood, cellulose and natural fibres, antibacterial and recyceld fibres 10,000 – 20,000 5,000 – 10,000 Tecnaro DE "PP, PBAT, PBS, PE, PLA, Wood, natural and other Lignin, fibres recyceld biopolymers" 5,000 – 10,000 Actiplast FR PVC, rPVC Wood and natural fibres 1,000 – 5,000 ADmajoris FR PP, Biopolymers Wood, natural fibres and others 1,000 – 5,000 Automotive Performance Materials APM Golden Compound FR DE PP, rPP, PBS, Biopolymers, ABS, PVC, TPE rPP, PP, PBS, PBSA, recyceld biopolymers Only hemp fibres from agricultural cooperative Fibres from sun flower seed hulls 1,000 – 5,000 1,000 – 5,000 Wood, cellulose and Jelu Werke DE PP, Biopolymers 1,000 – 5,000 natural fibres and others Wood, bamboo and Naftex DE PA, PP, PLA, Biopolymers 1,000 – 5,000 natural fibres PlasticWOOD IT PP, Biopolymers Wood 1,000 – 5,000 Rhenoflex Stora Enso DE SE/FI PP, Polyester, PLA, PE, TPU, EVA PP, Bio-PP, rPP, Biopolymers Corn cob, wood, rice husks and straw 1,000 – 5,000 Wood and cellulose fibres 1,000 – 5,000 Trifilon SE rPP, Biopolymers Hemp and flax fibres 1,000 – 5,000 UPM FI PP, Biopolymers Cellulose fibres 1,000 – 5,000 Addiplast FR PP Wood, cellulose and natural fibres 500 – 1,000 Biofibre FKuR Solutions made from DE DE makes it possible to realise an entirely biobased seat shell. The product received the “Renewable Material of the Year 2021” award this May. The nova Institute has comprised a list of all European manufacturers of biocomposite granules (an update is soon to follow*). The list includes 35 manufacturers from nine different countries. The amount of granulates produced and sold reached a new record of almost 150,000 tonnes in 2020. The following table gives a comprehensive overview of the largest producers of biocomposite granulates in Europe. The Portuguese cork producer Amorim is the largest PP, rPP, PBAT, PBS, PE, PLA PP, rPP, Bio-PE, PHA, PLA Wood, cellulose and natural fibres 500 – 1,000 Wood, bamboo and cork 500 – 1,000 Hexpol TPE DE TPE Cork 500 – 1,000 PC Paper Compound DE Biopolymers Paper fibre 500 – 1,000 Transmare NL PP, PE, PLA Wood and natural fibres 500 – 1,000 Several small producers (see second about 4,000 table) Total EU 150,000 Table: Comprehensive overview of the largest producers of biocomposite granulates in Europe. 42 bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/21] Vol. 16

enewable materials 9% 4% 4% Biocomposites 30% 53% Cork Wood NaturalFibres: Flax, Hemp, Kenaf Cellulose (Pulp or Paper-based) Others:Meadow Grass, SunFlower Hulls and Straw Figure: Distribution of fibre types used in biocomposites Source: nova-Institut producer with 50,000-100,000 t/year. Almost everyone knows products like shoe soles from Birkenstock, handles for sports equipment, or floor coverings. But insulation for space travel is also part of the product portfolio. Beologic from Belgium produce more than 10,000 tonnes per year and have been offering granulates with many residual materials such as blue jeans fibres or grapevines for 20 years. Advanced Compounding and Tecnaro are the largest producers from Germany with over 5,000 t/year each. Many companies offer a wide range of polymers as well as a wide range of wood and natural fibres. Advanced Compounding uses the natural antibacterial properties of pine wood to produce antibacterial materials for toys and for the food and construction industries. UPM (Finland), Sappi (South Africa) and Stora Enso (Sweden/Finland) are now major players in the pulp and paper industry. High-volume 3D printing for innovative furniture is one of the latest applications of Stora Enso – as well as UPM granules. Growing environmental awareness, bans on singleuse plastic products in the EU, and increased use of renewable materials are leading to the search for reusable and durable products. *The nova-Institute will publish an updated version of this report this October with brand new up-to-date numbers and figures which will be available at Home Compostable Materials M·VERA® GP Series Discover our wide range of biodegradable injection moulding materials with high renewable carbon content and food approval. Use them for coffee capsules, packaging and much more. Of course, we provide industrially compostable materials, too. The matching AF-Eco® color or additve masterbatches are also available. Come and see us at: Stand 2209, Hall B2 BIO-FED Branch of AKRO-PLASTIC GmbH Cologne · Germany Phone: +49 221 88 8894-00 bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/21] Vol. 16 43

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