Natural Plastics

News about the bioplastics industry

Tetra Pak to introduce more than three billion FSC™- labelled beverage cartons in Germany

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Tetra Pak plans to offer 3.3 billion beverage cartons bearing the label of the Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC) within one year to customers in Germany starting in June. This represents about 50 percent of the annual production of Tetra Pak cartons in Germany.

“As a leading producer of food packaging we set standards for sustainable raw material sourcing. FSC certification represents another step in Tetra Pak’s ongoing commitment to support responsible forest management and drive environmental performance – and a milestonein reliable and informative package labelling,” said Sven Weidemann, managing director of Tetra Pak Germany and Switzerland.
“Our ultimate goal is to have all supply certified to the highest standard, currently set by FSC. We are committed to increasing the number of Tetra Pak beverage cartons made from FSC-certified material as the availability of certified board increases,” he said.

On the raw material front, Tetra Pak works closely with its paperboard suppliers to ensure that all supply comes from known and acceptable sources. Currently, only 5% of the global forest stocks are FSC certified, and Tetra Pak is working with its partners to support an increase in supply. Since the introduction of the world’s first FSC-labelled liquid food cartons in the UK in 2007, Tetra Pak has introduced FSC-labelled cartons in several markets around the globe, with the total number exceeding 2.3 billion in 2009. Tetra Pak in Germany and Austria join the company’s operations in China, France, the UK and the Benelux in offering customers FSC certified packaging.

The FSC label guarantees that the wood fibres in the package are traceable all the way through the supply chain back to the forest and that the paperboard used in the package comes from FSC-certified forests and other controlled sources.

ABOUT THE FOREST STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL FSC is an independent, non-governmental, not for profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the worlds forests. It provides standard setting, trademark assurance and accreditation services for companies and organizations interested in responsible forestry. Products carrying the FSC label are independently certified to assure consumers that they come from forests that are managed to meet the social, economic and ecological needs of present and future generations. Find more information available at The FSC license code for Tetra Pak is FSC-C014047

Morgan Impresores to distribute Ingeo™ biopolymer in Chile

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NatureWorks LLC and Morgan Impresores S.A. announced today that Morgan Impresores will begin distributing Ingeo biopolymer in Chile. Ingeo is an innovative plastic that is made from plants, not oil.
Since Morgan Impresores’ inception in 1987, it has been an innovator and leader in printing and packaging materials. This passion for innovation in addition to the company’s commitment to offer sustainable solutions to the Chilean market, moved the company to create Biologística, a business area focused on biopolymers.
“The broad distribution of Ingeo to Chilean manufacturers and brand owners will give companies new opportunities to develop more sustainable packaging, foodservice items, health and beauty aids, and semi-durable products,” say Biologística business managers Rodrigo Alfaro and Augusto Cubillos. “A number of these products will not only be for local consumption, but also for export to the United States, Mexico, the European Union, and China — major trading partners with Chile.

Biologística will be distributing the full Ingeo product family of resins. The company’s personnel will provide technical support to converters and enable them to seamlessly transition plastics made from non renewable petroleum to Ingeo.

The agreement with Morgan Impresores S.A. signals NatureWorks’ long-term commitment to supporting Latin American businesses as they move toward greater sustainability. Ingeo biopolymer made from renewable plant material, not oil, emits 60 percent less greenhouse gas and requires 48 percent less energy to manufacture into resin as compared to such plastics as PET.

To view numerous examples of how companies around the world have incorporated Ingeo into their products, visit NatureWorks’ most recent “LookBook.” For more information on Ingeo, visit and on Morgan Impresores

Trevira to manufacture Ingeo™ fibers

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NatureWorks LLC and Trevira GmbH jointly announced that Trevira of Bobingen, Germany, one of the world’s leading producers of high-quality branded polyester fibers and filament yarns, now holds a master license to manufacture Ingeo fibers. The rationale for this new partnership was first discussed at the EDANA International Nonwovens Symposium, held in Milan.

“Because of its technical expertise, exemplary reputation, capability to shorten time-to-market for custom products, and range of product offerings, Trevira is the ideal company to provide Ingeo fibers to a diverse base of European Union fabric producers, converters, and brand owners,” said Eamonn Tighe, NatureWorks European business manager for fibers and nonwovens.

“Expanding our portfolio of product offerings with a cost-competitive and versatile fiber like Ingeo is both a growth strategy and the next step in our company’s sustainability journey,” said Günter Wittmann, Trevira’s director of sales and marketing, staple fibers.

“The close cooperation with NatureWorks fits perfectly into our strategy of offering specialty and customized fibers. Leadership in quality and product development relies heavily on strong partnerships.”
Ingeo is made from renewable plant materials, not oil, emitting up to 85 percent less greenhouse gas and requiring up to 69 percent less energy to manufacture into resin when compared to traditional polymers. Ingeo biopolymer not only lowers the carbon footprint of products and components, but it also offers exceptional performance capabilities.

Tighe said that in the past 18 months, NatureWorks has seen significant interest among European Union converters, brand owners, and retailers in locally sourced, low-carbon footprint fibers and nonwovens for apparel, household, technical textiles, and personal care products. He said this new relationship with such a reputable company as Trevira further confirms NatureWorks’ commitment to the fibers and nonwovens sector within the European Union.

Ford Introduces First Automobile with Soy-Based Seating

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Ford Motor Company announced that soybased polyurethane foam will be used in seats in the 2008 Ford Mustang. The soybean checkoff and the United Soybean Board (USB) have funded the development of soy-based products for over a decade. The checkoff has worked with Ford since 2004 on the development of the soy-based foam for automobile seats. Ford spent seven years researching biomaterials with various industry representatives. Partnerships among the soybean checkoff, Urethane Soy Systems Company (USSC) and Lear Corporation made flexible foam technology a reality in Ford vehicles. "Consumers may not realize that petroleum is a major ingredient in auto applications such as seating," says Todd Allen, USB New Uses chair and a soybean farmer from West Memphis, Ark. "The move by Ford to replace petroleum in auto interiors with soybean oil is revolutionary, for the automotive industry." The foam uses a 5 percent soy-based polyol and was incorporated into seat backs and cushions in the new Mustangs in August, without compromising the durability, stiffness or performance of the foam. Ford and Lear plan to increase the percentage of soy in vehicle seats in the near future. Soy polyols have proven to perform as well or better than their petroleum counterparts when it comes to total weight, strength and durability. The versatility and cost-saving aspects of soy polyols also make it a popular alternative. Ford researchers aim to eventually replace up to 40 percent of the standard petroleum-based polyol with soy-based material. Using the soy polyurethane at this level could save Ford as much as $26 million in annual costs, while providing an environmental benefit. The National Institute of Standards and Technology says soy polyols have only one-quarter the environmental impact of petroleumbased ingredients. "As we move forward to develop a portfolio of sustainable materials that will go into future Ford vehicles, soy-based polyurethane seats are a great first step and one of many environmental initiatives Ford is implementing," says Matthew Zuluzec, Ford Materials and Nanotechnology manager. "Working together with USB and our key suppliers, Ford Motor Company’s Materials Research efforts will continue to drive biobased and renewable materials into our vehicles as part of our ongoing environmental stewardship." Soy-based polyurethane foam holds even more potential. Most automotive manufacturers are using 100 percent petroleum-based polyol foam. The annual demand for petroleum based polyols is 3 billion pounds in the United States and 9 billion pounds worldwide. On average each automobile produced uses 30 pounds of petroleum-based foam. That leaves a large potential market for soybased foam, and other automobile manufacturers are looking at soy-based products as well.

Sugar-based bioplastic to sweeten packaging

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A new sugar-based bioplastic that can be sourced from non-food crops and produced via a low energy process could be brought to market within the next five years, said UK scientists. Reasearchers from Imperial College, London, said the polymer could be used in a range of applications including food packaging. The degradable polymer, made from sugars known as lignocellulosic biomass, has many of the qualities of leading bioplastic material polylactide, but degrades more quickly and at lower temperatures, Dr Charlotte Williams told Key breakthrough “Our key breakthrough was in finding a way of using a non-food crop to form a polymer, as there are ethical issues around using food sources in this way,” said project leader Williams. Current bio-renewable plastics use crops such as corn or sugar beet and are usually manufactured through fermentation. The new polymer, however, is produced by a lower energy chemical process.
The team has spent some time developing a production technique to allow the polymer to become commercially viable. “For the plastic to be useful it had to be manufactured in large volumes, which was technically challenging,” said Williams. “It took three-and-a-half years for us to hit a yield of around 80 per cent in a low energy, low water use process. This means that 100g of glucose could typically yield around 70g of the plastic.” The team said this is significant as polylactide is formed in a high energy process requiring large volumes of water. In addition, when it reaches the end of its life polylactide must be degraded in a high-temperature industrial facility. By contrast, the oxygen-rich sugars in the new polymer allow it to absorb water and degrade to harmless products at between temperatures of 40-70°C depending on the level of glucose in the polymer’s repeatable unit. This means that the material could degrade at temperatures found in domestic compost heaps, said Williams. The substance has a degradation time of a few months to one year, compared to polylactide’s three months to two years, she added.
The team is currently working on scaling up production and is scheduled to go to the pilot plant stage – which would see output jump from kilogrammes to tons – by the end of the summer. Securing food contact authorisation is also an issue the group said it will soon begin to address. “The development of the material is very promising and I’m optimistic that the technology could be in use within two to five years,” said Williams, who is already working with a number of commercial partners and is keen to engage others interested in the material. Biorenewable plastics are materials whose feedstock material (monomer) comes from renewable resources. The leading example is polylactic acid which derives from lactic acid, produced by fermentation of corn or sugar beet. These biorenewable plastics are different to biopolymers, which are naturally occurring polymers such as starch or cellulose.

Purac to produce Lactic Acid from papermaking waste streams

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Purac has signed a contract to participate in a consortium that will develop a process to produce feedstock from cellulosic waste derived from the pulp and paper industry. This feedstock is expected to be usable for production of lactic acid. The other partners in the program are Crown Van Gelder N.V., a paper producing company, and Bumaga B.V., a development center in the paper and board industry.  The project is part of the Dutch Biorefinery program and partially funded by the Dutch Ministries of Economic Affairs and Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.
Purac is a partner in this consortium as it develops new sustainable building blocks for the chemical industry. Purac already has some important initiatives in this area such as Lactides for Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) and Succinic Acid. This initiative will also speed up Purac's program to use alternative non-food substrates such as agricultural byproducts instead of sugars, glucose and tapioca starch as substrates for its fermentation processes. 
Fabrizio Rampinelli, CEO of Purac comments: "The participation of Purac in this project fits the program of Purac in the area of sustainable chemistry. This program gives us a considerable opportunity together with our partners, to grow the market for bio-based chemicals and contribute to a sustainable economy."


PLA injection molding breakthrough

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The problems with injection molding conventional PLA are well known, not least of which are its low heat resistance and limited injection-molding capability because of PLA’s increased cycle time. Teijin and Panasonic Electric Works announced their joint development of heat-resistant polylactide (PLA) molding compound made from 80% plant-based renewable feedstock and providing significantly reduced molding cycle time of around half that of conventional PLA compounds.
Panasonic Electric Works will begin selling the new material as its MBA900H PLA molding compound for use in cell phone housings and other mobile devices and digital consumer electronics. The initial goal is to produce 1000 tons of MBA900H PLA annually by fiscal 2012..
The bioplastic used in the MBA900H is Teijin’s Biofront, a high-heat resistant PLA with a melting point of at least 210ºC, which is significantly higher than that of conventional PLA. Biofront also shows better hydrolytic stability and achieves semi-crystallization in just 20-25% of the time required with conventional PLA.

Source: Plastics Today

Parliament calls for EU biowaste directive

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The European Commission should draft specific EU legislation to introduce compulsory recycling of biowaste, including garden residue and food waste from restaurants and food processing units, the European Parliament said yesterday (6 July).
"The rules on the management of biowaste are fragmented and the current legislative instruments are not sufficient to achieve the stated objectives of the effective management of bio-waste," the Parliament said in a resolution regarding the European Commission's 2008 Green Paper on the issue.
The resolution, which is not legally binding, was drawn up by Portuguese centre-right MEP José Manuel Fernandes (European People's Party) in the Parliament's environment committee.
In the resolution, the House argues that a specific directive would offer greater clarity, better monitoring and enforcement as well as legal certainty, which in turn would inspire long-term confidence in public and private investors.
MEPs therefore urge the Commission to review existing legislation and put forward a draft directive by the end of 2010.
According to the Parliament, the directive should establish a mandatory separate collection system to help member states reach their recycling and renewable energy targets and achieve the resource efficiency goals of the 'Europe 2020' strategy.
The House also asks for quality-based classification of compost types derived from biowaste and urges the Commission and member states to raise public awareness of waste prevention and recycling.
Commission sees no need for separate directive
Earlier this year, the Commission rejected calls for a stand-alone directive on biowaste, arguing that that there are no policy gaps at EU level that prevent member states from taking stronger action at present (EurActiv 19/05/10).
"Progress achieved in several member states shows that existing waste legislation is an excellent basis for advanced bio-waste management," the EU executive said in a communication.
It said the available tools simply need to be used more effectively and encouraged member states to choose the management options best suited to their national context.
However, a number of EU-level support initiatives, such as developing standards for compost, could be set up to accompany national action, the Commission added.
EU presidency trio priority
Biowaste is one of the stated priorities of the 'trio' of EU presidencies from 2010 to 2011 - Spain, Belgium and Hungary (EurActiv 11/06/09).
While the trio has been piling pressure on the Commission to table a separate directive, sources say the topic is considered "genuinely controversial" in the EU Council of Ministers, as local and regional differences are so great that it will be very difficult to legislate on the matter at EU level.
Meanwhile, sources believe that the Commission might propose a "loose" directive next year to at least reach agreement on compost quality in view of fostering an internal market for it.

Chemistry goes green

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IS GREEN chemistry ready for take-off? Delegates at a big conference on “industrial biotechnology” held near Washington, DC, this week by Bio, the industry’s umbrella organisation, seemed to think so. Industrial biotech uses agricultural feedstocks, rather than petroleum-based ones, to produce chemicals, plastics and fuels. McKinsey, a consultancy, says global industry revenues will grow from €116 billion ($170 billion) in 2008 to as much as €450 billion by 2020. The World Economic Forum reckons the coming boom in “biorefineries” will create new markets worth almost $300 billion by 2020.
Industrial biotech seems to have been relatively unscathed by the financial crisis. Codexis, an American start-up backed by Royal Dutch Shell, an Anglo-Dutch oil giant, pulled off a stockmarket flotation in April. Amyris, another American start-up, secured an investment of around $130m from Total, a French oil firm, this week and is likely to go public soon too.
In part, this is because big companies are embracing the technology. Frito-Lay, a maker of snacks controlled by PepsiCo, is adopting compostable crisp packets. Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer, is expanding its use of bioplastics. Procter & Gamble, a consumer-products giant, recently agreed to use some biochemicals made by Amyris in its products. Craig Binetti of DuPont, a chemicals colossus, says his firm’s industrial-biotech sales soared from $50m in 2007 to $200m last year—and will grow to $1 billion by 2015.
Another reason industrial biotech is taking off, after several false starts, is that the technologies involved are now mature enough to be scaled up from laboratory curiosities to full commercialisation. “We’re not just dealing with vats any more,” insists Volkert Claassen of Royal DSM, a Dutch maker of food enzymes. This week the firm announced a joint venture with Roquette Frères, a French chemicals firm, to build a factory to produce a bio-based version of succinic acid, which is used in paints, textiles and coatings.
Similarly, Metabolix, an American firm, has set up a $300m facility in Iowa with Archer Daniels Midland, an agribusiness giant. DuPont has teamed up with Tate & Lyle, a British sugar firm, to build the first commercial factory to make propanediol (a chemical used in cosmetics, among other things) from corn instead of petroleum. And on June 28th Elevance, an American firm, announced a joint venture with Wilmar International, an Asian agribusiness giant, to build the world’s largest chemicals biorefinery in Indonesia by 2011.
Developing countries are emerging as major markets and sources of innovation for industrial biotech. Braskem, a Brazilian chemicals firm, has commercialised polyethylene—a commonly used plastic resin—made from sugarcane. It is now working with Novozymes, a pioneering Danish biotech firm, to repeat the trick for polypropylene, another common plastic. And Brazil’s ethanol industry, already the world’s biggest, wants to move from first-generation ethanol (made from sugarcane) to the next-generation cellulosic variety.
That Brazilian edge worries the American biofuels industry, and highlights the final factor now boosting industrial biotech: government support. At this week’s conference, for example, America’s Department of Energy announced $24m in funding for algae-based biofuels (on top of an existing $146m). But bureaucrats can bet on the wrong technologies. Brent Erickson of Bio observes that although governments are keenly promoting biofuels, most private investment in industrial biotech is going into other, less prominent areas.
And governments are too easily pushed into protectionism. An egregious example is America’s tariff ($0.54 per gallon) on imported ethanol, to protect domestic producers of corn-based ethanol. Marcos Jank, head of Brazil’s sugarcane association, took to the conference stage in a yellow, green and blue shirt. Asked if this was to show support for his country’s football team, he turned around to reveal the back of his shirt. It bore the number 54 and the message “”.

Source: The Economist