Natural Plastics

News about the bioplastics industry

NEC Develops High Performance Bioplastic with a High Plant Ratio by Using Non-edible Plant Resources

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NEC Corporation announced today the development of a first-of-its-kind durable new biomass-based plastic (bioplastic) that is produced from non-edible plant resources. The bioplastic is created by bonding cellulose (*1), a main component of plant stems, with cardanol (*2), a primary component of cashew nut shells, which achieves a level of durability that is suitable for electronic equipment and boasts a high plant composition ratio of more than 70%.
The new bioplastic characteristics are as follows:
1. Composed of non-edible plant resources
As an alternative to petroleum-based components, cellulose is the plastic’s major ingredient. The cellulose, which is produced in large amounts by plants, including grass stems, etc., is modified by cardanol, an oil-like material that is extracted from cashew nut shells. Most of these stems and nut shells are abundant resources, which are often discarded byproducts of the agricultural process.
2. High plant component ratio
The use of cellulose and cardanol, both plant resources, as the plastic’s primary components produces a plastic that features a high plant component ratio of more than 70%. Current cellulose based plastics include large amounts of petroleum-based additives, which results in a low plant component ratio.
3. High durability well suited for electronics
After enhancing its reactivity, cardanol is chemically bonded with cellulose, which produces a durable thermo-plastic that is strong, heat resistant, water resistant and non-crystalline (short molding time), due to the bonded cardanol’s unique molecular structure consisting of flexible and rigid parts.
Comparison to existing bioplastics: polylactic acid resin (PLA) (*3) and cellulose acetate (CA) based resin
- Durability (strength & malleability): Twice the strength of existing PLA. Comparable to conventional CA resin ?
- Heat resistance (glass transition temperature): More than twice the resistance of PLA, approximately 1.3 times more than CA resin
- Water resistance: Comparable to PLA, approximately 3 times more than CA resin
- Molding time: Less than 50% of PLA. Comparable to conventional cellulose-based and petroleum-based plastics.
In recent years, bioplastics composed from plant resources gathered greater attention as an effective measure to reduce the depletion of petroleum resources and alleviate global warming. However, while current leading bioplastics, such as PLA, primarily use feed grains as a plant resource, the possibility of future food shortages has emphasized the importance of using non-edible plant resources to produce bioplastics.
Therefore, non-edible plant-based bioplastics have been developed using such resources as cellulose and castor oil (*4). These cellulose-based bioplastics have conventionally been utilized in stationery, toys and household goods. However, these modified celluloses require large amounts of petroleum-based additives such as plasticizers, which results in bioplastics with a low plant component ratio and poor durability, including heat resistance and water resistance.
A polyamide resin derived from castor oil, a non-edible plant resource is also being used in electronic parts, however, there is an inadequate supply of this plant resource to expand its use and its characteristics are unsuitable for use in a variety of electronics.
However, NEC’s newly developed bioplastic resolves each of these issues. Looking forward, the company will continue with research and development towards mass production of this bioplastic and improving its suitability for a wide range of electronic equipment within the 2013 fiscal year.
This newly developed bioplastic will be formally announced at The Chemical Society of Japan / Kanto Branch meeting at the University of Tsukuba on August 31, 2010.
Source: NEC Corporation

PolyOne Achieves Key Certification for Eco-Friendly Colorants and Additives

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PolyOne Corporation (NYSE: POL), has announced that its OnColor™ BIO and OnCap™ BIO masterbatches have been granted OK Compost certification by AIB Vinçotte, marking the first time this has been awarded to a full range of colorants and additives.
AIB Vinçotte, an independent inspection organization, grants OK Compost certification after verifying that a product meets EN 13432, a standard for compostability recognized in Europe, Asia and North America. Products meeting this standard are authorized to use the OK Compost label, which guarantees the item is biodegradable in an industrial composting plant. To qualify for this label, manufacturers must demonstrate that all components of a product or package, including inks, pigments and additives, meet EN 13432.
“As environmentally conscious consumers become more aware of the OK Compost certification, demand is growing for packaging and consumer goods that earn this label,” said Marcel Dartée, PolyOne’s global marketing director for biopolymers. “Using our exclusively certified colorants and additives helps customers to accelerate OK Compost approval of their products. In addition, PolyOne is able to formulate application-specific solutions that are certified in advance.”
John Van Hulle, president of Global Color, Additives and Inks, said, “This achievement underscores PolyOne’s long-term commitment to sustainability, and represents the culmination of several years of development work. We will continue to expand the range of OK Compost certified solutions to support our customers in meeting the preferences of eco-conscious consumers.”


Robinson Home Products Stirs Up the Housewares Sector with Green Street™ Kitchen Utensils Using SABIC Innovative Plastics’ Valox iQ* Resin

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Kitchenware industry leader, Robinson Home Products has tapped SABIC Innovative Plastics’ eco-engineered Valox iQ* resin for its new Green Street™ line of plastic kitchen utensils. A more sustainable, higher-performance material than traditional resins, Valox iQ resin utilizes upcycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) water bottles, diverting them from already bulging landfills. Equally important, this innovative product delivers the exceptional performance and quality that consumers demand in kitchenware, including heat and chemical resistance, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for food contact, and attractive appearance. SABIC Innovative Plastics’ investment in sustainable technologies helps companies like Robinson Home Products – a SABIC Innovative Plastics customer for over 30 years – achieve business success while promoting environmental protection.

“When we set out to create our new eco housewares line, we considered all aspects of the manufacturing cycle:  from choosing a nearby molder that generates its own power to manufacturing in the United States in order to reduce the environmental impact of shipping nearly 12,000 miles from Asia,” said Bob Skerker, chief executive officer, Robinson Home Products. “To find a sustainable thermoplastic for our Green Street line, we turned to long-time supplier SABIC Innovative Plastics to help us find the right solution. Valox iQ resin is now playing a critical role in enhancing the consumer appeal of these new utensils, helping us to strengthen our own eco-leadership position and grow our business.”

“Our versatile Valox iQ resins are adding value to the sustainability movement on a variety of fronts, from cutting fuel consumption and emissions in lightweight auto body panels to transforming discarded plastic into beautiful and useful housewares,” said Dennis VanPoppelen, product market leader Americas, SABIC Innovative Plastics. “We are investing in a wide range of other sustainability solutions to give customers even more options for reducing their products’ environmental impact without sacrificing performance or aesthetics. Needless to say, our customers are whole-heartedly embracing our efforts to deliver uncompromising performance combined with a lower environmental footprint.

A Greener Kitchen
Consumers are increasingly demanding products with lower environmental impact and Valox iQ resin is helping to address this need. The innovative resin is made from up to 60 percent upcycled post-consumer plastic waste, giving it a carbon footprint 50 to 85 percent lower than other engineered thermoplastics and extending the useful life of a PET bottle to 20 years. The Valox iQ resin product line includes Cradle-to-CradleSM certified grades, meaning that it supports a model that aims to eliminate waste entirely by circulating safe and healthful materials within closed-loop systems of continuous reuse.

In addition to its sustainability, Valox iQ resin offered Robinson the outstanding performance characteristics needed to support the company’s reputation for excellence. It withstands the demanding environment of the home kitchen, including exposure to cleansers, oils and grease, and high temperatures (up to 205 C/401 F) from cooking and automatic dishwashers. It can be custom colored and easily molded into unique and complex three-dimensional shapes, such as the distinctive branch design of the Green Street utensils.
Robinson’s Green Street products are now globally available.


Braskem to Supply "Green" PE to Procter & Gamble

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Brazilian petrochemical company Braskem (NYSE: BAK) will supply its sugarcane ethanol-based polyethylene (PE) to multinational consumer products company Procter & Gamble's (P&G) (NYSE: PG) cosmetics lines Pantene, Max Factor and Cover Girl packaging.

P&G already uses Braskem's oil-based PE, but negotiations on "green" PE supply began when the Brazilian firm started the biopolymer project, approximately three years ago, Braskem's polymers business VP Rui Chammas told journalists during an event in Sao Paulo.

Braskem expected to begin producing the "green" resin this month at the Triunfo petrochemical hub, in Rio Grande do Sul state. Investments in the 200,000t/y plant reached 500mn reais (US$283mn).
The first P&G product line to use the sugarcane ethanol resin is Pantene, and packaging made with the biopolymer will be available from 2011, according to P&G corporate affairs director in Brazil, Gabriela Onofre. P&G plans to expand the use of the "green" PE beyond to other items, Gabriela said.
Chammas added that most of the plant's production has already been negotiated with approximately 20 Brazilian and foreign companies, from which 10 were not publicly disclosed. "More than two-thirds of the production will be exported," Chammas said.

Some of the firms that will use the "green" resin are Japanese automobile manufacturer Toyota, Tetra Pak, Johnson & Johnson, Estrela, Shiseido, Acinplas and Petropack. According to Chammas, PE is the most commonly used plastic globally, with annual global demand of some 70Mt, and has several applications in both flexible and rigid packaging.

The executive explained that sugarcane PE has a greater appeal in mature economies, mostly in Europe, Japan and South Korea in Asia, and the US.
The part of the production that has not been negotiated will be used by the company as part of its commercialization strategy, Braskem's institutional affairs VP Marcelo Lyra said.

Lyra also pointed out that even though the company's "green" PE is more expensive than the petrochemical-based one, it is the most competitive of all other biopolymers.

Braskem is the third biggest consumer of ethanol in the country, with some 700Ml annually, which it also uses to supply its bio-additive ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE) plants in Bahia and Rio Grande do Sul. The ethanol is purchased from about 10 mills, including Cosan, ETH and Guarani.
Expansion plans for Braskem's "green" PE are progressing, as well as research into the development of 100% renewably sourced polypropylene, Lyra added.


Experts predict boom in bio-based resins

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While materials like polylactic acid currently get most of the attention, bioplastics experts believe that eventually the majority of bio-based resins will be conventional resins -- such as polyethylene and polypropylene -- made from renewable resources rather than from petroleum.
“The next generation of bio-plastic resins is already coming,” said Jim Lunt of Jim Lunt & Associates LLC in Wayzata, Minn. “There is increasing interest and development in making both existing and new monomers from renewable resources. We are transitioning from oil-based to renewable feedstocks.”
Braskem SA, for example, is expected to begin making sugar-cane based ethylene that will be turned into polyethylene at its plant in Triunfo Brazil, starting in August, with annual output projected to be 400 million pounds. That will be the first plant to produce traditional plastics resins on an industrial scale using a 100 percent renewable feedstock.
Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co. has already announced plans to use Braskem’s sugarcane-derived PE in selected packaging on its Pantene Pro-V, Covergirl and Max Factor products.
Brian Balmer, performance materials industry principal for Frost & Sullivan Inc., said polymers like PE and PP behave the same regardless of whether they are made from oil or bio-based feedstocks. While some end-users may be reluctant to use new materials, “there are all sorts of things that people are developing to make existing polymers from renewable resources.”
Lunt noted at the recent Emerging Trends in Plastics Packaging conference in Atlanta that, right now, India Glycols Ltd. is making bio-derived ethylene glycol for incorporation into PET, both Cargill and Dow have some soy-based polyurethanes, and a number of companies, including Myriant Technologies LLC in Quincy, Mass., and DNP Green Technology Inc. in Montreal are making succinic acid.
Myriant is scheduled to begin building a $50 million bio-based succinic acid facility in Lake Providence, La., in September.
“We are looking at a different route for materials and chemicals as we move forward,” said Michael Mang, business development manager at Myriant. “Companies are focused on making chemicals from renewable resources to deliver products with a smaller environmental footprint, and they are going after established markets so it becomes an easy adoption for the customer.”
“We are going through a feedstock change that is going to reinvigorate the industry,” said Jim Millis, whose Plymouth, Minn., consulting firm Chemurgix LLC works with DNP Green, which is targeting succinic acid as its first product.
Bioamber, a joint venture between DNP Green and Agro-Industry Research & Development in France is building the first biobased succinic acid plant in Pomacle, France. In addition, DNP Green and GreenField Ethanol, using a license from BioAmber, plan to build a $50 million succinic acid de-icer refinery in Hensell, Ont.
“People are using bio-based technology to green existing polymers,” said Millis. “There is a change in focus away from new materials into new technologies for existing materials.
Lunt said the drive to replace oil as a feedstock will continue — whether that means making PE from sugarcane, PET from biomass, nylon 6 from lycine, or PU from soy-based alcohols.
“Creating traditional resins from renewable feedstocks is very much where bioplastics is growing,” Lunt said. “I don’t see the plastics industry having a whole group of new plastic polymers it has never seen before.”
Growth rates for bioplastics are projected at 15-20 percent for 2011, and long-range growth forecasts range anywhere from 12-20 percent to 30-40 percent annually, depending on how quickly new bio-resins and their markets develop.
“There is a lot of emphasis on PLA today, but the bioplastics market is much more diverse than that and it is hard to see where PLA will fit in long-range, if you look at what’s going on” in engineered resins and resins from renewable resources, Balmer said.
“[PLA’s] short-term market growth will be dependant on capacity and supply, as demand still exceeds supply,” Balmer said. Longer-term, PLA will remain a niche polymer, split fairly evenly between packaging and fiber applications.
Marc Verbruggen, president and CEO of NatureWorks LLC thinks otherwise.
“PLA-type production should be able to growth 30 percent for the foreseeable future,” he said. “People will be looking at PLA as a viable alternative purely from an economic standpoint. We are only limited by the ability to put assets on the ground.”
Verbruggen said the market will depend on the cost of various bio-based resins.
“With our economies of scale, we are willing to fight that battle to see who has the lowest-priced biopolymer,” Verbruggen said.
Regardless of which bio-resins ultimately thrive, there is agreement that the global bioplastics market has reached a critical juncture.
Lunt said commercializing traditional resins made from non-petroleum resources will spur faster growth of bio-resins, since suppliers will not need to sell customers on new resins with new properties.
“As a manufacturer, I don’t have to build a new plant and I know the properties because it is the same chemical,” he said.
He cautioned, however, that conventional polymers made from renewable resources still have to be made at the right price, and that “it is still in the early days for a lot of those materials.”
“The companies doing this have to do it in a cost-effective way,” Lunt said. “If it is at three times the price or 50 percent more, it is not going to be impressive.
“Whether it is competitive or not may depend on how many chemical steps you need to take to make it, and whether there is an endless supply of the new feedstock,” Lunt said. “Just having a renewable building block is not a guarantee of success. It needs to be price competitive and environmentally sound.”
Ultimately, Lunt thinks there will be a number of conventional polymers made from renewable resources, and the feedstock will vary, based on the location of the plant.
“It won’t be all based on one commodity,” he said. “There will be polymers made from sugar cane, potato waste, sugar beets, algae, wood pulp and corn stalks,” just to name a few.
Regardless of their bio-resin niche, companies need to focus on what the resin does.
“Bio-plastic suppliers should focus on improving product performance and the depth of their product range if they are to succeed in the rapidly evolving markets for bio-based plastics,” Balmer said. “End users need to be made aware of the various alternatives available in bio-based plastics, with a clear definition of the performance and end-of-life characteristics of each of these bio-based plastics.”
Balmer also said that partnerships involving key market participants will be critical to long-term success in bio-plastics.
“Partnership with major chemical companies will ensure that bio-based plastic producers with a predominantly agricultural background will gain rapid access to critical technology and market development capabilities,” he said.
In addition, which polymers from renewable resources gain prominence will likely depend on how they sourced and from what type of renewable resource or crop.
“In theory, you could make the polyethylene in the world from plant-based sources, given the available land,” Balmer said. “But you don’t want to use crops that are being grown on lands that can be used for food.
“The challenge will be sourcing the feedstock cost-effectively,” he said. “You need a crop that grows quickly and gives you a high yield and you need to do it in an environmentally-sensitive way.”
Ultimately, the experts agreed that bio-based resins from renewable feedstocks are inevitable.
“Oil will always go up and make it commercially feasible for bioplastics,” Balmer said.


Whiskey Byproducts Could Produce Next Big Biofuel

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Researchers at Edinburgh Napier University have patented a process to produce biobutanol, a fuel that can be used in existing gasoline engines without any modifications, from whiskey by-products. In utilizing waste products, the process eliminates the need to use arable land and food crops to produce a more sustainable fuel.
The team at Napier Biofuel Research Center focused their efforts on pot ale, the liquid left over in copper stills after whisky fermentation, and draff, the spent barley left over from the malting process, as whisky production, the largest biological process in the UK, produces large quantities of these waste products.    
Scotland's malt whisky industry produces 1600 million liters/year of pot ale and 187,000 tons/year of draff. Samples of the two substances were provided by Diageo's Glenkinchie Distillery.   
"While some energy companies are growing crops specifically to generate biofuel, we are investigating excess materials such as whisky by-products to develop them. This is a more environmentally sustainable option and potentially offers new revenue on the back of one of Scotland's biggest industries. We've worked with some of the country's leading whisky producers to develop the process," says Martin Tangney, director of the Biofuel Research Center.
The process has currently only been tested in 5 liter vessels, but the researchers' next step will be to scale the process up to vessels of 100 l. The university is planning to set up a spin-out company to commercialize the process.


Cereplast Cites Impact on Bioplastics Growth as European Commission Focuses on Bio-Based Initiatives

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Cereplast, Inc. , a leading manufacturer of proprietary bio-based, sustainable plastics, today cited that the bioplastics industry in Europe could experience even stronger growth rates when economic and policy measures are put in place.
According to a report from the "European Bioplastics Association," the European branch association representing industrial manufacturers, processors and users of bioplastics and biodegradable polymers (BDP) and their derivative products, that is titled "Meeting Report of 15 July 2010, Brussels," the European Council, in consultation with the European Commission and the European Parliament, passed a new holistic strategic approach to guide EU politics in the coming decade: "Europe 2020 - A European Strategy for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth." Under the roof of this initiative, the "bio-economy" concept is seen as a key element to reach the diverse political goals of EU policy makers: jobs, growth, climate protection, innovation, solution for finiteness of industrial raw materials and a sustainable agriculture policy.
On July 15, 2010, industry experts met in Brussels to discuss possible market developments for bio-based products with or without the implementation of political measures. The goal was to devise a common position towards the European Commission in setting ambitious but realistic indicative targets for the different bio-based product categories such as biolubricants and biopolymers. European Bioplastics contributed actively to the discussion with a letter to the Commission and developed a market forecast based on available market research and the expertise of its member companies for input into the "Europe 2020" strategy. European Bioplastics estimates the 2020 market potential for bioplastics will be a factor of 3 times greater if effective policy support measures are put in place. Specifically, European Bioplastics estimates 770,000 metric tons of bioplastics production without political support and 2,550,000 tons with supporting political measures. The latter would represent an increase in bioplastics market share from its current 0.5% to 5% within ten years.
"Countries in Europe are working to find a solution to sustainable development that makes sense not only on an economic level, but on a political and environmental level as well," said Frederic Scheer, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Cereplast, Inc. "Currently, about 40% of our exports are to Europe, and there are numerous possibilities there as the European market is growing at a pace that is outpacing supply. This is due to stricter regulations, such as those that ban the use of traditional plastic bags, and increasing environmental concerns over the impact of oil-based plastics. Due to the limited amount of crude oil reserves in Europe, we believe the region is poised to become one of the most important markets as companies in many industries increase investment in bioplastics."

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New ISO methodology demystifies nanomaterials

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From new medical applications, to the latest gadgets and consumer products, innovative nanotechnology is pushing the boundaries of what we believed possible. But for this technology to develop further, faster and better we need a clear understanding and a logical classification of nanomaterials. 
ISO has therefore published a new technical report, ISO/TR 11360:2010, Nanotechnologies – Methodology for the classification and categorization of nanomaterials, offering a comprehensive, globally harmonized methodology for classifying nanomaterials.

Nanotechnology deals with structures between 1 to 100 nanometers. Applications are wide, and range from computer memory storage to sunscreens. Nanomaterials currently in existence exhibit various physical, chemical, mechanical, optical, magnetic and biological properties, as well as different internal/external structures.

Because scientists and researches in this new field have very diverse backgrounds, and are working on different applications, there are now many divergent understandings and assumptions associated with emerging scientific concepts in this area. This is causing poor communication, lack of interoperability among systems and duplication of efforts.

ISO/TR 11360 introduces a system called the “nano-tree”, which places nanotechnology concepts into a logical context by indicating relationships among them as a branching out tree. The most basic and common elements are defined as the main trunk of the tree, and nanomaterials are then differentiated in terms of structure, chemical nature and other properties.

“The document provides users with a structured view of nanotechnology, and facilitates a common understanding of its concepts,” says Peter Hatto, Chair of the committee that developed the standard (ISO/TC 229). “It offers a systematic approach and a commonsensical hierarchy”.

Dr. Hatto adds, “The benefits for this emerging field are enormous. Most importantly, ISO/TR 11360 will promote clear and useful communication amongst industry consumers, governments and regulatory bodies”.
The document will be useful to a wide range of scientific and engineering disciplines engaged in research, industry and government.


BPI Certifies as Compostable a Series of Starch-Blend Compounds from Teknor Apex for Film, Sheet, and Molded Parts

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Blends of thermoplastic starch (TPS) and biodegradable copolyester (PBAT) recently introduced by Teknor Apex Company have received certification by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) as products for commercial composting applications, it was announced today by the Bioplastics Division of Teknor Apex.
Terraloy™ 20000 Series compounds received the BPI Listing after passing requirements specified in the ASTM D6400 standard for plastics intended for composting. The listing applies to sheet, film, and thermoformed or molded parts with maximum thickness of 250 mils (0.250 in.).
Teknor Apex recommends the compounds for replacing polyolefins and polystyrene in applications such as shrink wrap, produce wraps and trays, cosmetics jars and containers, carrier bags, can liners, trays and plates, cutlery, and flower pots.

“Because 100% TPS biodegrades much more rapidly than 100% PBAT, the blends of these materials making up the Terraloy 20000 Series open new applications for PBAT,” said Edwin Tam, Teknor Apex manager of strategic initiatives. “Plastics processors can use Terraloy compounds to produce thicker sheet and parts than with PBAT alone and still meet requirements for compostability.”

BPI is a professional association of individuals and groups from government, industry and academia that promotes the use and recycling of biodegradable polymeric materials via composting, noted executive director Steve Mojo. “Compostable products make it possible to divert the waste stream away from landfills or incinerators, and replacing non-degradable products with compostable ones helps reduce the processing, separation, and disposal costs incurred by composting facilities.”

Big energy savings claimed for Eldorado’s first 100 per cent RPET water bottle

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Colorado-based Eldorado Artesian Springs has developed the product over the past eight years using recycled plastic. Known as rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate) the new bottles are made from plastic previously used as packaging. Virgin PET is made mainly from natural gas feedstock.
The company’s vice president marketing, Jeremy Martin told “Using our RPET bottles, we are able to lower our impact on the environment drastically by keeping plastic out of the waste stream and lowering our carbon footprint. By using 100 per cent RPET, we save 77 per cent of the energy required to produce a virgin PET bottle.”

Greenhouse gas emissions
Adopting 100 per cent RPET bottles will reduce the company’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 58 per cent, according to NAPCOR (National Association for PET Container Resources).
After considering the use of corn-based plastics and biodegradable bottles, Eldorado chose to focus on RPET because it said this had fewer negative attributes then either of the other options.
Commenting on the bottle’s development potential, Martin said: “Right now, we are a very regional company but the largest seller of Colorado spring water. With our new RPET bottle we feel that we have the opportunity to expand our volume as well as our distribution area.”
Eldorado says the RPET used in its new bottle is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and meets the same safety standards as virgin plastic bottles.
The company also uses solar power in its manufacturing processes. Last September it installed a 100 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system that generates about half the firm’s energy needs.

Plant waste
About 96 per cent of its plant waste, including cardboard, paper and plastic, is recycled.
Meanwhile, last July two US food and beverage producers claimed to be the first in their respective sectors to switch to 100 per cent rPET packaging.
Naked Juice has said it would use 100 per cent post-consumer recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PCR PET) plastic in its Naked reNEWable bottle.
And Earthbound Farm said it was the first in the fresh-cut salad sector to manufacture plastic clamshell packing from rPET.
At the end of last year, Canadian company Naya Spring Water claimed to be the first bottled spring water company in the world to use 100 percent recycled plastic in its bottles.
Nearly 6bn pounds of PET packaging waste was generated in 2007, with only 23 per cent recycled into new products, according the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). More than 4.5bn pounds of PET was sent to landfill sites.

Source:  Food production Daily (

Aussie coffee company launches 100% PLA cup

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Espresso Syndicate, a company that supplies sustainable, organic fair trade coffee to cafes across Melbourne, Australia, has launched PLAnet Cup, a disposable, compostable coffee cup and lid that complements the company’s existing fair trade offering. The paper cup is lined with biodegradable polylactic acid, which is harvested from renewable resources and can be composted after use. Where forerunners have retained a plastic lid, the PLAnet Cup is entirely compostable, from the cup to the innovative bioplastic lid.
Espresso Syndicate owner Melissa Floreani developed the product after identifying a gap in the market. "As a coffee supplier, I was frustrated that I couldn't provide my customers with a genuinely eco-conscious disposable cup,” she says. “Modern consumers want to limit the impact that they are having on the world, but they want this to fit with their lifestyles too. With PLAnet Cup, cafes can provide their customers with an easy way to preserve their green conscience without sacrificing their treat-to-self.”
The PLAnet Cup has a lid made from biodegradable plant-derived material that is 100% compostable. The PLAnet Cup can be supplied to any cafe either preprinted with individual branding or as a white cup with minimal branding, accommodating the current trend for white cups with an ink logo stamp, the company says.
Steve Boyle, owner of Orange Café on Chapel St, Windsor (VIC), is currently using the PLAnet Cup. He notes, “Modern consumers genuinely care about the green credentials of the companies they buy from, and the PLAnet Cups we’re using have been received well by our customers. In my opinion, you can’t be a retailer today and not exhaust all eco platforms."

Vegware becomes UK's first for 100% compostable food packaging

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Vegware Ltd, the Edinburgh-based eco packaging firm founded in 2006, has become the UK’s first ever packaging company whose entire product range is compostable and therefore suitable for organics recycling. By launching three new products, Vegware has completed its range and become the UK’s first ever provider of exclusively compostable catering disposables and takeaway packaging.
The launch features a trio of new compostable products for the food-to-go sector, all of which are unique on the UK market. These are high heat-resistant cutlery; a compostable soup container and lid set; and a genuinely compostable insulated coffee cup, made locally from EU materials.
Asked about which materials are being used, Lucy Frankel, PR and marketing executive, told Packaging Europe "The compostable cutlery is made from a proprietary PLA blend which makes the material stable at higher temperatures. The cup is made of an outer layer of high-recycled-content paper and an inner layer of sustainably-sourced paper board. The two layers are bonded together with a compostable resin and lined with GM-free cornstarch. The new soup container is made of a sturdy single wall construction with PLA cornstarch lining. The paper board is from a sustainable source and the matching lid is made of cornstarch bioplastic."
Since it was founded in 2006, Vegware has been working on offering a full product range which is compostable and therefore suitable for organics recycling. Founder and MD, Joe Frankel, explained, “Biodegradable materials do break down naturally over time, but the term ‘compostable’ means it all happens much quicker – under 180 days in the right conditions. It has taken years of R&D, but now our full range can be commercially composted together with food waste rather than go to landfill. It’s really exciting – now we can help our clients to save money with sustainable waste management as well as saving carbon and virgin materials. And of course we’re delighted to be eco market leaders.”
Yearly increases in landfill tax mean that from April 2011, commercial composting will become the cheaper option. The company works closely with the organics recycling sector and offers a UK-wide composting collection service for mixed packaging and food waste. After 6-12 weeks, the waste is reprocessed into compost, or biogas and topsoil.
The company reports that despite the current challenging economic climate, business is going well. They will be moving to larger premises and hiring new staff to cope with demand. Vegware has won several awards this year including its compostable hot cup lid winning ‘Best Disposables’ and a Green category commendation in the prestigious Caterer and Hotelkeeper Excellence Awards.
"The first major user for our compostable soup containers will be Otarian, the new international chain offering low-carbon healthy food in London and New York," concludes Lucy Frankel.
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Panasonic and Teijin to Develop Heat Resistant PLA Compound

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Panasonic Electric Works Co., Ltd. and Teijin Limited announced today their joint development of a highly heat-resistant polylactide (PLA) molding compound made 80% from plant-based renewable feedstock and providing significantly reduced molding cycle time of around half that of conventional PLA compounds.
From this month, Panasonic Electric Works will begin selling the new material as its MBA900H PLA molding compound for use in the housings of cell phones and other mobile devices and digital consumer electronics. The initial goal is 1,000 tons of annual production by fiscal 2012 ending in March 2013.
The bioplastic used in the MBA900H is Teijin's BIOFRONTTM, a highly heat-resistant PLA with a melting point of at least 210°C, which is significantly higher than that of conventional PLA. BIOFRONTTM also shows better hydrolytic stability and achieves semi-crystallization in just 20-25% of the time required with conventional PLA.
Panasonic Electric Works successfully developed the MBA900H molding compound using its proprietary compound-design and production technologies. The new material has been proven in testing conducted by the company to shorten molding cycle time by roughly half compared to conventional PLA compounds.
Efforts to shift from oil-based to biomass-based plastics are increasing as companies look for ways to help protect the global environment and create sustainable societies. Bioplastics, for example, are being used increasingly in consumer electronics, automotive interiors and other areas, but conventional PLA has low heat resistance and limited injection-molding capability because of its longer molding cycle time. Molding compounds have been developed by mixing PLA with oil-based plastics, but attaining the desired levels of heat resistance and moldability has required a high ratio of oil-based plastic.
The MBA900H solves these problems as a molding compound that combines high biomass ratio with superior heat resistance and moldability.

From this month, Panasonic Electric Works will begin selling the new material as its MBA900H PLA molding compound for use in the housings of cell phones and other mobile devices and digital consumer electronics. The initial goal is 1,000 tons of annual production by fiscal 2012 ending in March 2013.
The bioplastic used in the MBA900H is Teijin's BIOFRONTTM, a highly heat-resistant PLA with a melting point of at least 210°C, which is significantly higher than that of conventional PLA. BIOFRONTTM also shows better hydrolytic stability and achieves semi-crystallization in just 20-25% of the time required with conventional PLA.
Panasonic Electric Works successfully developed the MBA900H molding compound using its proprietary compound-design and production technologies. The new material has been proven in testing conducted by the company to shorten molding cycle time by roughly half compared to conventional PLA compounds.
Efforts to shift from oil-based to biomass-based plastics are increasing as companies look for ways to help protect the global environment and create sustainable societies. Bioplastics, for example, are being used increasingly in consumer electronics, automotive interiors and other areas, but conventional PLA has low heat resistance and limited injection-molding capability because of its longer molding cycle time. Molding compounds have been developed by mixing PLA with oil-based plastics, but attaining the desired levels of heat resistance and moldability has required a high ratio of oil-based plastic.
The MBA900H solves these problems as a molding compound that combines high biomass ratio with superior heat resistance and moldability.


United States Patent Awarded for Polylactic Acid Shrink Film and Methods of Manufacturing

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Plastic Suppliers,Inc. was awarded the U.S. 7,713,601 B2 patent for “Polylactic Acid Shrink Films and Methods of Casting Same.” The  receipt of this patent validates Plastic Suppliers’ as the only true manufacturer of a bio-based shrink sleeve label film.

Plastic Suppliers has worked diligently to develop the technology and product behind this patent. The EarthFirst® TDO product is currently being used in the shrink sleeve label and tamper evident band markets.


Cereplast Sees Growth Back in Market for Plastics Giants

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Cereplast, Inc.  commented today that increased growth rates for plastic giants such as DuPont and Alcoa combined with higher costs for crude oil bode well for the bioplastics industry as science-based initiatives and green technologies begin to lead the way and the economic recovery takes hold.
On July 27, DuPont reported better-than-expected EPS for the second quarter of 2010 as profits nearly tripled, driven by strong emerging market demand and sales of specialty chemicals. The recovery in demand and cost reduction helped the company beat Wall Street estimates of $0.94 per share for the second quarter as the company reported profit of $1.2 billion, or $1.26 per share, versus $0.41 for the same period a year ago, and raised estimates for 2010. Sales to the automotive and industrial markets, which consume such materials as plastic components, rubber tires and hoses, increased during the quarter. Earlier this month on July 12, aluminum maker Alcoa, which also manufactures a wide selection of extruded plastics, reported better-than-expected earnings that topped analysts' estimates. Second quarter earnings came in at $136 million, or $0.13 per share compared to loss of $454 million, $0.47 per share, for the same period last year. Analysts had expected $0.12 a share for the quarter. Both DuPont and Alcoa are Dow components whose earnings are closely watched.
"The traditional plastics industry is very large and rebounding from a slump in global demand as reflected by better-than-expected earnings from DuPont and Alcoa, and this bodes well for our industry," said Frederic Scheer, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Cereplast, Inc. "Plastics are everywhere, on the clothes we wear, in the cars we drive as well as in countless industrial applications, consumer goods and electronics. The necessity of having alternatives, such as our bio-resins, is making sense to a lot of plastics manufacturers, driven both by consumer demand and awareness of sustainable alternatives and cleaner, environmentally-friendly solutions to petroleum-based plastics."
Industry production and sales for plastics in 2009 rose less than 1% for all major resins types, following a 12% decline in 2008, which was the lowest annual amount since 2001, according to data from Standard & Poor's. Monthly production and sales comparisons for the last four months of 2009 were positive against the same period in 2008, which experienced the downturn in consumer demand during late 2008. Year-over-year production and sales trends for the major resins in the first four months of 2010 have continued to recover, the data provider said, with total production up 7.4% and sales growing 5.8% from their reduced levels in the 2009 quarter.
"We have a solid outlook for 2010 and expect to ship approximately 16 million pounds of bio-resins to our customers this year, representing a 400% increased compared to 2009," added Mr. Scheer. "Bioplastics have the benefit of being fully compostable and are a compelling choice as the cost structure quickly becomes competitive with petrochemical plastics and consumers demand sustainable solutions that protect the environment. We believe the rebound in growth of the plastics industry at large will be a tremendous benefit to our bio-based resins as demand for our products grows."

Source:  Cereplast