Natural Plastics

News about the bioplastics industry

consumer pressure and legislation will increase demand for biodegradable polymers (plastics) in North America, Europe and Asia

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According to a new IHS Chemical (NYSE: IHS) global market research report, mounting consumer pressure and legislation such as plastic bag bans and global warming initiatives will increase demand for biodegradable polymers (plastics) in North America, Europe and Asia from 269 thousand metric tons (KMT) in 2012 to nearly 525 KMT in 2017, representing an average annual growth rate of nearly 15 percent during the five-year period 2012-2017.

The IHS Chemical CEH Biodegradable Polymers Marketing Research Report focuses on biodegradable polymers, including compostable materials, but not necessarily including all bio-based products. Biodegradable polymers are a part of the larger overall bio-plastics market. Typically, bio-plastics are either bio-based or biodegradable, although some materials are both.


In terms of biodegradable polymer end-uses, it is estimated that the food packaging (including fast-food and beverage containers), dishes and cutlery markets are the largest end-uses and the major growth drivers. In both North America and Europe, these markets account for the largest uses and strong, double-digit growth is expected in the next several years. Foam packaging once dominated the market and continues to represent significant market share for biodegradable polymers, behind food packaging, dishes and cutlery. Compostable bags, as well as single-use carrier plastic bags, follow foam packaging in terms of volume.


“The biodegradable polymers market is still young and very small, but the numbers are off the charts in terms of expected demand growth and potential for these materials in the coming years,” said Michael Malveda, principal analyst of specialty chemicals at IHS Chemical and the report’s lead author. “Food packaging, dishes and cutlery constitute a major market for the product because these materials can be composted with the food waste without sorting, which is a huge benefit to the waste management effort and to reducing food waste and packaging disposal in landfills. Increasing legislation and consumer pressures are also encouraging retailers and manufacturers to seek out these biodegradable products and materials.”


The report also noted that these biodegradable polymers offer expanding uses for biomedical applications. Another developing use for these biodegradable polymers is in the shale gas industry, where they are used during hydro-fracking as more environmentally friendly proppants to ‘prop open’ fractures in rock layers so oil and gas can be released.

In 2012, Europe was the dominant market for biodegradable polymers consuming 147 KMT or about 55 percent of world consumption; North America accounted for 29 percent and Asia approximately 16 percent. Landfill waste disposal and stringent legislation are key market drivers in Europe and include a packaging waste directive to set recovering and recycling targets, a number of plastic bag bans, and other collection and waste disposal laws to avoid landfill.


The most acceptable disposal method for biodegradable polymers is composting. However, composting requires an infrastructure, including collection systems and composting facilities. Composting has been a growing component of most  European countries’ municipal solid waste management strategies for some time, and the continent has an established and growing network of facilities, while the U.S. network of composting facilities is smaller, but expanding.


North American consumption of biodegradable polymers has grown significantly in recent years, according to the IHS report, primarily due to the following factors—biodegradable polymers have become more cost competitive with petroleum-based products, and there has been growing support at the local, state and federal levels for these products (for example, legislation defining biodegradability, and plastic bag bans). In addition, there has been progress in addressing issues relative to solid waste disposal, such as improving composting infrastructure.


Said Malveda, “A couple of main barriers to these biodegradable polymers are price and performance, which will become less significant as processing technologies improve, more applications for their use are developed, and production increases. Regulations such as plastic bag bans are being enacted in many countries, and this stimulates new research investments for alternative materials and new uses.”


In Asia, there has been some growth of biodegradable polymers use due to government and industry promoting their use. This also includes plastic bag bans and global warming initiatives. However, Asian consumption of biodegradable polymers has not increased as much as expected. Current market prices of biodegradable polymers continue to be higher than conventional, petroleum-based resins. However, the Chinese market is expected to grow rapidly due to new capacity and government legislation supporting the environment. Future growth will also depend on price reductions, Malveda said.


In 2012, the two most important commercial, biodegradable polymers were polylactic acid (PLA) and starch-based polymers, accounting for about 47 percent and 41 percent, respectively, of total biodegradable polymers consumption. Starch sources vary worldwide, but include corn, potatoes, cassava and sugar beets. In Europe, starch-based biodegradable polymers are the major type consumed, accounting for 62 percent of the market, due to Europe’s large, starch-based capacity and their use in many applications. This is followed by PLA, with 24 percent and other biodegradable polymer types with 14 percent.


Metabolix to Present Advances in Biopolymer Technology at ANTEC Conference

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Metabolix, Inc. (NASDAQ: MBLX), an innovation-driven bioscience company focused on delivering sustainable solutions for plastics, chemicals and energy, today announced that its researchers will make technical presentations at the ANTEC Conference being held April 22-25 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Metabolix researchers will present new data showing that its biobased PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate) copolymers significantly improve the mechanical, performance and environmental characteristics of the commercially significant polymers polylactide (PLA) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

"The demand for application specific products is an important trend in the biopolymers market and we are actively working to capitalize on it," said Richard P. Eno, president and chief executive officer, Metabolix. "Metabolix continues to drive innovation in the biopolymer market forward with technology advances that deliver valuable market applications for established industries across the globe."

"We are excited to share these test results showcasing the broad applicability of our PHA biopolymers for synergistically improving the characteristics of PLA and PVC," noted Bob Engle, vice president, business development, biopolymers, Metabolix. "The results detailed in our presentations represent the recent progression of our research and development activities, and have the potential for broadening the market opportunity for our biopolymers business."

Overview of Metabolix Presentations at ANTEC:
"Impact Modification of PLA using Biobased, Biodegradable Mirel PHB Copolymers"
Monday, April 22 at 9:00 a.m., Session M1 Bioplastics, Room 230
Allen Padwa will present data highlighting the use of Mirel PHB copolymers to improve the impact toughness of PLA without compromising the biobased carbon content and compostability of PLA. The results show that PHA can be blended with PLA to achieve a 20-fold increase in impact strength with modest decreases in tensile modulus. The balance of properties achieved with the blend rivals the performance of established engineering resins. The phase morphology and structure-property relationships of PLA/PHA blends will be discussed in the presentation.

"Modification of PVC with Biobased PHA Rubber, Part 2"
Tuesday, April 23 at 9:30 a.m., Session T16, Room 202
Yelena Kann, Ph.D., will present new data on the use of PHA polymeric modifiers to improve the mechanical and environmental performance of PVC. The presentation will describe the miscibility of PHA polymeric modifiers and their effect on plasticization, impact modification and flow promotion in flexible and semi-rigid PVC. In addition, data showing the resistance of PHA modified PVC to fungal growth, weatherization and biodegradation as compared to controls will be presented. Dr. Kann will also provide an overview of ongoing research in the use of PHA polymeric modifiers to improve rigid PVC formulations.

About Metabolix
Metabolix, Inc. is an innovation-driven bioscience company delivering sustainable solutions to the plastics, chemicals and energy industries. Metabolix is developing and commercializing a family of high-performance biopolymers targeted to the markets for film and bag applications, performance additives and functional biodegradation. Metabolix's biobased chemicals platform utilizes its novel "FAST" recovery process to enable the production of cost-effective, "drop-in" replacements for petroleum-based industrial chemicals. Metabolix is also developing a platform for co-producing plastics, chemicals and energy from crops. Metabolix has established an industry-leading intellectual property portfolio that, together with its knowledge of advanced industrial practice, provides a foundation for industry collaborations. 

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Rennovia launches hexamethylenediamine, enabling 100% Bio-Based Nylon-6,6

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Rennovia, Inc announced at the PCI 6th American Nylon Symposium that it has successfully demonstrated production of hexamethylenediamine (HMD) from widely available, renewable feedstocks. Coupled with Rennovia’s previously announced renewable adipic acid, this enables for the first time the production of 100% bio-based nylon-6,6 from monomers derived from bio-renewable feedstocks using chemical catalytic technology.


Rennovia’s HMD process employs proprietary catalyst technology developed using its advanced high-throughput catalyst discovery and development platform. “Practicing our HMD process at demonstration scale is the important next milestone for the company,” said Robert Wedinger, President and CEO of Rennovia. Production costs for Rennovia’s bio-based HMD are projected to be 20-25% below that of conventional petroleum-based HMD, with a significantly lower per-pound capital cost. Additional projected benefits include a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to conventional petroleum-derived HMD. “The development of our HMD process further validates Rennovia’s unique ability to create technological breakthroughs in the production of bio-based chemical products, with projected significant cost advantages vs. products produced from petroleum-based feedstocks” added Wedinger.


Rennovia has also been identified in an IHS report as the leading prospect for cost advantaged bio-based adipic acid production vs. conventional petroleum-based processes based on oxidation of cyclohexane, and more recently described processes employing fermentation. While noting that both the Rennovia and fermentation processes have yet to be scaled to commercial plants, which introduces some inherent uncertainties in the technical and economic analyses, the IHS Chemical Process Economics Program (PEP) Report #284 Bio-Based Adipic Acid concluded that Rennovia’s process offers lower projected cash and full production costs than the current, dominant petroleum-based process, and potential fermentation processes proposed to be under development.

“This study provides an external perspective consistent with our view that our chemical catalytic, bio-based adipic acid process is capable of offering lower production cost, lower per-pound capital requirements, and a more environmentally-friendly manufacturing process, when compared to conventional petrochemical processes and currently recognized fermentation processes,” said Robert Wedinger.


Rennovia’s adipic acid process employs proprietary catalyst technology developed using its advanced high-throughput catalyst discovery and development platform. Currently operating for more than a year at pilot scale, Rennovia has targeted demonstration-scale production of bio-based adipic acid in 2014, and anticipates first commercial-scale production in 2018.


In addition to the prospects of significantly reduced production and capital costs, Rennovia’s renewable adipic acid process is projected to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by over 85% compared with current petrochemical process technology.

Global production of adipic acid is over 6 billion pounds per year, from petroleum-derived benzene, with a global market of more than $6 billion, while over 3 billion pounds of HMD is currently produced per year from petroleum-derived propylene or butadiene, representing a global market of more than $4 billion.Both are used in the manufacture of nylon-6,6 for resin and fiber applications, as well as in polyurethanes. These are used in a wide range of consumer goods, including interior, exterior and under-the-hood automotive parts, coatings, tires, shoes, apparel, and carpeting.



Arkema Introduces a new range of biosourced polyamides

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Arkema, the world’s number 1 for specialty polyamides, expands its offering with Rilsan® T range, some new biosourced polyamide 10.10 processed from castor oil. Manufactured at its Serquigny facility in France, it benefits from unrivaled raw material integration, boosted by the recent acquisition of Casda and Hipro as well as a new joint venture with Jayant Agro.


Rilsan® T represents the only alternative to other long chain polyamides while benefiting from Arkema’s specialty polyamides differentiation in terms of innovation, quality and service.


Leadership sustained by unique integration

Arkema is the only chemicals manufacturer to offer expertise spanning over 60 years in the chemistry of castor oil, the raw material for its Rilsan® polyamide 11. This position was bolstered in 2012 by the acquisition of Chinese companies Casda, the world leader in sebacic acid derived from castor oil, and Hipro Polymers, which produces polyamides also from castor oil (Hiprolon® PA6.10, PA6.12, PA10.10, PA10.12), as well as the recent purchase of a stake in Ihsedu Agrochem, a subsidiary of Jayant Agro in India which specializes in the production of castor oil. Building on its unique integration and an already unsurpassed offering in high performance polyamides, Arkema has now enhanced its product range with Rilsan® PA.10.10 T processed from castor oil.


An unrivaled polyamide offering in the market

Arkema’s PA10.10 is the only polyamide to rank between PA6.10, PA6.12 on the one hand, and PA10.12, PA12, PA11 on the other, all of which are already part of Arkema’s product range. Over and above the well-known properties of long chain polyamides (chemical resistance, low moisture absorption, mechanical properties), Rilsan® T affords an excellent degree of rigidity (in particular when reinforced with glassfiber), thermal stability, permeability to petrol and gas, and processability, while consisting of up to 100% renewable carbon.

Rilsan® T also benefits from what sets Arkema’s polyamides apart in terms of technical possibilities (e.g. exclusive multilayer solutions for transport markets) and services (it qualifies for the exclusive RcycleTM offer of service which covers the collection, sorting and recycling of waste, and the development of a range of recycled polymers).


The various PA10.10 grades already available cover most applications in the field of transport (monolayer or multilayer brake lines for trucks and fuel lines for cars), industrial pipes, cables, and injection molded parts for sports or electronics applications.


« This innovation has been developed to meet the most pressing needs of our customers, who are looking for a credible alternative to high performance polyamides, but with specific thermomechanical properties. Thanks to our full integration, from raw material to polymers, we provide a solution that suits our customers’ medium to long term capacity and competitiveness needs », explains Lionel Guerdoux, Managing Director of the Specialty Polyamides business unit.

Scientists and technologists put spotlight on converting waste into bioplastics

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Scientists and technologists from 8 countries have kicked off a new EU-funded project that explores the conversion of different complex waste streams to valuable products such as bioplastics. SYNPOL1 has secured almost EUR 7.5 million in funding under the Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology theme of the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)


Led by the Spanish Biological Research Centre (CIB, Madrid) which is part of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), scientists and technologists from 8 academic and 6 industrial institutions are working together to produce biopolymers (e.g., polyhydroxyalkanoates [PHA] for bioplastic) from different waste streams (e.g., municipal solid waste, agricultural residues, sewage sludge from water treatment plants) via pyrolytic syngas production and subsequent bacterial fermentation.

From 2012 to 2016, the R&D activities of the SYNPOL consortium will focus on the integration of innovative physico-chemical, biochemical, downstream and synthetic technologies to produce a wide range of new biopolymers. The integration will engage novel and mutually synergistic production methods as well as the assessment of the environmental benefits and drawbacks. This integrative platform will be revolutionary in its implementation of novel microwave pyrolytic waste treatments coupled to fermentation techniques using systems-biology defined highly efficient and physiologically balanced recombinant bacteria. The latter will produce biopolymer building blocks and PHA that will serve to synthesize novel bio-based plastic prototypes by chemical and enzymatic catalysis.
“Two major advantages of the SYNPOL project are that the waste streams used for syngas production are not competing with those of the food value chain as is the case for the biodiesel production and that our final product, the bioplastic, that is produced biologically by bacteria will be 100% biodegradable”, said project manager Dr. Oliver Drzyzga from CIB-CSIC.

Thus, the SYNPOL platform will empower the treatment and recycling of complex biological and chemical wastes and raw materials in a single integrated process. The knowledge generated through this innovative biotechnological approach will not only benefit the environmental management of terrestrial wastes, but also reduce the harmful environmental impact of petroleum-based plastics.

“More than 25 million tons of plastics are disposed of annually in EU landfills or directly into the environment, posing a huge environmental burden due to their recalcitrance towards degradation”, said project coordinator and principle investigator Professor José Luis García López at the Environmental Biotechnology Division at CIB-CSIC. “Thus, there is a strong need for alternative processes to address the development and application of industrial biotechnologies for the conversion of waste materials into sustainable and cost-efficient bio-products such as new biopolymers.”

The SYNPOL project offers a timely strategic action that will enable the EU to lead worldwide the syngas fermentation technology for waste revalorisation and sustainable biopolymer production.

The project is coordinated by the CIB-CSIC in Spain. More information and news at

Wheylayer2 project was presented at the University of Maribor

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On the 9th of April 2013, the Wheylayer2 project was presented at the University of Maribor by the project coordinator Urška Sušnik Pivk, from Lajovic Tuba company.


Students of Economics and Business attended this presentation about the Wheylayer2 Demonstration Activity project as the follow-on phase from the very successful Wheylayer project that developed a biopolymer-coating based on whey protein for plastic films, from November 2008 to October 2011.


Wheylayer2 is focused on finalizing the industrialization steps prior to the commercialization of the developed whey protein coating for plastic films that could replace currently used expensive synthetic oxygen barrier layers and greatly improve the packaging sustainability.

European Bioplastics publishes data on land-use for bioplastics

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The surface required to grow sufficient feedstock for today’s bio plastic production is less than 0.006 percent of the global agricultural area of 5 billion hectares. This is the key finding published today by European Bioplastics, based on figures from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and calculations of the Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites (IfBB, University Hannover, Germany).


In a world of fast growing population with an increasing demand for food and feed, the use

of feedstock for non-food purposes is often debated controversially. The new brochure “ Bio

plastics - facts and figures” published today by European Bioplastics, moves the discussion

on to a factual level.


Of the 13.4 billion hectares of global land surface, around 37 percent (5 billion hectares) are

currently used for agriculture. This includes pastures (70 percent, approximately 3.5 billion

hectares) and arable land (30 percent, approximately 1.4 billion hectare).


These 30 percent of arable land are further divided into areas predominantly used to grow

crops for food and feed (27 percent, approximately 1.29 billion hectares), as well as crops for materials (2 percent, approximately 100 million hectares, including the share used for bioplas tics), and crops for biofuels (1 percent, approximately 55 million hectares).


Minimal fraction of land used for bioplastics

European Bioplastics market data depicts production capacities of around 1.2 million tonnes in 2011. This translates to approximately 300,000 hectares of land-use to grow feedstock for bioplastics. In relation to the global agricultural area of 5 billion hectares, bioplastics make use of only 0.006 percent. Metaphorically speaking, this ratio correlates to the size of an average cherry tomato placed next to the Eiffel Tower.


No competition to food and feed

A glance at the global agricultural area and the way it is used makes it abundantly clear: 0.006  percent used to grow feedstock for bioplastics are nowhere near being in competition with the  98 percent used for pastures and to grow food and feed.


According to European Bioplastics, increasing the efficiency of feedstock and agricultural

technology will be key to assuring the balance between land-use for innovative bioplastics

and land for food and feed. The emergence of reliable and independent sustainability assess

ment schemes will also contribute to this goal.

US injection moulding manufacturer “Highland Plastics” selects Cardia’s unique Bioplastics Technology.

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Cardia Bioplastics and Highland Plastics announce their cooperation on sustainable packaging systems for consumer and institutional applications. This collaboration follows a joint marketing launch at the West Pack Trade Show 2013 in Anaheim, USA.



Highland Plastics containers made with Cardia Biohybrid™ technology using
Highland’s injection moulded food grade plastic manufacturing facilities.

Highland Plastics is a USA manufacturer of injection moulded food grade plastic packaging for consumer and institutional applications and will now offer innovative packaging products with reduced dependence on finite oil resources and lower carbon footprint in line with a clear commitment to offering sustainable products and manufacturing processes now possible by the use of Cardia Biohybrid™ unique resin technology.”


Cardia Biohybrid™ proprietary technology combines renewable thermoplastics with polyolefin material to reduce dependence on finite oil resources and to reduce carbon footprint.

Highland Plastics President, Jim Nelson, said, “The combination of packaging performance,
environmental profile and cost effectiveness made Cardia Biohybrid™ technology the solution for Highland Plastics’ responsible packaging needs.Cardia’s Biohybrid™ technology fits into our strategy of being able to immediately offer our customers a responsible packaging offering providing a lower carbon footprint.”

Cardia Bioplastics has positioned itself to capitalise on the expected growth in the Bioplastic business fuelled by the global trend towards sustainable packaging. The collaborating with Highland Plastics is again further endorsement of Cardia’s diversified application of its resin technology adaptable to a broad range of packaging applications, including flexible film, injection moulding, blow moulding, foam, extrusion and coating applications. It gives customers the choice of using sustainable Cardia BiohybridTM technology (less oil, lower carbon footprint) or Cardia’s internationally certified Compostable technology for their packaging or plastic products.

The collaboration with Highland Plastics follows Cardia’s announcements of its supply agreements for compostable juicer bags with Breville in the U.S. and for Biohybrid™ kitchen waste bags with Shanghai Pudong City in China earlier this year.

Cello-Green(TM) Brand Compostable Beverage Straws Made From Cereplast Compostables(R) Resins by the Cello-O-Core(R) Company

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The Cello-Green brand Bio Straws are disposable with food waste—no separation is required—and will fully biodegrade in a municipal composting facility in 180 days or less. The Bio Straws are certified compostable by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) and are Cedar Grove approved. Designed and produced for use in cold beverages only, the straws are not recommended for use in hot beverages over 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The Bio Straws are available in green, white or red, and the straw wrappers are printed with water-soluble inks. Cereplast 7003 and the Bio Straws are made in the USA.




Cereplast Compostable 7003 is BPI certified for industrial compostability* of films and other extruded applications with a maximum thickness of 60 mils (1.50mm). Compostable 7003 has been designed to have an excellent balance of translucency, strength, toughness and processability. This resin can be processed on existing profile extrusion and cast lines and is recommended for profile extrusion applications including straws and similar applications.


Frederic Scheer, Chairman and CEO of Cereplast, stated, "We are proud to be working with an established US company such as Cell-O-Core. Based on current market trends, we anticipate the demand for the Bio Straws to grow significantly in the coming months and years. The Bio Straws can be disposed of and composted with food waste, making them a convenient fit for fast food chains and other restaurants that are making the move toward more sustainable waste removal at their establishments."