Natural Plastics

News about the bioplastics industry

Production Capacities for Bio - based Polymers in Europe - Status Quo and Trends towards 2020

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Europe’s current position in producing bio - based polymers is limited to a few polymers. However, new developments and investments are foreseen: the first European industrial-scale PLA plant by 2014, the introduction of future PET production facilities by 2015, recent developments in the commercialization of bio-based PBT and further advancements in the field of high-value fine chemicals for PA,PUR and thermosets production.

Although Europe shows a strong demand for bio-based polymers, production tends to take place elsewhere, namely in Asia and America. The European Union’s relatively weak position in the production of bio-based polymers is largely the consequence of an unfavourable political framework for the industrial material use of biomass.

The European market data presents the latest findings of production capacities of bio-based polymers in Europe based on the market study published by the nova-Institute in spring this year and its continuously updated database.

The “Bio-based Polymers Producer Database” shows that Europe’s situation in producing bio-based polymers is limited to just a few polymers. Europe has so far established a solid position mainly in the field of starch blends (blends of polymers with native starch or thermoplastic starch) and it is expected to remain strong in this sector for the next few years (see figure).

Nevertheless, new developments and investments are foreseen in Europe: some years after the installation of industrial scale PLA capacities in North America and Asia, the first European industrial-scale PLA plant is scheduled to become operational in 2014.

PET production is growing worldwide, largely due to the Plant PET Technology Collaborative (PTC) initiative, whose global value chain development will lead to the introduction of future production facilities in Europe by 2015.


Figure 1: Bio-based polymers: Evolution of production capacities in Europe from 2011 to 2020

(without Cellulose acetate and Thermosets)

One noteworthy finding of other studies is that Europe shows the strongest demand for bio-based polymers, while production tends to take place elsewhere, namely in Asia and South America. The bio-based polymer production facilities for PLA and PHA located in Europe are currently rather small, and although there are next to no production capacity figures for the latter, several pilot plants are already operating. On the other hand, bio-based PUR and PA production has gradually taken off in Europe and is likely to remain stable in order to supply the growing markets on the building and construction and automotive sectors. Europe does host industrial production facilities for PBAT (shown in figure). Although still fully fossil-based, PBAT is expected to be increasingly bio-based reaching shares of 50% by 2020, to judge by industry announcements and the capacity development of its bio-based precursors. Also for PBT (see table) recent developments in the production of bio-based 1.4 butanediol (BDO) have proven that the bio-based route to the polymer is commercially feasible and its production is planned to have started by 2020 (date not disclosed yet).

With leading chemical corporations, Europe has a particular strength and great potential in the fields of high-value fine chemicals and building blocks for the production of PA, PUR and thermosets among others. However, only few specific, large-scale plans for bio-based building blocks with concrete plans for the production of bio-based polymers have been announced to date.





EU: No dedicated policies to promote bio-based polymers The European Union’s relatively weak position in the production of bio-based polymers is largely the consequence of an unfavourable political framework. In contrast to biofuels, there is no European policy framework to support bio-based polymers, whereas biofuels receive strong and ongoing support during commercial production (quotas, tax incentives, green  electricity regulations and market introduction programmes, etc.). Without comparable support, bio-based chemicals and polymers will suffer further from underinvestment by the private sector. It is currently much more attractive and safe to invest in bio-based polymers in Asia, South America and North America.


The figure shows the production capacities for bio-based polymers except for thermosets and cellulose acetate. There is a simple reason for this: although good expert estimations of world thermoset and cellulose acetate production capacity are available, based on the global development of their bio-based precursors, it is not possible to break this information down by region. This study considers only announced capacities.


Download the full leaflet of the market study at: The figures included in this press release can be downloaded in high resolution

About nova-Institute
The nova-Institute was founded as a private and independent institute in 1994. It is located in the Chemical Park Knapsack in Hürth, which lies at the heart of the chemical industry around Cologne (Germany). For over 19 years now, the nova-Institute offers research and consultancy with a focus on bio-based and CO2-based economy. nova-Institute has been globally active in feedstock supply, techno-economic and environmental evaluation, market research, dissemination, project management and policy for a sustainable bio-based economy.
Source: nova-Institute at

GranBio and Rhodia sign partnership deal to produce bio n-butanol

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GranBio and Rhodia sign partnership deal in renewable chemicals GranBio, a Brazilian biotechnology company, and Rhodia, a Solvay Group company, have signed an agreement to create a partnership to produce bio n-butanol. Bio n-butanol is made from sugar cane straw and bagasse, the same raw material that is used to manufacture second-generation ethanol and which is abundant in Brazil.

Under the partnership, the companies plan to build the world's first biomass-based n-butanol plant in Brazil, which will enter into operation in 2015. Both companies will benefit from agreements that each of them has already made with companies that own the technology.

The project is a key step for GranBio and Rhodia in the manufacturing of chemicals made from renewable sources.
"The partnership with Rhodia is fully aligned with our business partnership model and our strategy to develop solutions that can replace fossil fuels and chemicals with renewable products," says Bernardo Gradin, CEO of GranBio.

"This innovative project reflects our focus on technologies based on renewable resources, and the partnership with Brazil's GranBio demonstrates our confidence in the country's great potential in this field," says Vincent Kamel, CEO of Coatis, a Solvay Group business unit based in Brazil.

An essential chemical in the production of acrylates and methacrylates, n-butanol is widely used in the paint and solvent industries, in which Solvay is South America’s market leader.
The investment in the biomass-based n-butanol plant requires the approval of the companies' boards. The structure of the agreement is to be submitted for clearance by Brazil's antitrust body, CADE.

Source: Solvay

NatureFlex™ Packaging Film Adopted by Fair Trade Tea Company

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Innovia Films’ compostable cellulose-based material, NatureFlex™ NVR, has been chosen by French company, Les Jardins de Gaïa to pack its range of organic teas in individual sachets.
Founded in 1994, Les Jardins de Gaïa is a Fair Trade, organic tea company based near Strasbourg.  As part of their philosophy of selling natural organic products, they wanted to wrap their tea in natural packaging.



The converter in this application is leading German-based tea packer TPS from Soltau.  Colourful designs distinguish Les Jardins de Gaïa teas from other tea packaging designs on the market.
According to Jean Baptiste Dubois, Marketing of Les Jardins de Gaïa, “We wanted to keep our product safe and in premium condition and do something that would stand out from the crowd.  NatureFlex™ films ensure we are proud of our packaging!”

“We were delighted to assist Les Jardins de Gaïa via TPS from Soltau, Germany in realising their sustainability goals.  Alongside the environmental benefits, NatureFlex™ films also offer a host of advantages for packing and converting such as inherent dead fold and anti-static properties, high gloss and resistance to grease and oil, good barrier to gases, aromas and mineral oils, a wide heat-seal range and easy opening,” stated Neil Banerjee, Market Developer, Innovia Films.

NatureFlex™ was an obvious choice in this application as the film begins life as a natural product – wood - and breaks down at the end of its lifecycle in a home compost bin (or industrial compost environment) within a matter of weeks.  It is also confirmed as suitable for emerging 'waste to energy' techniques such as anaerobic digestion.

Source: Innovia Films

Corbion Purac at K 2013: unveiling PLA partnerships for new bioplastic applications

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k2013 logo Corbion Purac bioplastics will be exhibiting at the K trade fair in Dusseldorf under the theme 'partnering for bioplastics growth'. To highlight the most recent developments in PLA (Poly Lactic Acid), Corbion Purac will be exhibiting a number of biobased applications resulting from numerous strategic partnerships. Corbion Purac has teamed up with esteemed partners in a number of industries, including packaging, automotive, home interiors and sporting goods, and will be showcasing the resulting applications in Hall 5, stand 5B22.

In addition to final PLA articles, Corbion Purac will also be displaying a distributor's corner, intended to provide a platform for interested parties to come into direct contact with their local PLA resin partner. To this end, Corbion Purac leverages its strategic partnerships to drive PLA innovation and stimulate increased bioplastic adoption throughout the value chain.

Understanding brandowner motivation
Corbion Purac is the global market leader in lactic acid, lactic acid derivatives and lactides. The breakthrough in high performance, biobased lactide monomers for PLA opens up a wealth of possibilities for bioplastic applications which have - until now - been limited to oil-based plastics. Combining high biocontent with a low carbon footprint, PLA is a great replacement for PS, PP and ABS.  This offers brandowners a unique opportunity to be a sustainability frontrunner in their field, whether it be in terms of product packaging or primary product materials. Corbion Purac's understanding of key sustainability drivers provides a strong basis for brandowner collaborations.

Processing expertise for article converters
As demonstrated by the range of applications on show, PLA is an extremely adaptable material that can often be processed on existing equipment, with commercially acceptable cycle times. Corbion Purac welcomes converters and compounders who are interested in learning more about PLA processing. The technical team will be on hand at the fair to discuss and exchange PLA processing experience, from sheet extrusion and thermoforming, to injection molding and foaming.

Source: Purac

Child Bicycle Carriers Made From Cereplast Bioplastics

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MammaCangura by Bellelli, a world leader in the design and manufacture of child bicycle carriers and trailers, is launching a line of child bicycle carriers made from Cereplast Biopropylene® 101.
MammaCangura is manufacturing two child bicycle carriers made from Cereplast Biopropylene 101: FRECCIA ECO, a front-mounted child bicycle carrier, and MR FOX ECO, a rear-mounted child bicycle carrier. Initially, both carriers will be available for retail sale and purchase by MammaCangura North America at brick and mortar retailers in Canada, and online at

 Made from a non-toxic bioplastic frame, FRECCIA ECO is lightweight, solid and washable, featuring big-feet-shaped footrests, a secure handlebar for the child to play with, wide ventilation slots on the back and shoulders, a soft, removable and washable seat pad, a three-point length-adjustable harness, wider and safer legs/feet side protection to avoid contact with any parts of the bike, a child-proof, parent-friendly, one-hand fasten and release safety buckle with two depth settings, a wide, comfortable seat with high sideboards to increase child support and containment and a one-click, easyon/easy-off protection handle.

MR FOX ECO Made from a non-toxic bioplastic frame, MR FOX ECO is lightweight, durable and washable and features an ergonomic backrest with an integrated helmet slot to ensure maximum support and comfort to the child’s back and neck, a heightlength-depth-adjustable five-point harness, higher and safer sideboards, a soft, removable, washable seat pad, a childproof, parent-friendly one-hand fasten and release safety buckle with two depth settings in the seat center, broad footrest settings and four-position, length adjustable foot straps, a wide, comfortable seat, high sideboards to increase child support and containment and wider and safer legs/feet side protection to avoid any contact with wheel spokes.

The MammaCangura FRECCIA ECO and MR FOX ECO are made from Cereplast Biopropylene 101, which offers a lower carbon footprint when compared to conventional plastics. A third party lifecycle assessment (LCA) of Cereplast Biopropylene 101* determined that this grade of bioplastic resin is superior to all conventional plastics evaluated in terms of overall environmental impact. The LCA compared Cereplast Biopropylene 101 bioplastic to four different conventional
plastics including Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE), Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) and Polypropylene (PP), and provided a rating for each product’s cumulative environmental impact including climate change, ozone layer depletion, and ecotoxicity.

The reduction in Global Warming Potential for Biopropylene 101 compared to conventional Polypropylene (PP) is 32%. When you replace 1,000,000 pounds of conventional PP with Biopropylene 101, the environmental impact reduction is 800,000 pounds of CO2 eq., which is equivalent to driving 732,800 miles in an average passenger vehicle, or driving around the world more than twenty-nine times. If 0.1% of the global demand for PP was replaced with Hybrid 101, that’s the same as removing 5,100 cars from America’s roads or planting 1,200,000 trees, which would save millions of pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
Source: Cereplast

Cereplast and Bioplastics: The Next Five Years

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Cereplast, Inc.a leading manufacturer of proprietary biobased, compostable and sustainable bioplastics, today is providing an outlook on the bioplastics industry over the next five years and the Company’s growth opportunity within this market.

In 2012, the total addressable market for conventional plastics was $1 Trillion. Cereplast believes that the bioplastics market will represent 30% of the overall plastics industry within the next 25 years as a result of the need to find alternative feedstock to replace limited and cost-increasing fossil resources. Of this $1 Trillion, the bioplastics industry is expected to represent $10 billion by the year 2020. Although a significant percentage of that market will likely be controlled by the large chemical companies, as a pioneer in the bioplastics space with a strong intellectual property portfolio, Cereplast’s goal is to capture approximately $300 million of the marketplace by 2020.

Cereplast is focused on two key bioplastic market segments: compostable bioplastics and biobased bioplastics:

Cereplast Compostables® resins replace nearly 100% of the petroleum-based additives used in traditional plastics and are used for single-use disposables and packaging including cups, straws, cutlery and bags. These resins are biodegradable by industrial composting meeting the United States and European standards for compostability and will biodegrade within 180 days when disposed of in an industrial composting facility. Many grades have BPI and/or DIN Certco certification. The main market driver for compostable grades globally is legislation that bans the use of conventional plastics for single-use disposable items such as plastic bags. It is anticipated that this type of legislation will continue to increase around the world in the coming years as countries and local municipalities alike try to tackle the inherent problems associated with the use of conventional plastics in their areas.

Cereplast Sustainables® resins replace up to 95% or more of the petroleum content used in traditional plastics and provide a lower carbon footprint for durable applications such as automotive, consumer goods, fashion accessories, consumer electronics, medical packaging, cosmetics packaging, toys, furniture, office supplies, home accessories and construction. The Cereplast Sustainables resins include the Cereplast Bio-polyolefins® grades, as well as Ethylene Acrylate, Polylactic Acid and Polypropylene-filled biobased resins. The market drivers for biobased grades are a desire to reduce dependence on fossil resources such as petroleum, as evidenced by the USDA Biobased Preferred program in the United States, as well as in an effort for companies to produce more sustainable products that provide a lower carbon footprint compared to products made with conventional plastics.

The Cereplast intellectual property portfolio consisting of more than 20 patents and patent applications in the USA and worldwidefor both key market segments is very strong, and places the Company at a competitive advantage today and into the future.Today the Company is focused on further developing its business in Europe, North America and Asia.

Source: Cereplast

What if plants could be plastic factories?

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The greenhouse at Metabolix’s lab is full of grass. That would be unexciting, except that the 300 or so pots of switchgrass growing here have been genetically engineered to produce a kind of polymer used to make plastics.

Metabolix, a bioplastics company founded in 1992, is one of a small group of companies and universities pushing at a new frontier in bioplastics: the genetic engineering of crops to produce plastics materials. The efforts – unique in making bioplastics not from, but in, crops – put forward a solution to the longstanding problem in bioplastics: how to make the production costs of bioplastics as cheap as, or cheaper than, oil-based plastics.

The answer, these scientists say, is in plants: What if crops, planted in droves in US farm fields, could become quiet, tiny plastics factories, churning out all the plastics we need?

But that, of course, raises another question: Is that even possible?

Bioplastics, simply put, are plastics made from renewable biomass resources as opposed to fossil fuels. Billed as a potentially cheaper and more sustainable alternative to conventional oil-produced plastics, bioplastics is a fledgling industry, and, so far, both eco-friendliness and cheapness have not been achieved in one product.

At the moment, bioplastics are often made from corn, a controversial wing of the industry, as studies have found that the fallout from the chemical use that goes into growing the corn outweighs the potential environmental benefits of using corn-based plastic. Other means of producing bioplastics, such as using bacteria to ferment sugars into polymers, remain more expensive than using fossil fuels, given the vast industrial infrastructure that supports conventional plastics-making.

In short, the big problem in bioplastics is much the same as it is throughout the entire bioindustrial field: eco-friendly, in the short term at least, is not cheap.

“It all comes down to a bottom line: Bioplastics won't ever be competitive with petro-chemical plastics if their cost is higher,” said Stevens Brumbley, a professor of molecular biology at the University of North Texas whose team works with sugar cane-derived plastics and shares funds and findings with Metabolix.

In 2001, Metabolix bought GMO giant Monsanto’s decade of research on using plants to make plastics. That year, the company began tinkering with the genome of switchgrass – a grass that Oliver Peoples, a former researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the founder of Metabolix, says meets all the conditions for it to be deployed toward plastics production. Switchgrass is a perennial crop with a high tolerance for erratic weather, it has a high biomass and, for the moment, it does not contribute to the human food supply, meaning that it won’t be missed if fields of it are marshaled toward plastics-making.

“It just fundamentally makes sense,” said Dr. Peoples. “What’s the most abundant source of carbon? Carbon dioxide. What are the most efficient fixers of carbon dioxide? Plants.”

But what is simple in theory is, it turns out, difficult in practice. Plants are good at turning carbon dioxide into sugar, not into compounds for plastics.

So turning the plant into a small plastics manufacturer requires some high-tech genetic engineering. That begins with modifying switchblade grass cells to have three genes that produce a compound called polyhydroxybutyrate, or PHB. Those genes are borrowed from the soil-based bacteria that are at the moment used to produce much of the PHB used in bioplastics engineering.

"In this field, being called crazy is a compliment,” said Maria Somleva, a researcher at Metabolix, as she held a warm petri dish dotted with cell cultures modified to, well, behave a bit like bacteria.

After a few weeks, those cells begin to grow a tiny, pinprick-sized sprout of green: a new plant. Once big enough, the plants are bagged and transferred to the lab’s greenhouse to be potted. There, they’ll grow into tall, pale green grass with seed-laced fibers dangling elegantly from the tips, producing in their thin stalks not just glucose but PHB.

Source: The Christian Science Monitor.

Pancake Parlour Restaurants lead the way with a "go green strategy"

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logos BLACK on WHITE combinedThe Melbourne Pancake Parlour Restaurants lead the way with a ”go green strategy” to lower their carbon footprint using Cardia’s environmentally friendly customer carrier bags and in-store waste management for garbage bags.

The Pancake Parlour restaurants in collaboration with Cardia Bioplastics Limited (Cardia) will implement a “go green strategy” that will reduce the carbon footprint of its Melbourne restaurants and at the same time provide an environmental benefit by using Cardia’s compostable and Biohybrid™ bioplastics technology based products.

The go green strategy will allow The Pancake Parlour to lower its carbon footprint by no longer providing conventional carrier bags to its customers and will no longer use conventional waste garbage bags in its restaurants. Instead, Cardia will supply compostable carrier bags to The Pancake Parlour restaurants and these bags will be given to customers for the take-away business. The restaurants will also introduce Cardia’s Biohybrid™ waste garbage bags that use less oil and have a lower carbon footprint, for use in its kitchens.

Cardia’s Chairman Mr Pat Volpe said, “The Pancake Parlour has assessed the use of conventional plastic bags and packaging in their restaurants and introduced a self-imposed ban on conventional plastic bags. Cardia analysed the uses of conventional plastic packaging and bags in the Pancake Parlour restaurants and formulated a solution where the carbon footprint of each store can now be reduced and at the same time provide environmentally friendly bags and packaging,” he said.

The Pancake Parlour CEO, Mr Simon Meadmore said, “Times have changed and whilst State and Local Governments in Australia are taking the right steps to ban plastic bags, providers of plastic bags to customers must now act and take the lead ahead of Government legislation. The Pancake Parlour will provide its customers with carrier bags that are certified to compost back into the earth as water and carbon dioxide as required by international composting standards. This new technology has the potential to rid the world of plastic bags that cause so much damage to our environment and take hundreds of years to decompose,” he said.

“I have also reviewed the total plastic usage in my restaurants and was amazed by the amount of oil that goes into plastic packaging and how much Cardia Bioplastics’ products can reduce the oil equivalents in their products,” he said.

“I now have a strategy for our restaurants to replace plastics with Cardia’s compostable and Biohybrid™ products that use less oil, have a lower carbon footprint and protect our environment.

The Pancake Parlour is pleasantly surprised with the diversified range of Cardia’s portfolio of products in its offering and the numerous applications that extend beyond just plastic bags.” he said.

Mr Meadmore also said “I am currently assessing the next stage of our “go green policy” where we are looking at Cardia’s waste management system that will provide on-site composting facilities and can now prevent our food waste from going to landfill, which causes the creation of harmful methane gases.

Our strategy will be to divert this waste to our own onsite composting facility that will convert this food waste to fertilizer to be used on The Pancake Parlour gardens at restaurants.”

“If our planet is serious about reducing reliance on the use of oil and protecting the environment from harmful plastics, then you do not have to look far to find alternative renewable and sustainable products manufactured by Cardia.” he said.

The Pancake Parlour restaurants in Melbourne, plan on introducing their new environmentally friendly bioplastics range of carrier bags and Biohybrid™ waste garbage bags from the 1st of September 2013.

Building a Bio-based Economy for Europe for 2020

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The vision of a society that is far less dependent on fossil fuels for energy and industrial raw materials is closer than ever to becoming a reality in Europe. The application of biotechnology for the sustainable processing and production of chemicals, materials and fuels from biomass creates an opportunity to reduce significantly our dependence on coal, oil and gas. That vision and that opportunity have a name: the bio-based economy.

With its new Europe 2020 strategy, the EU has created a framework through which to achieve an ambitious series of goals – economic, social and environmental – by the end of this decade. The growth of bio-based products opens up diverse pathways towards the achievement of these goals.

Greater use of renewable and expandable resources offers increased potential for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Production processes that use less water and energy and generate less waste can make industry both more sustainable and more competitive. And the creation of new non-food markets for crops, together with the emergence of alternative income sources for farmers, can give depressed rural areas a new lease of life.

Yet while these opportunities are real, much remains to be done before Europe can benefit fully from the advantages of a competitive bio-based economy. Therefore:

-There must be improved access to renewable raw materials for industrial use, at competitive prices.

-Research must be more targeted, and we must reduce the distance between the laboratory and the marketplace for innovative new products.

-We must use all the tools at our disposal, especially public procurement, to kick-start the market for new bio-based products.


Sustainable packaging market to reach $244 billion by 2018

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Leatherhead, UK. The global market for sustainable packaging is forecast to reach $244 billion by 2018, according to a new market report from Smithers Pira, the worldwide authority on the paper, packaging and print industry supply chains.


Based on primary research and expert analysis The Future of Sustainable Packaging to 2018 details market sizes, projections and five-year market forecasts to 2018. The study focuses on key drivers, trends and technologies shaping the sustainable packaging industry. It also breaks down sales by type, end-use market and geographic region, and provides comprehensive coverage of the global market and supply chain.

Sustainability programmes are increasingly being seen as a source of innovation that can help in differentiating a company by appealing to the consciences of consumers. These programmes also serve as a platform for new product and market development.


Consumer demand and government legislation around the world are the leading drivers for the sustainable packaging agenda. Environmental awareness among a growing population of consumers is fuelling demand for sustainability and the reduction of the impact of packaging on the environment.


According to the study, the most common trends in sustainable packaging are:

- Downsizing/lightweighting of packaging
- Increased recycling and waste recovery
- Increased use of recycled content
- Increased use of renewably sourced materials
- Improvements in packaging and logistical efficiency


In the recycled material packaging segment, paper packaging is the largest market, followed by metal, glass, and plastic. The demand for recycled plastics remains strong, but the material faces several challenges, including lack of infrastructure for collection and sorting, international market competition for existing recovered materials and compliance with requirements related to food and drug content.


The biggest growth comes from the Asian market, driven by demand for sustainable packaging in countries like China and India. Boosted by a growing middle-class population that is increasingly becoming affluent and conscious of health and environmental issues, the demand for sustainable practices is driving the market for greener packaging. In 2018, Smithers Pira forecasts that Asia will be the largest market for sustainable packaging, accounting for 32% of the overall market.








According to the study, the issue of sustainable packaging will continue to grow in importance over the decade to 2023 and is predicted to become the number one challenge facing companies, beating cost and other issues by 2023.


source: Smithers Pira