The eco-profile of a polymer gives information such as the total energy and raw materials consumed, and the total emissions to air, water, and soil from the cradle to the finished polymer pellet. An eco-profile is an essential input to any full life cycle assessment (LCA) conducted on consumer products made from that polymer. NatureWorks works closely with brand owners, manufacturers, universities, and other research groups in using life cycle assessment to compare the impact of various material types on products.
“Our most recent eco-profile in 2010 was calculated using the methodology, the modeling software, and core database in place at the time,” said Erwin Vink, Environmental Affairs Manager, NatureWorks. “The same approach was used by such industry organizations as Plastics Europe since the beginning of the nineties to calculate the eco-profiles for the fossil based polymers. However, LCA tools and databases have progressed in the past four years, and we decided it was time to recalculate the eco-profile based on those advancements.
“While the Ingeo manufacturing process remains the same, what has changed are the LCA software modeling tools and extensively broadened LCA databases and datasets, which give us the most up-to-date and accurate picture on the greenhouse gas emissions and other commonly used indicators in LCA.”
NatureWorks teamed with PE INTERNATIONAL, one of the world’s leading LCA consultants, basing the update on PE´s GaBi6.3 modeling software. PE INTERNATIONAL subsequently reviewed the methodology used, the final modeling work as well as the use of upstream data by NatureWorks, to determine the 2014 eco-profile and found that the company’s LCA process was scientifically and technically valid and consistent with ISO 14040 and 14044 standards for conducting LCAs.
The most recent recalculated eco-profiles for Ingeo, PP, PS, PET, and PC show smaller overall greenhouse gas emissions for each polymer compared to previous European industry data. The ranking of the polymers from lower overall environmental impact to higher overall impact remained the same.
Cradle-to-Gate Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The chart below compares the greenhouse gas emissions (including biogenic carbon uptake in the case of Ingeo) for Ingeo manufacture with the emissions resulting from the manufacture of a number of different polymers produced in the US and Europe using the latest available industry assessments for each. The numbers represent the totals for the first part of the life cycle of the polymers, starting with fossil or renewable feedstock production up to and including the final polymerization step.
Production Greenhouse Gas Emissions Including Biogenic Carbon Uptake1
The new Ingeo eco-profile information is expected to be available shortly in industry life cycle inventory databases. In the meantime, for further information, see the NatureWorks eco-profile page. In the near future, LCA practitioners interested in accessing the full eco-profile will be able to download it in such file formats as xls and GaBi.
For more information on NatureWorks and Ingeo, visit www.natureworksllc.com
Cardia Bioplastics Brazil commences retail carry bag production and wins new contracts equalling $1.5 million worth of annualised business
With the opening of the new production facility in São Paulo, Brazil, Cardia Bioplastics has already increased orders through new customers such as Minas Gerais supermarkets, including their high profile chain Mart Minas Supermarkets.
Cardia Brazil has secured important customer wins in advance of the annual AMIS trade show (Association of Minas Gerais Supermarkets) where Cardia will exhibit its product offering in October.
The timing for Cardia to set up production has been perfectly chosen. The market is responding very well to Cardia’s commitment, own operation, cost competitive, quality sustainable offering and service. With Cardia’s production capacity of 500 million bags per annum, the business is now in a strong position to meet increased customer demand.
Cardia Bioplastics has established itself over the last couple of years, as a reliable supplier of quality environmentally preferred retail carry bags to the Brazilian market, securing annual supply contracts with high profile Brazilian retailers.
Cardia Bioplastics Latin America Managing Director João Paulo Mignot stated, “We are thrilled with the market’s response to our new manufacturing facility. We continue to win new customers for our locally manufactured environmentally friendly Biohybrid™ and Compostable bags.”
João Paulo Mignot continues, “Our presence at the AMIS trade show will further showcase our Biohybrid™ and Compostable products and capability.”
Cardia Bioplastics Managing Director Dr. Frank Glatz stated, “We are already reaping the rewards of the establishment of Cardia’s own production facilities in Brazil. We have expanded our team to create a real presence in the Brazilian packaging market. With a quality sustainable offering our Biohybrid™ and Compostable bags are in high demand in the Brazillian market.”
The contract win follows the successful one-year trial of Cardia products in Nanjing’s various city districts and initial order placements of A$250,000 in February 2014. Nanjing Jianye District is the first city district to have moved forward with full commercial roll out of their organic waste diversion programme using Cardia products. Nanjing’s other district councils are at various stages of their trial programmes, with several councils expected to progress to full-scale implementation. With a population of over 6 million, Nanjing is actively moving towards organic waste diversion.
The win follows the recent expansion of Cardia’s production capability with a move to a new factory in Nanjing. The new factory has increased Biohybrid™ and Compostable bag making capacity to 100 million bags per year, meeting the increasing global demand for Cardia’s carry and waste management bags, hygiene and nappy films and custom products.
Dr. Frank Glatz, Managing Director of Cardia Bioplastics said: “We are very excited about the continued growth of the Nanjing Jianye District waste management programme. The success of winning these contracts is a result of our superior product technology, validation of product performance and effective supply capability through our new manufacturing plant in Nanjing, China. We feel confident that by the end of this year more China City Councils will be implementing similar programmes.”
Mr. Jacky Chen, Cardia Bioplastics Global Director of Sales and Head of China Operations stated: “The increased order validates our product’s quality and sustainability benefits, as well as our strong Government relationships with China City Councils. We look forward to further working with China City Councils towards managing household waste sustainably and reducing their environmental footprint. Our recent move to larger production facilities is certainly reaping rewards.”
Cardia offers certified compostable products through its organic waste management business, which is delivering sales in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Canada, USA, Brazil and the UK.
The growth in consumption of bioplastics for packaging is very much linked to the relative competitive prices for traditional polymers (petro-polymers), based on fossil fuel products such as oil, natural gas and derivatives. Therefore, the acceptance and growth of bioplastics in packaging is driven by the dynamics and economics of the fossil-fuel industry on a global basis.
In this bulletin, Smithers Pira identifies the key trends which are driving the market for bioplastics for packaging.
Fossil fuel costs
The increasing cost for oil, gas and coal is not new, but what is new is the potential for 'economic de-linkage' of fossil fuel costs as was seen in 2008. In July of 2008, oil prices spiked to over $135/barrel for the first time. Although prices have declined since, a steady-state of $100/barrel as seen in much of 2013 is not considered an attractive price range by consumers. Furthermore, the fear of higher prices is now branded in public memory; most consumers and industries believe that costs will escalate again in the future. Bioplastics demand is directly affected by the relative competitive cost of petro-polymers, which is strongly influenced by the cost of fossil fuel feedstocks.
Although bioplastics by definition do not rely on fossil fuel raw materials, the competitive price-point for bioplastics is still very much influenced by the cost-performance of the incumbent fossil-fuel-derived polymers.
Global supply chain linkage
Today, the chemical and polymer industries are completely global, with supply agreements extending between all the major regions of the world. Therefore, fossil fuel feedstocks, as well as chemical and polymer derivatives, are traded on a global basis.
As the world's largest supply region for low-cost fossil fuel and chemical production, the Middle East acts as the 'price-point' for determining the competitive basis for global chemical and polymer production economics.
Environmental regulations and the 'carbon footprint'
Environmental regulations will play a role in motivating more biopolymer consumption in the longer term, especially with regards to recycling and composting. However, broad-based regulations that drive specific polymer consumption are not likely. Therefore, regulatory impact is expected to be driven less by legislation, and more by industrial and consumer perceptions.
New generation biorenewable technologies
Continued improvement in production and process technology that is used to produce building block chemicals as well as monomers, polymers, compounds and other components such as natural fibre will lead to better performance and provide economic incentives to motivate biopolymer market acceptance.
The industry expects that second and third generation cellulose conversion technology for non-food crops such as corn husks, grass and wood will soon become economic. Cellulose waste is the cheapest raw material in the biomass pool of resources, and if conversion becomes economic, it then becomes another competitive price point to beat out petro-polymer economics.
There is no doubt that future technology development will provide many new types of bioplastics for packaging and better ways of producing traditional bioplastics. These developing bioplastics will offer varying degrees of biorenewability and biodegradability. The degree to which a product is biorenewable and/or biodegradable is an important determinant for achieving market acceptance.
Overall, there are a variety of trends driving the market for bioplastics in packaging. However, it is the competitive cost and availability of fossil fuels that will have the largest impact on the commercial production and use of biopolymers.
This research is based on Smithers Pira's report The Future of Bioplastics for Packaging to 2023. This report is available for purchase now and is essential reading for anyone involved in the bioplastics for packaging market.
Source: Smithers Pira