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ISSN 1862-5258

Highlights: Automotive Applications Foam

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Politics: LCA Position Paper of European Bioplastics | 32 Biodegradability - facts and claims | 28 Basics: Basics of PLA | 38

01 | 2009

Plastics For Your Future Bio-Flex® A 4100 CL for transparent blown film applications

Another New Resin For a Better World

FKuR Kunststoff GmbH | Siemensring 79 | D - 47877 Willich Tel.: +49 (0) 21 54 / 92 51-0 | Fax: +49 (0) 21 54 / 92 51-51 |


dear readers I’m sure that almost everybody in the plastics industry knows that famous scene from ‘The Graduate’ (1967) with Dustin Hoffmann, where Mr. McGuire says: “I just want to say one word to you: Plastics … there‘s a great future in plastics”. But who knows the scene from another Hollywood movie, this time with James Stewart, and one that is about 20 years older? This scene even foresees the great future of bioplastics! Please visit to see the 10 second clip from ‘It’s a wonderful World’ (1946). In fact, as early as in the first decades of the last century Henry Ford applied soy-based plastics for automotive applications (bM 01/2007)

Highlights: Automotive Applications

01 | 2009


bioplastics MAGA



Vol. 4

is read in 85 countries


Once in a while we receive press releases about ‘biodegradable’ PET bottles or other so called ‘oxo-degradable’ plastics. We hesitate to publish such press releases in bioplastics MAGAZINE, as long as we are not totally convinced about the biodegradability in terms of a proven complete assimilation of the plastics by microorganisms. We consider plastics to be biodegradable if they fulfill the internationally accepted standards such as ISO 17088, EN 13432, EN 14995 or ASTM 6400. The oxo-materials might be degradable by UV or heat, but within our declared concept they are certainly not biodegradable …

ISSN 1862-5258

Now – let’s talk about this issue of bioplastic MAGAZINE. It’s almost a tradition that in one of our first issues each year we run a special editorial focus on bioplastics in automotive applications. And once again we are pleased to say that we can report on new developments and applications. The second highlight in this issue is on foams. From coloured loose fill chips used as a toy for kids through elastic foams for the soles of shoes to E-PLA, a particle foam comparable to the polystyrene foam that we all know well through its use in the packaging of domestic electronic equipment etc. We have a veritable kaleidoscope of applications.

Politics: LCA Position Paper of European Bioplastics | 32 Biodegradability - facts and claims | 28 Basics: Basics of PLA | 38

I hope you enjoy reading this issue of bioplastics MAGAZINE and look forward to your comments, opinions or contributions.

Yours, Michael Thielen

bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/09] Vol. 4

bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/09] Vol. 4

From Science & Research

The availability of fermentable carbohydrate

Basics of PLA 36


Editorial contributions are always welcome. Please contact the editorial office via


bioplastics MAGAZINE tries to use British spelling. However, in articles based on information from the USA, American spelling may also be used.

Phylla – powered by sunshine

The views and opinions expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher or the ditorial staff.


The fact that product names may not be identified in our editorial as trade marks is not an indication that such names are not registered trade marks.

Bioplastics in Automotive Applications

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the publisher.

Automotive 21

Expanded PLA as a particle foam 22

First S-Shaped Loose Fill Made from Vegetable Starch 24

Foamed PLA Trays 24

Flexible Foam Made of Starch Based Bioplastic 25


Materials Significant Extrusion Throughput Rate Increase for PLA Foam

Innovative partnership approach for PLA production 18



bioplastics MAGAZINE is read in more than 85 countries.


This publication is sent to qualified subscribers (149 Euro for 6 issues).

Event review Coloured loose fill – fun for young and old


bioplastics MAGAZINE is published 6 times a year.


bioplastics magazine ISSN 1862-5258

Salone Del Gusto

Tölkes Druck + Medien GmbH Höffgeshofweg 12 47807 Krefeld, Germany Print run: 4,000 copies

2008 - Bioplastics Awards - 2009


Elke Schulte, Katrin Stein phone: +49(0)2359-2996-0 fax: +49(0)2359-2996-10

Media Adviser

Polymedia Publisher GmbH Dammer Str. 112 41066 Mönchengladbach, Germany phone: +49 (0)2161 664864 fax: +49 (0)2161 631045

Head Office

Mark Speckenbach, Jörg Neufert


Samuel Brangenberg

Dr. Michael Thielen

Publisher / Editorial

Impressum Content

Editorial News Application News Event Calendar Suppliers Guide Glossary 03








Biodegradability... Sorting through Facts and Claims 28

Life Cycle Assessment of Bioplastics 32

The Current Status of Bioplastics Development in Japan




Cosun and Avantium announce collaboration

Bioplastics Pavillion at AUSPACK 2009

Royal Cosun from Breda and Avantium from Amsterdam (both the Netherlands) recently announced the start of their collaboration. The companies join forces to develop a specific process for the production of a new generation of bioplastics and biofuels from selected organic waste streams.

At AUSPACK 2009, to be held at the Sydney Showgrounds, Sydney Olympic Park, from Tuesday the 16th through to Friday the 19th of June 2009 visitors will have the opportunity to visit a special Bioplastics Pavilion. Biograde, BioPak, Innovia Films, NatureWorks, Plantic Technologies and Plastral will all be exhibiting thirp products under one roof.

Avantium is developing these bioplastics and biofuels under the name ‘Furanics’. Within the collaboration, Cosun will focus on the selection, isolation and purification of suitable components from agricultural waste streams. Avantium will continue to focus on the development of an efficient, chemically catalyzed production process. The duration of the first phase of the collaboration will be approximately two years. With positive results, the companies intend to scale-up the production technology and implement it on commercial scale. “The further optimization of the value of our agricultural products is of great importance for our future”, said Gert de Raaff, Director Corporate Development at Cosun. “Agricultural products and waste streams will increasingly be used as starting material for the production of chemicals and materials. “ Tom van Aken, CEO at Avantium: “Our collaboration with Royal Cosun fits in perfectly with our strategy to produce Furanics from raw materials that do not compete with the food chain. With this approach, we clearly distinguish ourselves from existing biofuels and bioplastics production processes. By collaborating with Cosun, we gain access to organic waste streams and Cosun’s proven expertise in processing agricultural feedstock.” For a number of years, Avantium has been developing “Furanics”, a new generation of bioplastics and biofuels. Furanics can be produced from biomass such as sugars and other carbohydrates. Avantium’s Furanics bioplastics can be produced cheaper than oil-based plastics and they have attractive properties with the potential to replace traditional plastics in many existing applications. Avantium’s Furanics biofuel program aims to develop a new generation of biofuels with both excellent properties (such as high energy density and mixability with conventional fuels) and competitive production costs. Furanics are a sustainable alternative for materials and fuels that are currently produced from crude oil. By using Furanics, the dependence on crude oil decreases and CO2 emissions are reduced.

BioPak will be exhibiting their range of Bioplast potato starch based biopolymers, extruded sheet, compostable copolyester resin, PLA packaging films, compostable self adhesive tapes, composite biodegradable non woven absorbent materials along with examples of commercial applications of these materials. NatureFlex™, a flexible wood pulp based filmic packaging material will be the key exhibit on the Innovia Films stand - exhibiting commercial applications featuring this material from around the world. Films include clear, white and metalised versions that are suitable for fresh produce, flow wrapping, labelling face stocks, confectionary & bakery packaging and many other packaging applications. At AUSPACK 2009 visitors will be able to see the full complement of commercially available Ingeo™ lifestyle products on display. Such will include food packaging solutions of every kind to food serviceware, films wrap applications, plastic cards, as well as electrical appliance casings. Also, a complete assortment of Ingeo applications in apparel, home/office wear and nonwovens for personal care and landscape textiles, demonstrates that Ingeo has become an innovation lifestyle brand for both industry and consumers alike. Plastral will be exhibiting resins and products that are made using vegetable oil and starch feedstocks. Utilisation of these products can help reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing and disposal of single use and multiple use goods and also assist with the diversion of organic waste from landfill to composting. At their stand at AUSPACK 2009, Plantic® will be showing their two thermoformable sheet grades (Plantic R1and Plantic HP1) which are significant in terms of the environmental and functional solutions they provide to brand owners, converters and retailers. Plantic’s sheet products have a renewable resource content of approximately 85%. Also on display will be a variety of Plantic injection moulding grades which can be used for agriculture and horticulture, medical disposables, personal care, packaging and building and construction, to name a few.

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Bag Manufacturer to Stop Advertising Environmental Claims for Oxo-Products The US National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that GP Plastics Corp. modify or discontinue certain advertising claims for its PolyGreen plastic bags. Among the criticized claims are for example:  PolyGreen plastic bags are ‘100% oxo-biodegradable’  PolyGreen plastic bags are ‘disposable through ordinary channels’ and go ‘From front lawn, to waste bins to the landfill’  ‘Eco-Friendly Plastic Newspaper Bags’  PolyGreen plastic bags are “environmentally friendly.” According to GP Plastics the plastic bags are manufactured using ‘oxo-biodegradable’ technology. NAD noted that the advertiser’s claim that PolyGreen bags ‘are disposable through ordinary channels’ should similarly be supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence that the entire plastic bag ‘will completely break down and return to nature … within a reasonably short period of time after customary disposal.’ However, NAD determined that the evidence in the record did not support that claim. NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim that PolyGreen bags are ‘100% oxobiodegradable’ and otherwise modify its advertising to avoid conveying the message that PolyGreen bags will quickly or completely biodegrade when disposed of through ‘ordinary channels,’ e.g., when placed in a landfill.

Two New Laws in California Independent testing of several so called ‘oxo biodegradable’plastic bags in the marketplace have shown little or no biodegradation using accelerated aerobic test methods, such as ASTM D5338 and ISO 14855. Moreover, the reports clearly state that these materials do not meet the requirements of ASTM (6400), European (EN 13432) or international (ISO 17088) specification standards. An independent study commissioned by the State of California’s Waste Management Board with a California public university and under their supervision showed that the ‘oxo-biodegradable’ bags on the market showed no biodegradation (‘Performance Evaluation of Environmentally Degradable Plastic Packaging and Disposable Service Ware,’ California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) Publications, (June 2007). This study, and the proliferation of unsubstantiated claims on biodegradability forced the State of California to put in place laws AB1972: ... prohibit the sale of a plastic bag that is labeled as “compostable” or “marine degradable,” unless that bag meets the ASTM Standard Specification for Compostable Plastics D6400, the ASTM Standard Specification for NonFloating Biodegradable Plastics in the Marine Environment D7081, or a standard adopted by the California Integrated Waste Management Board, as specified. The bill also would prohibit the sale of a plastic bag that is labeled as “biodegradable,” “degradable,” “decomposable,” or as otherwise specified. A companion bill AB 2071: ...would authorize a city, a county, or the state to impose civil liability, in specified amounts, for violations of the above provisions and would require any civil penalties collected to be paid to the office of the city attorney, city prosecutor, district attorney, or Attorney General, whichever office brought the action. Weblinks to the mentioned documents can be found at

NAD further recommended that the advertiser discontinue claims such as ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘environmentally friendly’ etc. because the claims overstate the evidence with respect to the degradation of the plastic bags. GP Plastics Corp. has said it will appeal NAD’s findings to the National Advertising Review Board. NAD’s inquiry was conducted under NAD/CARU/NARB Procedures for the Voluntary Self-Regulation of National Advertising. For more information about advertising self regulation, please visit Source:

Mark your calendar bioplastics MAGAZINE is planning the 2nd PLA Bottle Conference to be held during drinktec 2009 (mid September 2009) in Munich, Germany. A ‘Call for Papers’ is now open. Send your proposals to the editorial office.

bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/09] Vol. 4

Use of Oxo-Additives implicates loss of Warranty Braskem, Brazilian Petrochemical Company, developer of biobased polyolefins (Polyethylene and Polypropylene) made from renewable raw materials, mainly sugarcanebioethanol and with a project under construction to produce 200 Kt/y of Green PE, starting end 2010, does not warrant the performance of its resins with additives for the so-called ‘oxo-degradation’. The use of such additives with Braskem’s polyolefins, implicates the loss of warranted qualities of the materials. In a data sheet accompanying their ‘High Density Polyethylene HF 0147’ for instance it is stated: Braskem’s resins do not contain additives produced from metals or other substances which have the objective to promote oxo degradation. Such additives and the decomposition and fragmentation of resins caused by the oxo degradation compromise the approval of the resin regarding requirements of the Resolution 105/99 of ANVISA (Brazilian National Agency of Sanitary Monitoring). The use of these additives implicates the loss of the performance warranties described in this document.

Frost & Sullivan Award for DuPont DuPont recently received the ‘2008 European Bioplastics Product Line Strategy Award’ from Frost & Sullivan -- a leading market consulting company -- for its accomplishments in rapidly developing an extremely diverse range of highperformance materials based on renewable sources. Several DuPont renewably sourced products already are in the market and can be found in textile, automotive, cosmetics, personal care and industrial applications. Adriano Bassanini, DuPont BioMaterials leader, Europe, Middle East & Africa, received the award on behalf of DuPont. “This is an achievement we should be proud of. Bioplastics lie at the heart of our growing business platform,” Adriano said. “This diverse approach makes DuPont rather unique in the industry, as most other companies are focusing on a narrow range of bio-based chemistry for their biomaterials portfolio. Frost & Sullivan is therefore proud to confer this award to DuPont,” said Dr. Brian Balmer of Frost & Sullivan.

Dr.-Ing. Christian Bonten, FKuR-Director Technology & Marketing


FKuR and Ritter Pen got award for innovation Biograde® from German FKuR Kunststoff GmbH, in the form of the new Bio-Pen from the writing utensils manufacturer Ritter-Pen GmbH has been granted the award for innovation ‘Biomaterial of the year 2008’. Biograde is a transparent, injection mouldable bioplastic based on cellulose. This co-developed product from FKuR and Fraunhofer UMSICHT combines renewable and biodegradable cellulose acetate with special additives and coupler by means of an adapted biocompounding process from FKuR. Biograde is transparent (depending on grade), dyeable, scratch and heat resistant. The cellulose acetate used is gained from European soft wood. Bio-Pen is a new series of writing utensils from Ritter-Pen for the ecologically aware consumer. 80 % of the ball pen is made from the renewable and compostable Biograde. “With the help of Biograde Ritter-Pen is able to develop aesthetically appealing writing utensils that meet the consumers´ wish for eco-friendly products. Biograde is injection mouldable, and what is more even dyeable and printable”, says Fredy Büchler, managing director from Ritter-Pen. “Together with Ritter-Pen we are very pleased about the award, since it confirms that with the development of injection mouldable bioplastics we are in the pulse of time.”, explains Dr. Edmund Dolfen, managing director of FKuR. Bioplastics are a class of polymer which have properties comparable to conventional polymers, but are made from renewable resources or enable the biodegradability of the products made from this material. The innovation award ‘Biomaterial of the year 2008’ has been granted by the company Reifenhäuser GmbH & Co. KG within the framework of the international congress ‘Raw Material Shift & Biomaterials’ of the nova-institute on in Cologne the 3rd /4th December.

bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/09] Vol. 4



he winners of the third Bioplastics Awards organized by European Plastics News (EPN) were announced in Munich, Germany, on 3 December 2008.

So we are happy to ask our readers to supply suggestions for the Bioplastics Awards 2009. Your entry should say:

bioplastics MAGAZINE as a media partner of this award presents the winners below.

2. What your product, service or development does (up to 200 words)

We are particularly proud that EPN asked bioplastics MAGAZINE to be part of the judging panel for the next awards.

2008 - Bioplastics Awards - 2009 1. What your product, service or development is (up to 200 words)

3. Why you think your product, service or development should win an award (Up to 200 words)

Your entry should also include photographs and may be supported with samples, marketing brochures and/or technical documentation. You find a pdf-form for such entries at our website or at The 2008 winners are:

4. What your company or organisation does

Best Innovation in Bioplastics

Best Bioplastics Processor

Biopolymer Network – New Zealand Expanded PLA Foaming Process

Gehr Plastics – Germany Semifinished products

The New Zealand-based research partnership Biopolymer Network has developed a simple and cost effective process for producing low density expanded PLA polymer foams suitable for many applications currently catered for with expanded polysytrene. The development involves a controlled process for impregnation and pre-expansion of PLA beads using carbon dioxide as a blowing agent. Careful control of the impregnation process conditions avoids premature foaming of the beads, which can be stored and processed using existing EPS processing equipment. A key attraction of the technology is its ability both to substitute a petrochemical- based polymer with a biobased alternative together with its elimination of hydrocarbon-based blowing agents. Foams with densities down to 30 g/litre and with good resilience and impact properties have been achieved using the technology with commercially available PLA resins. No polymer pre-treatment is required and the carbon dioxide blowing agent can be recovered during processing. Biopolymer Network has trialled the technology on existing manufacturing plant and is currently securing patent protection.

While bioplastics are quite widely used in the packaging industry, access to the materials in other sectors of industry has been less easy. German semi-finished products producer Gehr Plastics has taken that on board in its EcoGehr product line, which makes renewable and natural fibre reinforced materials available to plastics fabricators for the first time. Gehr Plastics has invested considerable R&D effort into preparing itself for the introduction of its EcoGehr product line, which includes polymers ranging from PLA through to castor-oil derived polyamides such as PA 6.10 and 11. It has already supplied products for evaluation in markets as diverse as snow-ski core materials and cosmetics components. As the first semifinished plastic producer to assemble a full range of bio-based and renewable semifinished plastic products, Gehr Plastics has marked itself out as a pioneer in bioplastics processing.

bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/09] Vol. 4

Award Best Bioplastics Application – Packaging

Amcor Flexibles – UK Compostable fresh produce pack Amcor Flexibles worked with packaging specialist Flextrus, to develop the packaging for the UK retailer Sainsbury’s So Organic wild rocket salad. Sainsbury’s requirements for the pack was to deliver a home compostable product that would retain barrier performance and heat seal integrity in the wet environment required for fresh salads. The companies developed the Natureplus TDH2 product around a film structure comprised of Innovia’s Natureflex cellulose film combined with a proprietary compostable sealing layer. No adhesive layer is required. The solution overcomes the moisture sensitivity of the cellulose film, enabling it to deliver seal performance similar to a PET/PE laminate and to run at line speeds similar to traditional alternatives. The TDH2 film is produced by Flextrus and converted to bags by Amcor.

Best Bioplastics Application – Non-Packaging

Personal Contribution to Bioplastics

Formax Quimiplan – Brazil Renewable TPU shoe components

Oliver P. Peoples CSO and co-founder, Metabolix

Thermogreen is the latest range of counters and toe puffs (structural shoe components) from Brazilian footwear industry supplier Formax Quimiplan and is the first industrialscale application of renewable thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) in the shoe industry. Counters and toe puffs are technically demanding parts that reinforce the shoe structure and are essential in maintaining them. The TPUs used to make the Thermogreen products were developed for the application by Merquinsa of Spain. Aside from the sourcing of renewable materials, they also provide a lower activation temperature, making further energy savings possible during moulding.

With the first commercial scale Mirel PHA production plant set to begin production this year at Clinton, Iowa, USA, Oliver P. Peoples is closer now than ever to realising the dream of seeing biotechnology research converted into large scale production of bioplastics. A graduate of molecular biology from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, Oliver joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US as a research scientist in its Department of Biology in 1988. In 1992, Oliver cofounded Metabolix with MIT microbiologist Anthony J. Sinskey and took on the position of Chief Scientific Officer with responsibility for all of its scientific programmes.

Bioplastics Marketing Initiative

Read all details about Oliver P. Peoples achievements as well as more info about the 2008 and 2009 Bioplastics Awards at

Nestlé Confectionery – UK Quality Street brand recycling campaign Nestlé Confectionery’s decision to repackage its market leading UK chocolate sweet range meant communicating the end-of-life options for a wide variety of packaging materials. The company’s solution was to develop its ‘Recycling Cycle’ story board. Printed on the base of every tin, it promotes how each element in the packaging should be handled or recycled at the end of life, including the specially developed range of home compostable cellulose twist wrappers developed for the project by Innovia Films. The ‘Recycling Cycle’ makes it very clear to consumers that the plastic twist wraps will decompose on the home compost heap.

Chris Smith (EPN) and Angela Beatriz Stroeher, Market Development Manager Formax Quimiplan

bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/09] Vol. 4

Event Review

Salone saves and CO2


alone Internazionale del Gusto in Turin, Italy, is a bi-yearly ‘slow-food’ event that calls upon chefs, winemakers, caterers, journalists and experts to focus on biodiversity and food education. Last year the Salone set itself a new challenge which underlines the importance of environmental impact, energy resources and CO2 emissions.

In accordance with its philosophy, Salone del Gusto 2008 (2327 October) was planned with a system-designed approach built around new strategies allowing reduction in environmental impact, promoting eco-sustainable lifestyles and patterns of consumption. This includes sourcing energy supplies from local renewable resources, facilitating waste disposal and reducing environmental impact. In this option the resources are abundant, seasonally renewable, easily obtainable, cost effective, and have potential re-use as fertilisers. The Salone put newly planned solutions in place to contain carbon emissions, and then to achieve zero emissions by offsetting carbon levels with planting of trees in a park on the banks of the river Po in the Turin area, to be accompanied by other initiatives aimed at protecting the river‘s biodiversity. This project was developed with a system-designed view by Slow Food, Piedmont Region, the Municipality of Turin, Industrial Design-Turin Polytechnic, Fondazione Zeri, along with Novamont and other partners. Several areas of the event are involved in the project, such as the furnishings (elimination of the carpeting, etc.), waste production (a waste disposal method aiming at 50% separation) and packaging (biodegradable carrier bags, glass packaging for the Presidia, collection and recycling of PET bottles, upgrading of steel packaging, etc.). Other areas include: the utensils for eating food in the Terra Madre and Ideale cafeterias (MaterBi® tableware sets), the logistics for transporting goods and the delegates and visitors of Terra Madre (motor vehicles with reduced environmental impact, incentives for using public transportation, etc.), energy resources and CO2 emissions (obtaining energy from local renewable sources, planting local trees in the fluvial park of the river Po in the Turin area, etc.). Novamont, a leading company in the bioplastics sector, contributed to this new project thanks to its many years of experience and the results it has obtained by designing new systems that promote the role of bioplastics. The company is


bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/09] Vol. 4

Del Gusto Resources Emissions



a concrete example of the active contribution that this material is making to sustainable development and the reinforcement of new industrial policies that can meet the needs of the economy with sustainability and create an integrated system of chemistry, agriculture, industry and the environment for a „truly sustainable development“ with low environmental impact. Novamont made its contribution to the project by supplying the event with about 200,000 sets of tableware made of Mater-Bi® and cellulose pulp. This exclusive distribution of disposable biodegradable and compostable Mater-Bi products will yield an estimated 11,000 kg of compost from the collection of 27,000 kg of organic refuse. This translates as a saving of about 20,000 kg in unsorted refuse destined for landfill or incineration. An LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) study comparing meals served with compostable disposable products and traditional disposable plasticware showed that 68kg of CO2 emission were saved for every 1000 meals (the figure has been adjusted down for Turin‘s Salone del Gusto, given probable lower levels of leftovers). The project estimates overall carbon savings equivalent to 450 fewer vehicles moving around Turin each day for the four days of the event (on a 50 Km per car per day basis). In non-renewable energy terms, savings translate as 515 kWh per thousand meals served, or the switching off of 26,000 50-Watt bulbs for the four days of the event.

Featuring top industry speakers including: RAMANI NARAYAN, University Distinguished Professor, Michagan State University, USA

DR. JOHN WILLIAMS, Technology Transfer Manager, Polymers & Materials, National Non Food Crops Centre, UK

DR BILL ORTS, Research Leader, Bioproduct Chemistry & Engineering, USDA

DR MARTIN PATEL, Associate Professor, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

CAMILLE BUREL, Manager, Industrial Biotech Council, EuropaBio

Register today! For delegate registration options (including pre conference forums), please contact Victoria Adair on +44 (0)207 099 0600, email or fax +44 (0)207 900 1853. Please quote reference BF15A

Organised by:


Bioplastics in Automotive Applications

Ford Mustang (Photo: Ford)

16 14.3

CO2 Reduction (Million Ibs.)


To update ourselves on the latest bioplastics developments in the automotive industry bioplastics MAGAZINE spoke to Ellen Lee, Plastics Research Technical Expert in the Materials and Nanotechnology Department of Ford Motor Company, Dearborn, Michigan, USA.

12 10 8 6


4 2 0.6 0

Mustang Program

Program Using Soy Foam in 2008


If Migrated to all FMC Vehicles

CO2 reduction when using soy foam (source: Ford)

One of Ford’s projects that is now in production is soybased polyurethane foam with a total soy content of 5% of the pad weight. Among the first cars that had such products was the 2008 model of the Ford Mustang. “Today it’s in over a million Ford vehicles,” as Ellen comments, “including the Ford F150, Ford Mustang, Ford Focus, Ford Escape, Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator and Mercury Mariner”. The polyurethane contains soy-based polyol and is applied to seat backs and seat cushions. All Ford programs using soy foam in 2008 lead to a CO2 reduction of 2,400 tons (5.3 million lbs) per year. If soy foam technology was migrated to all Ford Motor Company vehicles, this would result in a reduction of about 6,500 tons (14.3 million lbs) of CO2 per year. But it is not only the soy oil that is being exploited. Researchers at Ford also found interest in the soy flour or soy meal, which is the residue after extracting the oil. Ford is investigating using these substances as reinforcements or fillers for a lot of materials including rubber and EPDM.

Injection Moulded Natural Fibre PP Components (Photo: Ford)


bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/09] Vol. 4

Ford also applies a lot of natural fiber reinforced materials, as most automotive companies have been doing for many years. Most of these are compression moulded

Automotive Corn-based headrest bag

Corn-based fabric

Natural fiber reinforced PP

Soy-based PU foam

Upcycled water bottles to PBT seat clips

Sugarcane-based PP side shields

Ford’s EnviroSeat (source: Ford) applications using conventional thermoplastics. For the Ford Taurus X, for example, the third row seat back is made of kenaf reinforced PP (50% by weight NF loading). In addition Ford is looking into injection moldable, natural fiber reinforced resins – including PLA. “Research is going on in our laboratories,” says Ellen, “that also includes thermoset materials such as SMC with soy or corn based matrix materials and natural fibers as reinforcement.“ In terms of PLA, besides injection moldable natural fiber reinforced applications, Ford is evaluating the use of films and fibers/textiles. “Currently the PLA materials that are commercially available on a large scale don’t offer the durability that we need for internal applications,” Ellen points out, ”so that one of our focus points – together with the raw material suppliers – is to try to increase that durability for hot and humid climates.” At NatureWorks’ ‘Innovation takes Root’ conference last September in Las Vegas, Ellen highlighted Ford CEO Alan


Conventional Seat EnviroSeat

Reduced environmental impact

kg CO2 emissions per vehicle


60 40 20 0 -20 -40


Fabric + film

Side shields

Seat back


Environmental impact of Ford’s EnviroSeat (source: Ford)

Mulally’s commitment to offer their customers affordable, environmentally friendly technologies in their vehicles. This translates down into their fundamental work to improve the performance specifically of Ingeo™ PLA resin in injection molding via crystallinity modification. Starting from a comprehensive review of automotive requirements, from temperature, to moisture, to scuff, dent, and ding resistance in exterior parts, UV weathering characteristics, and for underhood applications, corrosion and cyclic fatigue resistance, Ellen highlighted where Ford sees potential for Ingeo in automotive applications in the shorter term. In textiles, this includes, carpet, floor mats, and upholstery; in interior parts, in injection molded applications such as trim, knobs, buttons, and nonappearance parts; and finally, in Ford’s own manufacturing processes, in packaging and protective wrap. Other biobased materials which Ford is currently working on include thermoset polyesters with bio and recycled contents, Polyolefins derived from renewable resources (e.g., sugarcane) and more. The picture above shows Ford’s so called ‘EnviroSeat’, a study of which parts of a seat could be made of materials coming from renewable resources.

Toyota Toyota Motor Corporation have announced plans to increase the use of plant-derived, carbon-neutral plastics in more vehicle models, starting with a new hybrid vehicle this year. Carbon-neutral in Toyota’s understanding means zero net CO2 emissions over the entire lifecycle of the product. Toyota’s newly developed plastics, collectively

bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/09] Vol. 4



referred to as ‘Ecological Plastic’, are to be used in scuff plates, headliners, seat cushions and other interior vehicle parts. By the end of 2009 Toyota aims for Ecological Plastic to account for approximately 60 percent of the interior components in vehicles that feature it. There are basically two types of Ecological Plastic: the first is produced completely from plant-derived materials and the second from a combination of plant-derived and petroleum-derived materials. Because plants play a role in either type, Ecological Plastic emits less CO2 during a product‘s lifecycle (from manufacture to disposal) than plastic made solely from petroleum; it also helps reduce petroleum use, as stated by Toyota.

Lexus 2010 HS 250h (Photo: Lexus)

Table1: Ecological plastic application and materials used

Ecological Plastic adequately meets the heat-resistance and shock-resistance demands of vehicle interiors through the use of various compounding technologies, such as those allowing molecular-level bonding and homogeneous mixing of plant-derived and petroleumderived raw materials. And being equal to conventional plastics in terms of quality and productivity means that it can be used in the production of vehicles.

Interior vehicle parts using Ecological Plastic

Where used

Scruff plates, cowl side trim, floor finish plate, toolbox

Combined raw materials Pland-derived



Polylactic acid


Headliner, sun visors, pillar covers

Covering (fibrous portion)

Plant-derived polyester

Polyethylene terephtylene

Trunk liner

Covering (fibrous portion)

Polylactic acid

Polyethylene terephtylene

Door trim

Base material

Kenaf fibre* and Polylactic acid

(not used)

Seat cushion

Foam portion

Polyol derived from castor oil*

Polyol, isocyanate (cross-linking agent)

* non-food source

Lexus 2010 HS 250h (Photo: Lexus)

Toyota make clear that they will continue to develop various advanced technologies aimed at realizing sustainable mobility and that they believe that it is important to increase the availability of such technologies in the marketplace. Toyota intends to pursue research and development and practical applications that result in expanded use of Ecological Plastic in vehicle parts.

Lexus A few weeks ago Lexus revealed the 2010 HS 250h, the world’s first dedicated luxury hybrid vehicle, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The HS 250h will be Lexus’ fourth hybrid and the most fuel-efficient vehicle in its lineup. It will also be the first Lexus to proactively adopt plant-based, carbon-neutral ‘Ecological Plastic’ materials (as known from Toyota, see above) in a new futuristic cockpit and interior design. Among the areas of utilization will be an industry-first


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use in luggage-trim upholstery. Other areas are the cowlside trim, door scuff plate, tool box area, floor-finish plate, seat cushions, and the package tray behind the rear seats. Overall, approximately 30 percent of the interior and luggage area is covered with Ecological Plastic. Over the estimated lifecycle of the vehicle, the HS 250h will have approximately 20 percent less carbon-dioxide emission as a result of utilizing the Ecological Plastic trim pieces.

Mazda Last year Mazda introduced its innovative bioplastic internal consoles and bio-fabric seats in its Mazda 5 model (in some countries also marketed under the brand name Premacy).

Mazda Premacy (Photo: Mazda)

Up to 30 percent of the interior parts in the Mazda 5 will be made of bio-material components, as Takahiro Tochioka, Senior Research Engineer from Mazda Motor Corporation‘s Technical Research Centre mentioned within the framework of EcoInnovasia 2008 last October in Bangkok. “We want to show that Mazda is committed to saving the environment,“ he said. Bioplastics used for vehicles need to have higher strength and heat thresholds than ordinary plastics, as Mr. Tochioka explained. Thus Mazda set out to correct bioplastic‘s well-known weak points. “It needs to be highly elastic to prevent breaks in accidents and it needs to be able to tolerate high temperatures from sunlight. Bioplastic is well known for its rather inadequate heatresistant qualities,“ Mr Tochioka said.


Mazda’s bio-materials used in the Premacy have been specially designed to meet such requirements. According to Mazda, the next step is to develop the materials to allow for bioplastic use on the car‘s exterior. (source:

Honda At the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show in mid-November Honda revealed the Honda FC Sport design study model, a hydrogen-powered, three-seat sports car concept. According to Honda: “The glacier white body color conveys the FC Sport‘s clean environmental aspirations while the dark wheels and deeply tinted glass provide a symbolic contrast befitting the vehicle‘s unique combination of clean power and high performance.” Green construction techniques further contribute to a reduced carbon footprint. An organic, bio-structure theme is carried through to the body construction where exterior panels are intended to use plant-derived bio-plastics.

Hydrogen fuel cell-powered Honda FC Sport design study model shown at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show (Photo: Honda)

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Phylla – powered by sunshine


ast summer the Northern Italian Region of Piedmont presented its ‘Veicolo Urbano Multi-Ecologico e Sostenibile’ (Multi-ecological City Car) project ‘Phylla’. The innovative, zero-emission concept car, that captures solar energy to power its electric motors, presents many environment friendly technologies. It was developed by CRF (Fiat Research Centre) and designed by two Turin-based colleges - Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) and Istituto di Arte Applicata e Design IAAD. The 2+2 seat sub-A-segment concept car is only 2.99 metres long and weighs about 750 kg. It has a lightweight body consisting of an aluminium frame and outer trim components made of a bioplastic material from Novamont. One special feature of the vehicle is its flexible ‘split-frame’ architecture, where the passenger cabin is separated from the frame. This makes it possible to use different body styles on the same platform. The bioplastic materials support the lightweighting of the car and in addition take into account the EU Directive scheduled to come into force in mid 2010. This Directive demands that all new vehicles must be up to 85% recyclable and up to 95% reusable. As most of the plastics used for the Phylla are either compostable or recyclable these specifications can be easily fulfilled. The car is propelled by solar-powered, electric battery motors that drive all four of its wheels. That is one of the reasons for the name ‘Phylla’ which means ‘leaf‘ in ancient Greek and communicates its ability to convert solar light

into energy. The range of the Phylla of approximately 145 km with a lithium ion battery can be boosted to 220 km when a lithium polymer battery is used. In addition to the bioplastics for the car body Novamont has contributed to the design of this innovative vehicle by providing its technology and experience in the manufacture of bio-tyres. Using renewable resources of agricultural origin Novamont has created a bio-filler which replaces the carbon black and silica of traditional tyres, guaranteeing innumerable advantages from the economic and environmental points of view. Even with ‘traditional’ cars the new Novamont tyres save on fuel consumption thanks to their lower rolling resistance (over €150 savings on 15,000 km driven in a year). They also reduce tread wear and CO2 emissions (10 g/km) and thus atmospheric pollution, as well as combating noise and noise pollution and lowering levels of energy used in the manufacturing process. Technically, the tyre weight is also reduced and safety performance improved thanks to excellent road-holding in wet conditions. The multi-ecological city car project is perfectly in line with the mission of Novamont, which has from the outset striven to provide solutions to the urgent problems of environmental pollution by using renewable resources of agricultural origin, minimising post-manufacture waste by-products and developing low environmental impact processes.


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international competition


L A N G U A G E.




produced by



Innovative partnership approach for PLA production


URAC from Gorinchem, The Netherlands, a pioneer in the field of lactic acid and lactide, team up with Sulzer Chemtech and other plastics industry-partners to offer a unique approach that lowers the entry barrier and development time for the production of PLA. Purac has been producing lactic acid and derivatives for a variety of applications for more than 70 years. “It is the innovative capabilities that enable us to offer products in a very high purity so that our qualities have set the standards” says Ruud Reichert, Business Manager of Purac. Today Purac is the market leader with over 65% market share in lactic acid. In addition, Purac has been producing lactide and PLA for bio-medical applications for 18 years. These PLA types stand out due to their high molecular weight, controlled microstructure, crystallinity and the high purity, resulting in superior mechanical and thermal properties, as Ruud points out.

PLA production partnership About two years ago, Purac decided to make a major shift in the company’s strategy to extend the portfolio from lactic acid into D- and L-lactides for the production of PLA for industrial use. This should make it easier for potential customers to produce their own PLA. Lactides are cyclic lactic acid dimers (ring-molecules consisting of two lactic acid molecules), or better PLA monomers, which can be polymerized to PLA by ring-opening-polymerization. Purac’s process for lactide production allows to keep racemization low1 and therefore the amount of mesolactide formed in the process low. “Compared to the process of direct polycondensation of lactic acid to PLA, this intermediate step via lactide allows us to create significantly higher quality of PLA,” explains Hans van der Pol, Purac’s Marketing Manager. Knowing about the PLA-quality and the high purity of L and D lactides1 customers started to ask if Purac could supply a process to make PLA from their lactide. The fit of technologies from the Swiss company Sulzer Chemtech with the Purac concepts promted both companies to start a partnership for PLA technology development based on Purac lactides. One of the drivers was the proven static mixer technology of Sulzer Chemtech. Based on this technology and the experience with lactide, the two companies together developed a new cost effective process.


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Materials SULZER

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PLA Producers

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Lactides Stereo-complex Technology PLA Precess Technology

“Due to its strong technology position in lactic acid production and processing, it is a logical step for Purac to extend its position one step further in the value-chain, thereby facilitating polymers and plastics producers to make the step into bio-plastics production. Because the economy of scale effect of lactide production is much higher than the scale effect of the polymerization, polymer producers can invest in smaller plants. Step by step integration as the market grows allows for a phased approach and reduced risks.” says Ruud Reichert.

“In this concept, polymer producers will no longer need to invest in complex and capital intensive Lactic acid and Lactide technologies, but can focus instead on adding value through the production of specialized PLA polymers, co-polymers and final products (e.g. films or foams) for target application area’s.

sc-PLA High pure PLA


Unique business model

The total PLA solution

crystalline scPLA


Stereo-block PLA





130°C Amorphous No Tm


incfreasing Tm

In order to be able to offer a complete solution for polymerization to its lactide customers, Purac and Sulzer Chemtech in close collaboration have developed a polymerization process that works uniquely with Purac lactides. “By combining these Lactides in new and creative ways, the improvement of the PLA heat-stability through stereocomplexation concepts– one of its key issues – can become a reality,” Hans van der Pol says. “Purac’s Innovation center has recently demonstrated the ability to produce cups with a heat-stability of over 100°C by injection moulding using less than 5% of PDLA.”

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“The process consists of two steps:” says Hans van der Pol, “the polymerization and the devolatilization, where residual monomers are removed from the polymer. The Sulzer Chemtech’s system offers a very mild process with a good temperature control and a very efficient high vacuum devolatilization process. “The process allows for flexibility in the end-product architecture and allows for high molecular weight, controllable polydispersity and a low color,“ as Hans points out. “This allows our partners the flexibility to produce relatively pure and high quality PLLA and PDLA with superior physical properties, or amorphous grades of PLA.”

L-Lactic Unit

D-Lactic Unit

PLA is actually a family of (co-)polymers of D- and L-lactic units

Because the economy of scale effect of PURALACT production is much higher than the scale effect of the polymerization, polymer producers can invest in smaller scale plants. Step by step integration as the market grows allows for a phased approach and reduced risks.” Ruud says. PLA production partners are ideally companies that are already active in the field of polymerization, compounding and processing of plastic materials. Based on the use of lactides from Purac, clients can licence the polymerization process from Sulzer Chemtech

PLA Quality Within the framework of this new business model, customers can obtain the equipment, raw materials and know-how to produce high



Fiber 10 8

% D

Hans Keist, General Manager Sales EMA, Sulzer Chemtech adds: “This business model creates something new with a high user value. Especially because the entry barrier into the PLA market for smaller producers of plastics has come down. We received a lot of interest from potential PLA producers.”




Coating film



Injection moulding



Pharma Biax film

Fiber 0








Relative viscosity

PLA grades and applications

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With Plastics Technology - High added value - Positive PLA margins

Volume [Mt]


quality PLA in different grades for different applications. “Most PLA grades that are currently available on the market are what we call amorphous types (A-PLA), says Hans van der Pol. “These grades have relatively high amounts of random D-lactic acid units in the chains and their HDT is relatively low.”

40000 30000

Base Scenario - Low added value appl. - Negative margins for PLA producers

20000 10000 0




Plastics Technology is critical factor for sustainable PLA growth

PLA market forecast with plastics technology

High temperature PLA A better PLA grade that can be produced with almost 100% pure L(+) lactic acid (PLLA with less than 2 % D(-)) shows a melting point of about 180°C. “If we now produce pure PLLA chains and pure PDLA chains and eventually can combine these to stereo-block-copolymers by transesterification it is possible to achieve melting points of 200°C,” as Hans explains, “and the top of the list of possible variations is the stereocomplex type (scPLA) with melting points of 220-240°C.” And he adds: “It is so important to have the possibility to produce these different types of PLA because different applications ask for different properties and thus for different grades. Purac has produced D-lactic acid last year for the first time on an industrial scale and will dedicate a whole lactic acid plant to its production. “This is a real breakthrough,” says Ruud Reichert.

Expanded PLA (particle foam) The first PLA producer that signed a partner contract to produce their own PLA is the Dutch company Synbra from Etten-Leur, a company that has been producing EPS (expanded Polystyrene – particle foam) for many years. As customers from Synbra are increasingly looking for environmentally benign and sustainable solutions, Synbra wanted to find a biodegradable alternative based on renewable resources. Their newly developed E-PLA foam offers comparable or even better properties compared to E-PS (see a more detailed report on page 22).

Market Potential … The picture on this page shows that the base scenario with the current PLA grades and the limited properties is not very attractive. Hans van der Pol predicts that the plastics industry will be involved to create more value added products and application areas. “You need that in the current stage in order to make PLA a sustainable business for the long term.” Considering this, Purac sees a potential of 500,000 tonnes by 2015. And that is clearly not only packaging. “We see a huge potential outside the packaging area. New value added applications are for example electronics, e.g. phones or flat screens, fibers (where scPLA is necessary for the processing but also for many applications), hot fill


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applications and even in the automobile sector, where we are seeing sustainability becoming an increasingly important trend,” says Hans van der Pol.

Purac’s production sites Purac runs lactic acid plants in Brazil and in the USA as well as in in Netherlands and in Spain. At all these locations Purac also produces lactic acid derivatives such as salt solutions, esters or powder products. End of 2007 in Thailand a new very efficient plant for L(+) lactic acid with a capacity of 100,000 tonnes/a was opened. This enabled Purac to convert its plant in Spain from L(+) to a dedicated factory for the fermentation of D(-) lactic acid and lactides. “This is now the first step, but we expect that by 2015 our partner model will result in factories where PLA production from sugar is integrated integrated with lactic acid fermentation and lactide production on a 100 kton scale” comments Hans van der Pol. 1: Lactic acid molecules exist either in a L(+) Form (levorotatory form (the (+)-form) or in a D(-)/form dextrorotatory form (the (-)form). The L(+) form tends to transform into D(-) in a process called racemization. Purac is successful in reducing the racemization to a minimum in order to achieve very pure L and D-lactides. Purac produces pure L-lactides (or L(+) lactides consisting of two L(+) isomers of lactic acid) and pure D-lactides (or D(-) lactides consisting of two D (-) isomers of lactic acid) (with a purity of about 99%). Lactides consisting of an L(+) and an D(-) isomer are called meso-lactices. PLLA is obtained by polymerization – that is connecting the lactic acid molecules – of very pure L-lactide. Similarly, PDLA is obtained from D-lactide monomer. Stereocomplex PLA is a special kind of PLA with a melting point of more than 200°C. It is made by mixing PLA and PDLA in a 1 to 1 ratio. Compare it with 2 component glue: the individual components are soft and plastic, while the mixture hardens to become a strong and stiff material.


Coloured loose fill – fun for young and old


oloured loose fill packaging chips have been available for quite a while already. Just before the Christmas period German discounter Aldi sold a product under the brand name Bioplay. The box, marked ‘Automobilset’, showed pictures of cars, traffic lights etc. The coloured loose fill chips in the box were made from pure starch rather than the usual polystyrene foam and were supplied to Aldi by German Pantos Produkt & Vertriebsgesellschaft.

safe, being made of starch and coloured with food dyes. Even Tiziano Mori, cover-hero of this issue of bioplastics MAGAZINE and bar-tender at the European Bioplastics booth, loved the coloured chips. “I was amazed at all the bioplastics products I saw during my job at interpack. But these coloured chips were the biggest fun for me” he said.

(Photo: Philipp Thielen)

During interpack 2008 (Düsseldorf, Germany, April 2008) two large groups of kindergarten kids visited the special show ‘bioplastics in packaging’. Sponsored by Novamont, the children were given loads of coloured loose fill chips to play with, and discovered this as a kind of toy - totally

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Expanded PLA as a particle foam


The product development team of Synbra, Matthijs Gebraad, Jürgen de Jong and Hans van Sas showing the largest BioFoam part moulded to date

he first PLA producer that signed a partner contract with Purac and Sulzer Chemtech (see page 18) to produce their own PLA is the Dutch company Synbra from Etten-Leur, a company that has been producing EPS (expanded Polystyrene – a mouldable styrenics based particle foam) for many years. Now as customers from Synbra are increasingly looking for environmentally benign and sustainable solutions, Synbra wanted to find a biodegradable alternative based on renewable resources. Together with the University of Wageningen, The Netherlands, Synbra had already developed a process for E-PLA using CO2 instead of pentane as a blowing agent. Thus the E-PLA does not contain any volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The E-PLA foam, now marketed under the brand name BioFoam® offers comparable or even better properties compared to EPS in properties like shock absorption, insulation value and moulding shrinkage. In order to better distinguish BioFoam from EPS and other particle foams, Synbra’s E-PLA plans to colour it in a light green tone. Although the situation seems to have eased, at the time they could not buy PLA. Synbra decided to make it themselves. “NatureWorks told us at that time to come back in three years“ says Jan Noordegraaf, Managing Director of Synbra and we would not wait so long”. Earlier in their polystyrene business Synbra had decided to go one step further in the value chain and polymerise their own Polystyrene, so now it was a logic step for them to do the same with PLA. “Then we found Purac, the market leader for lactic acid was only 40 km away from us. And Purac together with Sulzer were offering exactly what we were looking for, so it was clear for us what we had to do,” adds Jan Noordegraaf.


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In addition, until recently, PLA couldn’t be applied to applications such as expanded bead foam. The thermal properties as well as its brittleness did not allow reheating and expansion, but a solution was found for this. Additional opportunities are also identified since Purac started a new D-Lactide production last year, Synbra envisages now to also to use a stereocomplex PLA made from Purac’s new D-lactide monomer, yielding foam with microwavable capabilities. The first results are extremely promising and prototypes were made.

The prestigious NRK sustainable innovation award 2008/2009 was handed over by MVO chairman Wim Lageweg to Synbra’s Lex Edelman, Jan Noordegraaf and Wout Abbenhuis

A big advantage is that BioFoam can be custom expanded to densities between 20-40 grams per litre (g/l), without a limitation in moulded size. Achievable densities are far lower than with continuously extruded PLA (in an XPS like process) which hovers around 100-150g/l. “No wonder,“ Noordegraaf says, ”that particle foam E-PLA is perceived to be superior to X-PLA and he adds “because E-PLA foam creates the highest amount of parts per kilo.” The main markets for BioFoam are for example specialty packaging for consumer goods and cushion filling made from biobased materials. The maker of the famous Fatboy beanbag furniture, the dutch company Fatboy the Original bv, is about to use BioFoam beads for filling. For the cold chain transport sector DGP-Group of York (UK) is the leading launch customer. End of last year Synbra started up a demonstration and product development plant located at Sulzer Chemtech in Switzerland. This unit, for the time being only available to partners of Purac, shall facilitate both product and process development to meet various application and customer demands. A production plant in Etten-Leur, the Netherlands with a capacity of 5,000 t/a is targeted to be operational by the end of 2009. Synbra intends to assume a leading position in Europe as supplier of biologically degradable foamed polymers from renewable sources and plans to expand the PLA capacity to 50,000 t/a. Starting in Europe, Synbra already has plans to bring their BioFoam to North America in a partnership with a US based company. “BioFoam will be global,” as Jan Noordegraaf puts it. In January 2009 Synbra was awarded the prestigious PRIMA ondernemen gold innovation award by the Dutch rubber and plastics association (NRK) for its exemplary innovative and sustainable development.

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Foamed PLA Trays Depron, from Weert, The Netherlands (a former Hoechst division) supplies trays of approx. 600 different models for food packaging, i.e. meat, poultry and vegetable & fruit trays, for dry, MAP and fresh applications. About 600 million trays are produced per year. Depron serves the Benelux (market leader), Germany and France.

First S-Shaped Loose Fill Made from Vegetable Starch Pelaspan™ Bio is an innovative new product of Storopack from Metzingen, Germany. The packaging chips made of vegetable starch have a resilient Sshape. Thus the individual chips interlock each other to form an effective padding around the packaged product, wedging and consequently locking it in place. Pelaspan Bio is totally biodegradable and compostable according to EN 13432 without any risk of ground water contamination. Pelaspan Bio was developed by Storopack in the USA for companies aiming to demonstrate their environmental credentials with a new alternative to loose fill made of crude oil based plastic. Based on the success of the polystyrene version, the aim was to transfer the benefits of the S-shaped chip to packaging chips made of vegetable starch. This entailed engineering work to modify the extruder, as vegetable starch is conventionally produced only in a simple cylindrical format. The US team determined the optimum balance between contour and material density to ensure that the product demonstrated the right degree of protective resilience, a good blocking effect and the capability to withstand high contact pressure. The product has been available in the Benelux states for quite a while and is now available in Germany and France too. Other countries are to follow.


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Currently supplying mainly trays made of extruded and thermoformed polystyrene, Depron started experimenting with bio degradables in its laboratories in 2003. The first trays were thermoformed in 2004. Alternative raw materials such as potato- or corn starch were tested as well, resulting in the final decision to pursue the usage of Ingeo™ raw material as supplied by NatureWorks in 2005. Reasons were the good characteristics (stability) of Ingeo during the thermoforming process and the looks of this new food tray, from the consumer point of view. Depron expects a definite change towards bio products / food trays in the next 10 years, whereby the substitution rate towards bio degradable / fully compostable products is difficult to predict at this point in time. “We expect the start of a new Ingeo product generation to be in the fruit & vegetable packaging with one of the leading fruitpackers in Europe,” says Siebe A. Sonnema, General Manager of Depron, estimating a potential of 120 million trays per year per 2010. “Depending on the emerging ‘green policy’ at the major retailers in the Benelux and government fiscal policy (i.e. tax on packaging material per 2008) the change towards bio products will be enhanced,” he says. Depron decided to use NatureWorks’ Ingeo because besides the excellent features of the material in the extrusion and thermoform process, the sustenance from NatureWorks was impressive, regarding among others the Process Guide, Q&A facilities with engineers, cross references with other producers experimenting with PLA and very important as well, the introduction to Fogarty turbo screws, an essential part supplier of the extruding process as Bas Zeevenhoven, Head of R&D emphasizes.


Significant Extrusion Throughput Rate Increase for PLA Foam Flexible Foam Made of Starch Based Bioplastic Glycan Biotechnology Co.,Ltd from Jhongli City, Taiwan offers different starch and cellulose based bioplastics. Besides grades such as for injection moulding (Glycan JT-030), extrusion blow moulding (Glycan JT-035, e.g. for tubes, bottles or toys) or film blowing (Glycan FT-075, e.g. for shopping bags or garbage bags) the company also has two flexible starch based materials for foaming in their product portfolio. Whereas Glycan ET-045 is suitable for making mattresses, the second type Glycan WT-065 is ideal for shoes and sandals. “Even if our material is not as strong as EVA or rubber types usually used it can be applied for sandals, walking- or sport shoes as Dr. Robin, Technical Director of Glycan Biotechnology points out. “Shoes and sandals have a natural character,” he says, “they are lightweight, comfortable and in winter they can warm up your feet fast.” Available colours ore rather soft and can of course be customized. According to Glycan Biotechnology the foam is an ‘eco-product’ that – in the right environment – shows biodegradation after 90 days. “And in waste-to-energy plants the material burns odorless, non-toxic and without any black smoke,” Dr. Robin adds. Glycan Biotechnology, who look back to almost 20 years of development in their laboratories, have signed international contracts on environmental protection. “Our goal is to offer products, services and solutions of ‘green technology’ that are hightech with less cost to meet the customer’s needs for various applications”, as stated by Glycan.

Plastic Engineering Associates Licensing, Inc. (PEAL), from Boca Raton, Florida, USA recently announced new trial results. The technical team has increased the throughput rate for NatureWorks Ingeo® biopolymer (PLA) extruded foam by an impressive 40% on a 4.5” x 6.0” tandem extrusion system. PEAL expects further and significant throughput rate increases as the Turbo-Screws® technology continues to advance the state of the art of Ingeo biopolymer foam extrusion. Turbo-Screws technology for PLA foam extrusion is commercially operating and is available & ready for the foam food packaging industry today. PEAL is a preferred equipment supplier to NatureWorks LLC and Turbo-Screws technology has been recognized by NatureWorks as the preferred technology for foam extrusion of NatureWorks’ Ingeo biopolymers. Last November PEAL announced its first European license of its Turbo-Screws technology foam feed screws for the production of PLA foam sheet & food containers. “This licensee is a major player in the European food packaging industry.” said Dave Fogarty, president of PEAL. “Our new customer told us they were unhappy with the quality of the PLA foam food packaging trays currently being made in Europe. They saw an opportunity to introduce much higher quality PLA foam food containers. We are very excited to be a part of the introduction of PLA foam food containers into the European market. It’s a real win-win for both companies.” stated Bill Fogarty, V.P. of Plastic Engineering Associates Licensing, Inc..

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Application News

Salomon SkiBoots with Biobased Hytrel RS The collar of the new Salomon ‘Ghost’ freerider alpine ski-boot constitutes one of the first commercial uses worldwide of DuPont™ Hytrel® RS (renewably-sourced) thermoplastic elastomer. Providing all the traditional performance characteristics of Hytrel for such a demanding winter sports application – including impact resistance and flexibility at low temperatures – the particular grade of Hytrel RS used contains 27 wt % renewably-sourced material. Already familiar with the properties of Hytrel the recent launch of the renewably-sourced grades caught Salomon’s attention as it sought to increase the environmental credentials of its latest alpine skiboots. “We already knew Hytrel could offer the required performance for the collar of our new ‘Ghost’ freerider boots as an alternative to polyurethane,” confirms Pascal Pallatin, alpine boot & advanced research project manager at Salomon (Annecy, France). “The fact that we could now access a grade of the high performance material with a significant renewable content is an additional selling point for our boots.” Hytrel RS thermoplastic elastomers provide all the performance characteristics of traditional Hytrel materials, while offering a more environmentally friendly solution than petroleum-based products. Containing between 20% and 60% renewably-sourced material, Hytrel RS thermoplastic elastomers are made using renewably-sourced polyol derived from corn or other renewable source – and are, as moulding for Salomon confirmed, easily processed by conventional thermoplastic methods. The properties of Hytrel RS of particular relevance to this ski-boot collar application include excellent flex fatigue and flexibility at temperatures as low as -20°C (versus polyurethane) and high impact resistance. The collar is injection moulded as a single piece and coloured white using masterbatch. The Salomon ‘Ghost’ motif is added to the collar using pad printing. Comprehensive field testing by Salomon freeriders has demonstrated that Hytrel RS best fulfils all requirements for the ski-boot collar in terms of elasticity, impact resistance, strength and stiffness. “The freeriders returned with very positive comments on the boot’s behaviour at low temperatures as well as its consistent behaviour over a wide temperature range,” concludes Pascal Pallatin.


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New PLA Clamshell Especially Designed for Pears At Fruit Logistica, the international trade fair for fruit and vegetable marketing Berlin, Germany (4-6 Feb 2009) Italian packaging manufacturer ILIP from Bologna introduced a new packaging designed for pears. Made from PLA, the practical ILIP clamshell has four pockets which accommodate the pears, protecting them from bruising, and is available in two formats, one for medium-sized fruit (65-75 cm) and one for larger fruit (75-85 cm). The base has been designed so that the tray is suspended above the bottom of the container, to keep the fruit in a more protected position. Even the label bearing the Valfrutta brand is made from PLA, resulting in a package that is 100% biodegradable. At the same exhibition an agreement signed earlier this year between ILIP and Valfrutta Fresco was announced. As of this year, all Valfrutta fresh produce will be sold in fully biodegradable packs, exploiting the completeness of the ILIP range of PLA packaging for the fruit and vegetable sector. “We are extremely satisfied with this partnership with Valfrutta,” declared Riccardo Pianesani, legal representative of ILPA srl, ILIP Division, “because it allows us to start 2009 focusing on the issue which is closest to our hearts, namely environmental protection, while involving a leading fruit and vegetable producer in the use of our eco-compatible materials.”

Application News

In-MouldDecorated ThinWalled Injection Moulded Packaging

Plush Chocolates Launch Fairtrade Chocolates with Plantic Packaging

Europlastiques from Laval, France has invested many years in collaborative research into bioplastics from renewable resources. Thus the company has acquired sound knowledge about their characteristics and their processing conditions.

Plush Chocolates from Long Compton, UK, a new 100% Fairtrade company, have just launched their product ranges with ‘eco friendly’ packaging for their Luxury Fairtrade English and Belgian Chocolate collections, made possible through Plantic’s sustainable polymer technology.

This advance enabled the company to select a compostable bioplastic material (PLA based) suited for food contact: Together with Biotech (Sphere Group) Europlastiques developed a material type and the processing conditions for injection moulding it into rigid, thin-walled packing.

Plush Chocolates are known for being made using the finest Fairtrade ingredients. Plush Chocolates chose the Plantic® tray, made from non-GM high amylose corn starch, for its unique combination of functional and environmental benefits. The compostable Plantic trays have a renewable resource content of approximately 85% and offer anti-static and odour barrier solutions, essential for chocolate packaging.

“Now we are confident that we are without doubt among the top European companies in thin-walled injection moulded industrial packaging for the food industry,” as Benjamin Barberot, Directeur Industriel of Europlastiques points out. In addition these new packages can be decorated by in-mould-labelling (IML), the printed label itself being a bioplastic material. The first commercial products using this kind of ‘bio’-materials are just about to be launched to the market. “Upstream of our processing efforts, the agrochemical industry as well as some of the large petrochemical companies are heavily investing. Too,” says Benjamin Barberot, “the industry is intensively researching to find possible alternatives to fossil materials. And with ‘euroBIO’, Europlast is contributing its share by optimizing the processing to best meet the food packaging specifications”

Plush Chocolates wanted their packaging to do three things: reflect the high quality of the chocolates inside by being desirable, tasty and good-looking; show that chocolates made with Fairtrade ingredients can be just as exciting and dynamic as other products; and be ethically sound. Plantic packaging ensured all of these requirements were upheld. In commenting, Sarah Hobbs, Joint Founding Director said, “We are so excited about our ‘eco-friendly’ trays and proud to be among the first people in the UK to sell chocolates in trays made from Plantic. What is particularly impressive about Plantic packaging is that it can be disposed of in a home compost and its energy requirement is approximately half that of petrochemical polymers.” Brendan Morris, Chief Executive Officer, Plantic Technologies, commented, “We are pleased that Plush have chosen to use Plantic biodegradable packaging for their chocolate trays. In doing so, Plush are actively leading the way in sustainable-driven technology, demonstrating their strong commitment to reducing waste and waste management costs, while providing function and performance to their customers”.

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Biodegradability... Article contributed by

Ramani Narayan University Distinguished Professor Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA


iodegradability is an end-of-life option that allows one to harness the power of microorganisms present in the selected disposal environment to completely remove plastic products designed for biodegradability from the environmental compartment via the microbial food chain in a timely, safe, and efficacious manner. Because it is an end-of-life option, and harnesses microorganisms present in the selected disposal environment, one must clearly identify the ‘disposal environment’ when discussing or reporting on the biodegradability of a product – like biodegradability under composting conditions (compostable plastic), under soil conditions, under anaerobic conditions (anaerobic digestors, landfills), or under marine conditions. Specifying time to complete biodegradation or put in a better way time to complete microbial assimilation of the test plastic in the selected disposal environment is an essential requirement – so stating that it will eventually biodegrade or it is partially biodegradable or it is degradable is not acceptable. High school or college biology/biochemistry teaches that microorganisms utilize/consume carbon substrates by transporting the material inside its cell, oxidizing the carbon to CO2, which releases energy that it harnesses for its life processes (discussed in more detail later in the paper). So a measure of the evolved CO2 is a direct measure of the ability of the microorganisms present in that disposal environment to utilize the carbon plastic product. Unfortunately, there is a growing number of misleading, deceptive, and scientifically unsubstantiated biodegradability claims proliferating in the marketplace. This is causing confusion and skepticism among consumers, end-users, and other concerned stakeholders – in turn this is bound to hurt not only the fledgling bioplastics industry, but the plastics industry as a whole. Some examples of manufacturer’s product claims are shown below – the direct quotes from the manufacturer’s web site or product brochure are shown in italics.


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Biodegradable PVC product claim “Biodegradation process begins only when the bio PVC film is introduced into an environment (compost, both commercial and home, trash dump, the ground, lakes, rivers and the ocean) that allows microorganisms, which break down matter, to come into constant contact with the bio PVC film. Once that happens the ‘special ingredients’ attract the microorganisms that begin to break the hydrogen carbon chain that exists in the PVC. Once the chain is broken, this allows oxygen to enter which will attach itself to the hydrogen and carbon creating H2O and CO2. The lone chlorine atom bonds to a hydrogen atom creating a very weak salt that does not have any adverse effect on the ecosystem. The biodegradation process works in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions. So the absence of oxygen or water will not keep the bio PVC film from biodegrading. All that is needed are the microorganisms” There is no scientific data provided to substantiate the complete breakdown and utilization of the PVC by the microorganisms present in the disposal system resulting in CO2 and water as claimed. Furthermore, the proposed mechanistic chemistry describing the process would not pass muster in a high school honors chemistry classroom. However, a major corporation has adopted the biodegradable PVC card as an environmentally responsible ‘green’ solution because it is claimed to be ‘biodegradable’.

Biodegradable PET product claim “By having a more earth friendly PET biodegradable container and becoming a partner in helping to develop effective recycling programs, we can stem the rising tide of plastic pollution and leave our world a better place for future generations. Our bottles are 100% biodegradable in anaerobic (no oxygen, no light), aerobic and compostable environments and can be intermingled with standard PET during recycling. Our patented pending process allows our bottles to be metabolized and neutralized in the environment, turning them into inert humus (biomass), biogas (anaerobic) or CO2 (aerobic)” Again, no scientific data showing the 100% carbon conversion to biogas in an anaerobic environment or CO2 in an aerobic environment using well established standard test methods in literature whether from the OECD, ISO, ASTM, or EN was presented.


Sorting through Facts and Claims Oxo-biodegradable polyethylene (PE) film claims ”The technology is based on a very small amount of prodegradant additive being introduced into the manufacturing process, thereby changing the behavior of the plastic and the rate at which it degrades. The plastic does not just fragment, but is then consumed by bacteria and fungi and therefore continues to degrade to nothing more than carbon dioxide, water and biomass with no toxic or harmful residues to soil, plants or macro-organisms”. “Designed to interact with the microorganisms present in landfills, composters, and almost everywhere in nature including oceans, lakes, and forests. These microorganism metabolize the molecular structure of the plastic breaking it down into soil”. “Combined with an oxo-biodegradable proprietary application method to produce films for bags. This product, when discarded in soil in the presence of microorganisms, moisture, and oxygen, biodegrades, decomposing into simple materials found in nature. Completely breakdown in a landfill environment in 12-24 months leaving no residue or harmful toxins and have a shelf life of 2 years”. In each of the above cases no scientific data showing carbon conversion to CO2 using established standard test methods is documented. Another company claims a biodegradable plastic based on an additive technology different from the oxo-degradable additive class. Their claims reads “Plastic products with our additives at 1% levels will fully biodegrade in 9 months to 5 years wherever they are disposed like composting, or landfills under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions”. However, the graph of percent biodegradation against time in days shows the biodegradation curve reaching a plateau around 20% using a 50% additive master batch. In the final film samples, the recommended level of additive is only 1%. So the observed 20% would be even lower. However, the claim is made that “the results of the aerobic biodegradation tests, indicate, that in time, plastics produced using the 1% additive will fully biodegrade.”

biodegradation curve plateaus. However, if one obtains only 5% or 30% or even 40% biodegradation, there is serious health and environmental consequences caused by the non-degraded fragments as it moves through eco compartments as discussed later.

Fundamental Principles in Biodegradable Plastics Microorganisms (billions of them per gram of soil) are present in the environment. Figure 1 shows a low temperature electron micrograph of a cluster of E. Coli bacteria. Designing plastics and products to be completely consumed (as food) by such microorganisms present in the disposal environment in a short time frame is a safe and environmentally responsible approach for the end-oflife of these single use, short-life disposable packaging and consumer articles. The key phrase is ‘complete ‘ – if they are not completely utilized, then these degraded fragments, which may even be invisible to the naked eye, pose serious environmental consequences. Microorganisms utilize the carbon product to extract chemical energy for their life processes. They do so by: 1. breaking the material (carbohydrates, carbon product) into small molecules by secreting enzymes or the environment (temperature, humidity, sunlight) does it. 2. Transporting the small microorganisms cell.




3. Oxidizing the small molecules (again inside the cell) to CO2 and water, and releasing energy that is utilized by the microorganisms for its life processes in a complex biochemical process involving participation of three metabolically interrelated processes (tricarboxylic acid cycle, electron transport, and oxidative phosphorylation).

Figure 1 (Source:

There are many more such examples of misleading claims. Several offer weight loss and other chemical evidence for the break down of the polymer into fragments. However, little or no evidence is offered that these fragments are completely consumed by the microorganisms present in the disposal environment in a reasonable defined time period. In a few cases evidence presented shows partial biodegradation, after which the

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Politics Unfortunately, all the focus is on demonstrating the break down or degradation of the carbon product (like weight loss, or oxidation levels) but no data on how much and in what time frame did the microorganisms present in the disposal environment consume the carbon food. This is how it gets misused and abused – by focusing only on the degradation but no data showing the utilization of the fragments by the microorganisms present in the disposal environment. Break down (decomposition) by non-biological processes or even biological processes, generates fragments that is utilized by the microorganisms, but also leaves behind fragments (and in some cases 5080% of the original weight) which in many cases has been shown to be detrimental and toxic to the ecosystem. This constitutes only degradation/fragmentation, and not biodegradation. As will be shown later, hydrophobic polymer fragments pose great risk to the environment, unless the degraded fragments are completely consumed as food and energy source by the microorganisms present in the disposal system in a very short period (one year) that is the degraded fragments must be completely removed from the environment by safely entering into the food chain of the microorganisms.

Measurement of Biodegradability Microorganisms use the carbon substrates to extract chemical energy that drives their life processes by aerobic oxidation of glucose and other readily utilizable Csubstrates: C - substrate + 6O2 → 6CO2 + 6H2O, ∆G0 = - 686 kcal/mol (CH2O)x; x = 6 Thus, a measure of the rate and amount of CO2 evolved in the process is a direct measure of the amount and rate of microbial utilization (biodegradation) of the C-polymer. This forms the basis for various international standards for measuring biodegradability or microbial utilization of the test polymer/plastics. Thus, one can measure the rate and extent of biodegradation or microbial utilization of the test plastic material by using it as the sole added carbon source in a test system containing a microbially rich matrix like compost in the presence of air and under optimal temperature conditions (preferably at 58°C – representing the thermophilic phase). Figure 2 shows a typical graphical output that would be obtained if one were to plot the percent carbon from the plastic that is converted to CO2 as a function of time in days. First, a lag phase during which the microbial population adapts to the available test C-substrate. Then, the biodegradation phase during which the adapted microbial population begins to utilize the carbon substrate for its cellular life processes, as measured by the conversion of the carbon in the test material to CO2. Finally, the output reaches a plateau when utilization of the substrate is largely complete. Standards such as ASTM D 6400 (see also D 6868), EN 13432, ISO 17088 etc. are based on this principle.


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The fundamental requirements of these world-wide standards discussed above for complete biodegradation under composting conditions are: 1. Conversion to CO2, water & biomass via microbial assimilation of the test polymer material in powder, film, or granule form. 2. 90% conversion of the carbon in the test polymer to CO2. The 90% level set for biodegradation in the test accounts for a +/- 10% statistical variability of the experimental measurement; in other words, there is an expectation for demonstration of virtually complete biodegradation in the composting environment of the test. 3. Same rate of biodegradation as natural materials – leaves, paper, grass & food scraps 4. Time – 180 days or less; (ASTM D6400 also has the requirement that if radiolabeled polymer is used and the radiolabeled evolved CO2 is measured then the time can be extended to 365 days). Two further requirements are also of importance : Disintegration - <10% of test material on 2mm sieve using the test polymer material in the shape and thickness identical to the product’s final intended use – see ISO 16929 and ISO 20200. Safety – The resultant compost should have no impacts on plants, using OECD Guide 208, Terrestrial Plants, Growth Test or similar such as PAS 100(BSI, 2002). Furthermore, regulated (heavy) metals content in the polymer material should be less than defined thresholds e.g. 50% of EPA (USA, Canada) prescribed threshold.

Need for complete biodegradability A number of polymers in the market place are designed to be degradable, i.e. they fragment into smaller pieces and may even degrade to residues invisible to the naked eye. While it is assumed that the breakdown products will eventually biodegrade there is no data to document complete biodegradability within a reasonably short time period (e.g. a single growing season/one year). Hence hydrophobic, high surface area plastic residues may migrate into water and other compartments of the ecosystem. In a recent Science article Thompson et al. (2004) reported that plastic debris around the globe can erode (degrade) away and end up as microscopic granular or fiber-like fragments, and that these fragments have been steadily accumulating in the oceans. Their experiments show that marine animals consume microscopic bits of plastic, as seen in the digestive tract of an amphipod. The Algalita Marine Research Foundation (see www.algalita. org/pelagic_plastic.html) report that degraded plastic residues can attract and hold hydrophobic elements like PCB and DDT up to one million times background levels. The PCB’s and DDT’s are at background levels in soil, and diluted out so as to not pose significant risk. However, degradable plastic residues with these high surface areas

Politics Environment - soil, compost,waste water plant, marine


biodegradation degree

% C conversion to CO2 (% biodegradation)

90 80

plateau phase





50 40

Polymer chains with susceptible linkages

biodegradation phase



20 10 0


lag phase 20








Oligomers & polymer fragments Complete

defined time


frame, no



CO2 + H2O + Cell biomass


Time (days)

Figure 2: Test method to measure the rate and extent of microbial utilization (biodegradation) of biodegradable plastics

concentrate these chemicals, resulting in a toxic legacy in a form that may pose risks in the environment. Japanese researchers (Mato et al., 2001) have similarly reported that PCBs, DDE, and nonylphenols (NP) can be detected in high concentrations in degraded polypropylene (PP) resin pellets collected from four Japanese coasts. This work indicates that plastic residues may act as a transport medium for toxic chemicals in the marine environment. Therefore, designing hydrophobic polyolefin plastics, like polyethylene (PE) to be degradable, without ensuing that the degraded fragments are completely assimilated by the microbial populations in the disposal infrastructure in a short time period, has the potential to harm the environment more than if it was not made degradable. These concepts are illustrated in Figure 3 which shows that heat, moisture, sunlight and/or enzymes shorten and weaken polymer chains, resulting in fragmentation of the plastic and some cross-linking creating more intractable persistent residues. It is even possible to accelerate the breakdown of the plastics in a controlled fashion to generate these fragments, some of which could be microscopic and invisible to the naked eye. However, this degradation/fragmentation is not biodegradation per see and these degraded, hydrophobic polymer fragments pose potential risks in the environment unless they are completely assimilated by the microbial populations present in the disposal system in a relatively short period.

Summary The take home message is very simple -Biodegradability is an end-of-life option for single use disposable, packaging, and consumer plastics that harnesses microbes to completely utilize the carbon substrate and remove it from the environmental compartment -- entering into the microbial food chain. However, biodegradability must be defined and constrained by the following elements:

Figure 3: Complete biodegradation

 The disposal system – composting, anaerobic digestor, soil, marine.  Time required for complete microbial utilization in the selected disposal environment – short defined time frame, and in the case of composting the time frame is defined as 180 days or less.  Complete utilization of the substrate carbon by the microorganisms as measured by the evolved CO2 (aerobic) and CO2 + CH4 (anaerobic) leaving no residues.  Degradability, partial biodegradability, or will eventually biodegrade is not an option! – Serious health and environmental consequences can occur as documented in literature.  Measured quantitatively by established International, and National Standard Specifications -- ASTM D6400 for composting environment, ASTM D6868 for coatings on paper substrates in composting environment, ASTM D7081 marine environment, European specification, EN13432 for compostable packaging, and International ISO 17088 for composting environment.  If other disposal environments like landfills, anaerobic digestor, soil, and marine are specified, then data must be provided showing time required for complete biodegradation using established standardized ASTM, ISO, EN, OECD methods.  All stakeholders should review biodegradability claims against ‘data’ and if necessary use a third party independent laboratory to verify and validate the data using established standardized test methods and specifications, and based on the fundamental principles and concepts outlined in this paper.

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Life Cycle Assessment of Bioplastics Extract from a Position Paper of European Bioplastics e.V. Berlin, Germany

Introduction Topics such as sustainable development, fossil and natural resources availability, global climate change and waste reduction are increasingly dominating political and industrial agendas. Therefore, the relevance of the environmental performance of processes, products and services in decision-making is rapidly growing. The relatively new group of materials called bioplastics1 does offer new opportunities to contribute to these debates. A wide range of bioplastics is currently available on the market. (…) This growing market has also led to an increasing interest in the sustainability1 of these new materials. (…) The key measurement tool to assess products’ or services’ environmental impact is the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Through LCA it is possible to account for all the environmental impacts associated with a product or service, covering all stages in a product’s life, from the extraction of resources to ultimate disposal. LCA is the tool that allows measurement of and reporting on current impacts, alternative scenarios and improvements achieved.

LCA can provide data:  to improve the general understanding of the life cycle of products;  to substantiate environmental and economical decisions concerning e.g. process and products improvements, selection of products or services, selection of feedstock, energy carriers and raw materials, and selection of production locations and waste management systems;  for corporate environmental and waste management policies as well as for regulatory and legislative measurements;  on how to position (promote) products in the market;  to the users and the final consumers to enable them to make more informed choices; and

1: for a definition, please refer to the Glossary on pages 46 f


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 which is necessary for the identification and steering of future developments.


LCA results are increasingly being considered as a key input in decision making processes, therefore European Bioplastics has taken this opportunity to outline its position on the LCA tool and its relationship to bioplastics as follows.

European Bioplastics supports LCA and Life Cycle Thinking European Bioplastics supports LCA and Life Cycle Thinking in order to promote, quantify and substantiate the environmental sustainability of products. It is crucial to take the complete product life cycle into account, because products may have totally different environmental impacts during different stages of their life cycle. Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) is concerned with analysing complete systems and avoiding problems being shifted from one life cycle stage to another, from one geographic area to another and from one environmental medium to another.

LCA provides data to allow better informed decisions, but being a complex tool it needs careful and knowledgeable use LCA is a tool to assess products and generates one of the many inputs in decision making processes. Despite the existence of ISO standards, the number of degrees of freedom for conducting LCAs remains significant. During a study the LCA practitioner has to make many choices and define criteria which can significantly influence the final results. LCA also has a clear subjective dimension: its results always require a weighing of the impact category scores and a final interpretation of the results. LCA is a vital tool, but when using it as a basis for decisions it is necessary to keep in mind its limitations and partly subjective character. LCA enables substantiation and justification of a decision, but never delivers the ‘final result’ or the decision itself. Despite these limitations LCA is the most comprehensive and reliable tool available to assess the environmental performance of products or services. Besides the outcome of the LCA, it is advised to also

consider other aspects in the life cycle of products such as safety, consumer use and hygiene. ‘LCA derived measures’ in politics or legislation as well as strong media statements on individual LCA results can have a significant impact on economic or social systems as well as for companies. It is very important that all available information is taken into account and not simply a discrete result of one single LCA. The complexity of the issue – as outlined in this paper - does not allow simple conclusions.

Industry should be involved in LCA studies Experts from industry should be involved in LCA studies from an early stage. They are able to deliver specific knowledge and insights that external experts need in order to conduct the LCA in a correct manner. This also applies to the bioplastics sector.

‘THE’ life cycle assessment of bioplastics does not exist There is no such thing as ‘THE Life cycle assessment of bioplastics’. LCA applies to specified products (goods and services), taking into consideration their complete life cycle. The final conclusions about the environmental performance of bioplastic applications depend on many different parameters. These include the type of bioplastics used, the raw materials used, the production and conversion technology, the product, transport media and distances and the consumer use phase as well as the used waste collection and disposal or recycling system(s). There are no simple answers. It is not possible to make generalisations such as “bioplastics are better or worse than other materials”.

The optimisation potential for bioplastics is huge. This potential should be included in the LCA, otherwise it becomes a tool which tends to hinder innovation Bioplastics are still in their early stage of development. They are produced in small scale or singular facilities and transport, conversion, product design and final disposal are not being optimised. They are however quite often

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compared with mature materials whose life cycles have been optimised over several decades. This often leads to a biased comparison. LCA practitioners should always include possible optimization steps for innovative materials. By not including future outlooks for new materials, LCA is becoming a tool, which tends to hinder innovation in its early stage. This has never been the intention of this tool. It is the key responsibility of the LCA practitioner to provide a balanced view. It is also recommended that the final user of the LCA results check whether improvement options have been taken into account. (…)

‘Newcomers’ are often scrutinized, while existing materials are often much less questioned. This should be more balanced in LCAs New materials and products derived from them, such as bioplastics are often closely scrutinized, while many existing products ‘on the shelf’ are much less thoroughly examined. Within their life cycle bioplastics are often ‘put under the microscope’ while the impact of e.g. oil or gas production is often modelled using fewer details (using data from generic databases) or sometimes totally ignored (accidents with oil tankers and their impact on the environment). A more balanced approach is required. European Bioplastics recognizes that novel products require careful analysis, but mature and young innovative products should be compared on an equal basis.

Comparative product LCAs should ensure that only products with the same function are compared One of the key preconditions in comparative LCAs is that only products which have exactly the same function in the market place are compared – an aspect of LCA which is often underestimated. Only packaging for the same product and for the same delivery system may be compared. Sometimes in LCA studies generic categories of packaging are compared with no attention to their functions.

Renewable carbon accounting should form part of an LCA Bioplastics using renewable feedstock do offer an intrinsic reduced carbon footprint depending on the amount of renewable carbon in the product. Biobased plastics use renewable or biogenic carbon as a building block. This biogenic carbon is captured from the atmosphere by plants during the growth process and converted into the required raw materials. When the product is being incinerated at the end of its useful life, the biogenic carbon is returned to the atmosphere – or in other words, cycled in a closed biogenic CO2 loop, referred to as being carbon-


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neutral. Therefore the term ‘carbon-neutral’ only refers to the biogenic carbon. Automatic consideration of bioplastics as ‘carbonneutral’ and consequently leaving out the biogenic carbon from the life cycle inventory is not supported for many reasons. (…) Hence biogenic carbon must be considered in a LCA, just like any other input or output and not be omitted from the study.

Bioplastics offer new recovery and final disposal options. LCA can help to evaluate these new options Bioplastics can be treated in many different waste management systems such as energy recovery, mechanical recycling, composting, anaerobic digestion and chemical recycling. This means that bioplastics can offer more recovery options than traditional products that are not suitable for composting. As with any material, landfill should be avoided since this represents a loss of useful material and energy. The optimum choice depends on various factors such as the composition of the bioplastic, the application, the volume on the market and the available (from a technical and legislative point of view) regional waste management infrastructure for collection and processing. Therefore the end of life of bioplastics can be rather complex and LCA should provide the required information to make the best choice. The selected recovery or final disposal option will influence the outcome of an LCA. Therefore it has to be set up most carefully, also considering possible indirect beneficial effects. These include for instance, the possibility of obtaining homogeneous organic waste streams suitable for organic recycling in the case of compostable bioplastics, or the possi-bility of producing green energy in the case of incineration of renewable bioplastics.

LCA is an analytical tool, not a communication tool LCA is a good tool with which to assess the environmental performance of products. However, it is too complex to use to communicate the environmental performance of products to final consumers. The ‘translation and interpretation’ of the outcome of LCAs into environmental messages, which are commonly understandable calls for other tools. This is an extract of the Position Paper. (…) indicates

where paragraphs had to be dropped for space reasons. The full text of this Position Paper can be downloaded from LCA_PositionPaper.pdf

Mark your calendar !

2 PLA Bottle nd


14-16 September 2009 Munich, Germany Holiday Inn City Centre At the same time as drinktec 2009

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From Science & Research

The availability of fermentable carbohydrate Article contributed by Toby Heppenstall, Lucite Intl., Southampton, UK

as a feedstock for bio-based platform chemicals and bioplastics


any chemicals and plastics manufacturers are beginning to consider the opportunities presented by Industrial Biotechnology; the biosynthesis of bulk and fine chemicals mainly by fermentation processes from renewable agricultural feedstocks. Due to the widespread commercial interest in bioethanol, much has been written about feedstock type and availability forecasts. In general however, studies have estimated feedstock quantities by computing ‘necessary amounts’ from demand-side projections. A new study by a manager in the chemical industry attempts for the first time to derive a supply-side view of the availability in Europe of fermentable feedstocks for the biosynthetic industries. Quantitative results are provided by two models developed for the study. The first is an interactive model of potential surplus cereal supply (including straw) based on gross shifts in population and land usage. The second is a supply curve for Miscanthus, a potential ‘energy crop’ feedstock for second generation lignocellulosic fermentation. The Miscanthus supply curve is based upon a cost model over the whole production cycle (perennial grass crops have very different economics to annual arable crops). Input variables include the opportunity cost of land in different parts of Europe, and critically, the achievable yield on

different qualities of land1. The resulting minimum entry price for cultivation in each region can be plotted against cumulative quantity resulting in a supply curve as below. The supply curve derived is consistent with the current situation. With current prices just above €40/t, the maximum that can afford to be paid by the power generation industry, it is unsurprising that little more than ‘research and development’ quantities have been brought into cultivation in Europe. This result also provides independent support for the commonly held view that in the current paradigm at least; Miscanthus has the potential to become a minor crop but not a leading agricultural commodity. To make predictions, these models must be placed in some sort of context. The majority of platform chemicals relevant to bioplastics will be produced by fermentation and as such only fermentable feedstocks were the subject of this study. However, the economic driver for the sector will be the production of liquid transport fuel. The lion’s share of output from biorefineries will be biofuels. Therefore the mix of feedstocks available to fermentation buyers will be determined by the optimum input for the biofuel production process that becomes dominant, whether or not this process is fermentation. Framing the uncertainty in this way sheds light on the issue from the perspective of technological evolution. Recognising that industrial biosynthesis is in a period of intense and uncertain technological upheaval, a battle for dominance is underway. The key defining element for all players is the dominant design of the fuel biorefining process and the widely accepted theory of dominant design postulates that only one of these processes will ultimately prevail.


Price [€/t]

€ 120,00 € 80,00

€ 80,00 € 40,00

€ 70,00


€60,00 Supply Quantity / ktes Price [€/t]

€ 0,00 0

2.36m ha

Figure 1, Supply curve for Miscanthus in Europe, with lower section magnified.


30m ha

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2.36m ha 2.36m ha

€ 50,00

€ 40,00 0




Supply Quantity [t]



Using this insight, three plausible scenarios are derived, based on the mutually exclusive dominance of either 2nd generation (lignocellulosic) ethanol, 2nd generation biodiesel (derived from a

From Science & Research low cost and low impact oil such as algae), and thermodynamic syndiesel. A fourth scenario of low oil price was also considered, in which progress to ‘2nd generation’ technology biofuels is entirely absent. Principal Biorefinery Process  Crude Price


Fermentation Dominant

Esterification Dominant

Thermochemical Dominant

‘Gasohol’ Scenario

‘The Algae Age‘ Scenario

‘Synfuels’ Scenario


‘Technology Stagnation’ Scenario

Figure 2: Interplay of the three Critical Uncertainties in the scenario structure The econometric models are then tailored to each scenario: For example in the gasohol scenario, the vast demand for carbohydrate for fermentation would drive increased supply of both 1st generation (starchy) and 2nd generation (grassy) crops. Assumptions are made for incorporation into the supply models, about resulting shifts in land availability and usage, and government policy support for growers in this context. The resulting output suggests that an aggregate supply of between 43 and 175 million tonnes (depending on the scenario) of fermentable carbohydrate2 is feasible. These quantities represent an equivalent amount of ethanol to replace between 7 and 20% of all transport fuel and would be sufficient to supply likely total demand for bio-bulk chemicals, between eight times and forty times over. SCENARIO



Surplus Cereal

Others-Sugar Others - Ryegrass



89.7 M

55.7 M

25.7 M

9.3 M

180.4 M

55.7 M

13.6 M



55.7 M

13.6 M

‘Algae Age’ ‘Synfuels’

20.9 M

‘Tech Stagnation’

90.2 M

22 M

21.7 M

43.7 M

Figure 3: Total Supply of fermentable carbohydrate (not tonnes of commmodity) in each scenario As a digression it is interesting to consider the maximum purchase prices that might be feasible for Miscanthus, depending on the relevant end-use industry in the different scenarios; bioethanol, bio-bulk chemicals, and thermochemical. Theoretical price points can be derived from the market price of the relevant end-product, taking account of total production cost in each case and the cost proportion of the feedstock. Price points are overlaid as ‘demand functions’ on the Miscanthus supply curve as below: €100,00 Poss Price for Bulk Chems  € 90,00

Price [€/]

€ 80,00 Max Price for Bioethanol (benchmark current ethanol)


2: Note the unit mass of fermentable carbohydrate. Different feedstock crops have different carbohydrate content. The assumption is made that 1 tonne of plant carbohydrate (Starch, cellulose, or hemiocellulose) yields 1 tonne fermentable sugar (glucose, sucrose, dextrose, xylose), which is a little crude but holds theoretically true.

Max Price for Thermochemical (benchmark diesel, oil at $126/bbl)

€ 60,00

Max Price for Bioethanol (benchmark petrol, oil at $126/bbl)

€ 50,00

Price to POWER Industry

€ 40,00 € 30,00 0

1: The author is indebted to John Clifton Brown of IGER, Aberystwyth UK for sharing raw yield data of Miscanthus for all NUTS2 administrative regions in the EU. Cultivation cost data is based on primary research with Miscanthus producers in th UK in 2008.









90.000 100.000

Supply Quantity / kt

Figure 4: Supply curve for Miscanthus in Europe with price points Other conclusions from the MBA thesis as well as a list of references can be found at

The author is not an economist nor a professional research scientist. This article summarises an MBA thesis which drew on the body of existing literature on industrial biosynthesis as well as primary research with supply-side industry professionals. The analysis is original. The author’s intention is to add information and stimulate discussion in the area, not to claim absolute accuracy.

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Basics of PLA Article contributed* by Dr. Rainer Hagen, Vice President and Product Manager, Uhde Inventa-Fischer GmbH, Berlin, Germany

Industrial composting  

Most attractive method of disposal based on public acceptance No recovery of material and energy

Mechanical recycling  

Loss of product properties cannot be recovered ‘Downcycling’

Burning (energy recycling) 

Competition between human food, industrial lactic acid and PLA production is not to be expected: For example, using PLA as substitute for 5% of the German packaging plastics consumption requires only 0.5% (sugar beet) to 1.25% (wheat) of the agricultural area available. At the same time, approximately 30% of the available area lies fallow mainly for economic reasons. Research is in progress on processes and micro-organisms that produce lactic acid from cellulose coming from agricultural residues such as maize stalks or straw.

Figure 1: Methods of PLA Recycling fossil raw material

Total Fossil Energy [GJ/ t plastic]

140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0

PA 6




Source: M. Patel, R. Narayan, in Natural Fibers, Biopolymers and Biocomposites, A. Mohanty, M. Misra, L. Drzal, Taylor & Francis Group, 2005, Boca Raton.

Figure 2: Consumption of Fossil Resources by PLA vs. Polymers from Fossil Feedstock - ‘cradle to gate’


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At temperatures below its glass transition point (e.g. 55°C, depending on comonomer content) PLA is as stable as PET or PBT. Only in an industrial composting facility, the high temperature (60°C) and humidity required for the hydrolysis are achieved. After hydrolysis, PLA is biologically degradable by common micro-organisms. Lactic acid, the monomer building block of PLA can frequently be found in plants and animals as a by-product or intermediate product of metabolism. Lactic acid is non-toxic.

Lactic acid can be industrially produced from a number of starch or sugar containing agricultural products.

Back into polymerisation Collecting and sorting to be solved yet

fossil fuel

Polylactide or Polylactic Acid (PLA) is a synthetic, aliphatic polyester from lactic acid. For industrial applications, such as fibres, films and bottles, the chain length n should be between 700 and 1400. This is significantly higher than with partially aromatic polyesters like PET and PBT where n is between 100 and 200. Therefore, the requirements on both raw material purity and technical effort are much higher.

Non-depleting properties of PLA

Recovers ‘green energy’

Chemical recycling  


Several recycling methods can be applied to waste PLA (Fig. 1). Composting allows only moderate benefits. In future, sorting, purification of PLA waste and re-feeding into the polymerisation plant seems to be the most attractive way of recovery. PLA – like other biopolymers – is often criticised for the need of process energy from fossil resources. Even if this is the case at present, 1 kg of PLA represents less energy equivalents than 1 kg of polymers from petrochemical


feedstock (Fig. 2). Consequently, PLA producers can also reap financial benefits by trading CO2 emission certificates (Fig. 3).

Process Routes to PLA Several Process Routes have been developed or are practised on industrial scale: Ring Opening Polymerisation (ROP), Direct Polycondensation in high boiling solvents (DP S), and Direct Polymerisation in bulk followed by chain extension with reactive additives. ROP is the route which delivers by far the highest proportion of PLA chips available on the market. The other routes produce only minor amounts or did not get past the pilot scale. Figure 4 depicts the steps of a ROP process, starting from lactic acid. In the first part lactide is formed, which – after fine purification – is converted by ROP to PLA.

Processing of PLA A major advantage of PLA is the possibility to process the polymer on common process equipment. Especially the converters of polyolefins do not require a change to other process equipment. They only need to change the handling of granulate. It is very important to dry the polymer before processing otherwise it will degrade. Water and high temperatures (up to 240°C) facilitate fast degradation.

7 6

[kg CO2 eq/kg]

If process energy is supplied by biomass, e.g. biogas, the fossil energy required for 1 kg PLA can be cut by half, thus duplicating the benefits from trading CO2 emission certificates. Additionally, significant potential exists for saving process energy by improving lactic acid and polymerisation technologies.


5 4 3 2 1 0

PA 6




Source: M. Patel, R.N arayan, in Natural Fibers, Biopolymers and Biocomposites, A. Mohanty , M. Misra , L. Drzal, Taylor & Francis Group, 2005, Boca Raton.

Figure 3: CO2 Emissions by PLA vs. polymers from fossil feedstock - ‘cradle to gate’

Lactic Acid Water to Hydrolysis

Evaporation/Distillation Water, Lactic Acid

Concentrated Lactic Acid Pre-condensation Purge


Pre-polymer Formation of Cyclic Dimer Crude Lactide

see Fig. 5

Lactide Purification Highly Purified Lactide Ring Opening Polymerisation


Polylactide with Monomer Demonomerisation/Stabilisation

PLA is a polymer which can be processed by:  injection moulding  sheet extrusion  extrusion blow moulding  thermoforming


Figure 4: Steps of a PLA Process with Ring Opening Polymerisation

 stretch blow moulding  injection stretch blow moulding  fibre spinning  non woven spinning, spun bonding

Properties of PLA PLA is a crystal clear, transparent material when amorphous that becomes the hazier the higher the crystallinity. Crystallized material is opaque. When producing lactide, meso-lactide is formed as a by-product. It is difficult to separate the meso-lactide from the Llactide in the purification step. When polymerizing L-

Figure 5: Ring opening Polymerisation

bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/09] Vol. 4



Table 1: Properties of PLA Types Type





160-180 °C

55-65 °C 55 °C 60 °C 55 °C

45-55 Mpa 3-5 % 50-200 % 3-5 % 5-10 %

220-230 °C 185-195 °C

Tm - melting temperature Tg - glass transition temperature Eb - elongation at break σn - tensile strength at break


lactide with small contents of meso-lactide a co-polymer is formed. Increasing meso-lactide leads to decreasing crystallinity. With more than 10-15% meso-lactide the polymer is amorphous. By varying the amount of meso-lactide the properties of the polymer can be adjusted for specific applications. One of the reasons for the limited consumption of PLA up to now is the low thermal resistance. The Tg (glass transition temperature) is about 55°C depending on comonomer content to a small extent (Table 1). Methods of improving thermal resistance are to prepare a stereo complex (sc PLA) or a stereo-block copolymer (sbc PLA). Melting point and heat distortion temperature (HDT) will increase significantly. Improving the thermal properties can extend the applications of PLA considerably in the future. There are also various additives that improve the properties of PLA with respect to impact strength, melt viscosity, HDT, crystallinity etc.

Perspective PLA combines all prerequisites of sustainability with important properties of well established polymers. Applications have already been found in many niches of packaging and textile products. Within those niches fast growth of consumption is expected to continue depending on the availability of PLA polymer. High research activity is dedicated to overcome typical weaknesses of PLA – low impact strength and low heat distortion temperature – and to develop tailor-made PLA grades in order to serve special applications. These activities will conquer new niches for PLA and will help to increase PLA consumption at high velocity. Other growth factors are the availability and prices of crude oil, agricultural products and production plants and technology. Within the foreseeable future PLA will not become a commodity polymer like PE, PP, PS – this is considered to be an advantage both for PLA producers and converters. However, this could change in the long term. *: The article is based on a contribution to a book, submitted for publication in T. Haas, M. Kircher, T. Köhler, G. Wich, U. Schörken, R. Hagen, White Biotechnology, in R. Höfer, Ed., Sustainable solutions for modern economies, The Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, forthcoming 2009, ISBN 9781847559050.


bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/09] Vol. 4

Pland Paper速 ( PLA and Paper ) means PLA coated on paper with no additives. This eco-friendly paper is made from all renewable materials and carried the same characters just like PE coated paper. Food Containers made from this paper are safe to load hot coffee and soup, because Pland Paper速 is all Nature made. For more information, please visit or contact

Pland Paper

WeiMon Industry Co., Ltd. - 2F, No.57, Singjhong Rd., NeiHu, District, Taipei City 114, Taiwan, R.O.C. Environmental Materials Division TEL: +886-2-27953131 ext. 142


The Current Status of Bioplastics Development in Japan Article contributed by Isao Inomata, Adviser, JapanBioPlastics Association, Tokyo, Japan

Fig 1: Envelopes with a biomass-based plastic window

Introduction Today global warming is a major concern for many people all over the world. That is why bioplastics is the subject of a good deal of attention. Bioplastics are the key material which will contribute to the sustainable supply of useful plastics for everyday life without increasing carbon dioxide concentration in the air (Carbon Neutral Concept). In various business sectors in Japan many companies have undertaken efforts to utilise biomass-based plastics in their product lines. Japan BioPlastics Association (JBPA) was established in 1989, initially as biodegradable Plastics Society (BPS). With about 240 member companies JBPA today continues to promote the recognition and the business activities of biodegradable plastics and biomass-based plastics. JBPA is working hard on a global networking cooperation with other areas in the world. Cooperation already started with BPI (USA) and European Bioplastics e.V (Europe) in 2001, with BMG (China) in 2004, and with TBIA (Thailand). One declared goal is to establish a globally harmonised standard and certification system for biodegradable plastics and biomass-based plastics.

The definition of bioplastics

Fig 2: Packaging of fresh food

Bioplastics in JBPAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s definition comprises both biodegradable plastics and biomass-based plastics. As in many other countries, there is still some confusion in Japan about the different concepts of Biodegradable plastics and Biomass-based plastics. Basically the two concepts are completely independent of each other. Some bioplastics are biobased and others are biodegradable. Many bioplastics however, such as PLA or PHA meet both criteria. The group of biomass-based plastics is constantly growing and, because of the recent developments in biochemistry, many monomer chemicals for plastics will be able to be manufactured from biomass resources at a similar cost to petroleum based plastics in the near future. The development of polyolefins from bio-ethanol, so-called bio-polyethylene and bio-polypropylene, is a typical example and their market relevance will significantly increase in the future.


bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/09] Vol. 4


Fig 3: membership cards

Fig 4: Kids‘ shoes: mixed PLA/PET fabric (upper) and soft PLA compound (sole)

Big concern of Japanese government about the bioplastics In 2002 the Japanese government decided on two strategic policies called ‘Biotechnology Strategy Guidelines’ and ‘Biomass Nippon Strategy’.

Fig 5: wrapping film cutter

made from petroleum based plastics, and to promote BiomassPla product development (see bM 02/2008, p. 38/39). In this system the definition of biomass-based plastics is:

In the ‘Biotechnology Strategy Guidelines’ the Japanese government set down a clear target for a remarkable increase in the demand for biomass-based plastics. In response to this strategy many products were launched onto the market.

“High-polymer materials produced from raw materials which can be obtained by chemical or biological synthesis and that contain substances derived from renewable organic resources. (Excludes chemically unmodified nonthermoplastic natural organic high-polymer materials.)“

Many producers are now using biomass-based materials, especially for everyday packaging products, and are confident of finding a high level of consumer acceptance. For example, a postal envelope with a biomass-based plastic window (Fig. 1) was the first registered biomassbased plastic product to be listed in the ‘Green Purchasing Law’ of the Environment Ministry of Japan. It is now widely used by municipal offices and companies in Japan that have a high level of environmental concern.

The most important aspect of JBPA’s definition is to utilise the biomass resources as raw materials for their production, not for simply compounded mixtures.

The packaging of fresh food (Fig. 2) however, is one of the ideal fields of applications for biodegradable plastics. Here compostability can be used as just one of their end of life options. On the other hand, due a lack of sufficient composting infrastructure in Japan, preference is given in many cases to the concept of biomass-based products. Some of the products, such as shrink sleeves and cap seals, have succeeded in utilising the characteristic properties of biomass-based plastics. These are the results of an improvement in the material itself as well as the processing technology of the biomass-based plastics. Most of the technological development has been done to utilise PLA as the base plastic.

BiomassPla certification systems To respond to market concerns and the requests from the industry, JBPA started the BiomassPla certification system in 2006 to clearly distinguish between products on the market made from biomass-based plastics and those

JBPA’s system is based on: 1) The positive list system for all biomass-based plastics and their compounds, film etc. 2) Biomass-based plastic ratio requirement: minimum 25% of the products measured by C14 measurement (ASTM D6866-05) 3) No components having any non-usable material as decided by JBPA At present more than 60 products are already registered in this system.

Biomass-based plastics products in the Japanese market The first product registered according to the BiomassPla Certification system is the membership card of the main sales chain of automobile related products (Fig. 3). This also shows the high level of concern regarding the ‘Carbon Neutral Concept’ in the Japanese automobile industry. The kids‘ shoes shown in (Fig. 4) are made from a mixed PLA/PET fabric in the upper part. The sole is made of a soft PLA compound with good elastic properties. A full body shrink-sleeve for beverage bottles was launched on the market in spring 2008. It is now one of the

bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/09] Vol. 4



Fig 6: Textile applications

Fig 8: Mobile phone housing

Fig 9: Note book PC housing most popular products made of biomass-based plastics which can be found in most convenience stores in Japan. Fig. 5 shows a wrapping film cutter that was originally made of steel. It was then produced from PLA because of its excellent cutting performance together with its safety, and the advantage of having no metal parts to dispose of. In the field of textile applications many high grade products have been launched on the market as shown in Fig. 6. At the G-8 world summit meeting and the related conference in Hokkaido, Japan, a needle carpet made of PLA caught the attention of the top politicians worldwide (Fig. 7).

Applications in durable products A most impressive area of application in Japan is in the field of durable products. Japanese companies have been making significant efforts to utilise biomass-based plastics for durable products such as consumer electronics and automobile products on the basis of the latest material chemistry and processing technology improvements. Fig 7: Needle carpet made of PLA (at G8 World Summit Meeting Hokkaido 2008)

The housing for the NTT DOCOMO mobile phone (Fig. 8) is made of a kenaf-fibre-reinforced PLA composite developed by Yunitika. Fujitsu presented a notebook PC with a housing made of a PLA/PC nano-blend developed by Toray (Fig. 9) Fuji-Xerox launched a copying machine for which PLA blend materials were used in the movable parts. One of the first automobile related products was a PLAbased floor mat presented by Toyota in 2003. And many Japanese car manufactures are continuously developing and launching various products (as can be seen in this and previous â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;automotiveâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; issues of bioplastics MAGAZINE).


bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/09] Vol. 4


April 23 , 2009 Bioplastics Processing and Properties Loughborough University, UK

March 02-04, 2009 Sustainability in Packaging Rosen Plaza Hotel Orlando, Florida, USA

March 11-13 , 2009 9th International Automobile Recycling Congress The Westin Grand Munich, Arabellapark Munich Germany

March 12, 2009 Conference on sustainable packaging within the framework of Anuga FoodTec Kölnmesse, Cologne Germany

June 22-26, 2009 NPE2009: The International Plastics Showcase McCormick Place Chicago, Illinois, USA

September 9-10, 2009 7th Int. Symposium „Materials made of Renewable Resources“ Messe Erfurt Erfurt, Germany

You can meet us!

Please contact us in advance by e-mail.

February 25-27, 2009 GPEC (Global Plastics Environmental Conference) Disney‘s Coronado Springs Resort Orlando, Florida, USA

September 2009 2nd PLA Bottle Conference hosted by bioplastics MAGAZINE within the framework of drinktec Munich / Germany September 28-30, 2009 Biopolymers Symposium 2009 Embassy Suites, Lakefront - Chicago Downtown Chicago, Illinois, USA

March 16-18 , 2009 World Biofuels Markets Brussels Expo Brussels, Belgium Anz_SusPack_4c_210x148_en:09-01-26 27.01.2009 11:32 Uhr Seite 1

Conference on

© | Ernesto Solla Domínguez | Oktay Ortakcioglu | Hanquan Chen

sustainable packaging th 09 March 12 200 – 17:00 Koelnmesse, 09:0

The future of food packaging

In the course of the Anuga FoodTec With simultaneous translation

The discussions about environmental protection, recycling and resource shortages during the last few years have enhanced the search for “sustainable packaging solutions”. The conference aims at giving the participants an overview of the political framework, market developments, influence factors, new options and ecological assessments.

Entrance Conference incl. catering 350€ plus VAT. With the purchase of the ticket you will receive a free pass for the international trade fair Anuga FoodTec (March 10th – 13th 2009)



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Suppliers Guide

1.3 PLA

1.6 masterbatches

3.1.1 cellulose based films

1. Raw Materials

BASF SE Global Business Management Biodegradable Polymers Carl-Bosch-Str. 38 67056 Ludwigshafen, Germany Tel. +49-621 60 43 878 Fax +49-621 60 21 694

Division of A&O FilmPAC Ltd 7 Osier Way, Warrington Road GB-Olney/Bucks. MK46 5FP Tel.: +44 1234 88 88 61 Fax: +44 1234 888 940 1.4 starch-based bioplastics

PolyOne Avenue Melville Wilson, 2 Zoning de la Fagne 5330 Assesse Belgium Tel. + 32 83 660 211

INNOVIA FILMS LTD Wigton Cumbria CA7 9BG England Contact: Andy Sweetman Tel. +44 16973 41549 Fax +44 16973 41452 4. Bioplastics products

1.1 bio based monomers

Sukano Products Ltd. Chaltenbodenstrasse 23 CH-8834 Schindellegi Tel. +41 44 787 57 77 BIOTEC Biologische +41 44 787 57 78 Naturverpackungen GmbH & Co. KG Fax Werner-Heisenberg-Straße 32 Du Pont de Nemours International S.A. 46446 Emmerich 2, Chemin du Pavillon, PO Box 50 2. Additives / Germany CH 1218 Le Grand Saconnex, Secondary raw materials Tel. +49 2822 92510 Geneva, Switzerland Fax +49 2822 51840 Tel. + 41 22 717 5428 Fax + 41 22 717 5500 Du Pont de Nemours International S.A. 1.2 compounds 2, Chemin du Pavillon, PO Box 50 CH 1218 Le Grand Saconnex, Geneva, Switzerland Tel. + 41(0) 22 717 5428 Fax + 41(0) 22 717 5500 Plantic Technologies GmbH Heinrich-Busold-Straße 50 3. Semi finished products D-61169 Friedberg BIOTEC Biologische Germany Naturverpackungen GmbH & Co. KG Tel. +49 6031 6842 650 3.1 films Werner-Heisenberg-Straße 32 Tel. +44 794 096 4681 (UK) 46446 Emmerich Fax +49 6031 6842 656 Germany Tel. +49 2822 92510 Fax +49 2822 51840 1.5 PHA Huhtamaki Forchheim Herr Manfred Huberth Zweibrückenstraße 15-25 91301 Forchheim Tel. +49-9191 81305 Telles, Metabolix – ADM joint venture Fax +49-9191 81244 Mobil +49-171 2439574 650 Suffolk Street, Suite 100 Lowell, MA 01854 USA Tel. +1-97 85 13 18 00 FKuR Kunststoff GmbH Fax +1-97 85 13 18 86 Siemensring 79 D - 47 877 Willich Tel. +49 2154 9251-26 Maag GmbH Tel.: +49 2154 9251-51 Leckingser Straße 12 58640 Iserlohn Germany Tel. + 49 2371 9779-30 Fax + 49 2371 9779-97 Tianan Biologic No. 68 Dagang 6th Rd, Beilun, Ningbo, China, 315800 Tel. +86-57 48 68 62 50 2 Transmare Compounding B.V. Fax +86-57 48 68 77 98 0 Ringweg 7, 6045 JL Roermond, The Netherlands Tel. +31 475 345 900 Fax +31 475 345 910 Sidaplax UK : +44 (1) 604 76 66 99 Sidaplax Belgium: +32 9 210 80 10 Plastic Suppliers: +1 866 378 4178


bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/09] Vol. 4

alesco GmbH & Co. KG Schönthaler Str. 55-59 D-52379 Langerwehe Sales Germany: +49 2423 402 110 Sales Belgium: +32 9 2260 165 Sales Netherlands: +31 20 5037 710 |

Arkhe Will Co., Ltd. 19-1-5 Imaichi-cho, Fukui 918-8152 Fukui, Japan Tel. +81-776 38 46 11 Fax +81-776 38 46 17

Forapack S.r.l Via Sodero, 43 66030 Poggiofi orito (Ch), Italy Tel. +39-08 71 93 03 25 Fax +39-08 71 93 03 26

Minima Technology Co., Ltd. Esmy Huang, Marketing Manager No.33. Yichang E. Rd., Taipin City, Taichung County 411, Taiwan (R.O.C.) Tel. +886(4)2277 6888 Fax +883(4)2277 6989 Mobil +886(0)982-829988 Skype esmy325

natura Verpackungs GmbH Industriestr. 55 - 57 48432 Rheine Tel. +49 5975 303-57 Fax +49 5975 303-42

8. Ancillary equipment

Suppliers Guide

9. Services NOVAMONT S.p.A. Via Fauser , 8 28100 Novara - ITALIA Fax +39.0321.699.601 Tel. +39.0321.699.611

Bioplastics Consulting Tel. +49 2161 664864

or Stay permanently listed in the Suppliers Guide with your company logo and contact information.

Pland Paper® WEI MON INDUSTRY CO., LTD. 2F, No.57, Singjhong Rd., Neihu District, Taipei City 114, Taiwan, R.O.C. Tel. + 886 - 2 - 27953131 Fax + 886 - 2 - 27919966

Simply contact: Tel.: +49-2359-2996-0

Marketing - Exhibition - Event Tel. +49 2359-2996-0

For only 6,– EUR per mm, per issue you can be present among top suppliers in the field of bioplastics.

10. Institutions 10.1 Associations

Wiedmer AG - PLASTIC SOLUTIONS 8752 Näfels - Am Linthli 2 SWITZERLAND Tel. +41 55 618 44 99 Fax +41 55 618 44 98 6. Machinery & Molds

FAS Converting Machinery AB O Zinkgatan 1/ Box 1503 27100 Ystad, Sweden Tel.: +46 411 69260

BPI - The Biodegradable Products Institute 331 West 57th Street Suite 415 New York, NY 10019, USA Tel. +1-888-274-5646

European Bioplastics e.V. Marienstr. 19/20 10117 Berlin, Germany Tel. +49 30 284 82 350 Fax +49 30 284 84 359 10.2 Universities

Molds, Change Parts and Turnkey Solutions for the PET/Bioplastic Container Industry 284 Pinebush Road Cambridge Ontario Canada N1T 1Z6 Tel. +1 519 624 9720 Fax +1 519 624 9721

MANN+HUMMEL ProTec GmbH Stubenwald-Allee 9 64625 Bensheim, Deutschland Tel. +49 6251 77061 0 Fax +49 6251 77061 510 7. Plant engineering

Michigan State University Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science Professor Ramani Narayan East Lansing MI 48824, USA Tel. +1 517 719 7163

University of Applied Sciences Faculty II, Department of Bioprocess Engineering Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hans-Josef Endres Heisterbergallee 12 30453 Hannover, Germany Tel. +49 (0)511-9296-2212 Fax +49 (0)511-9296-2210

Uhde Inventa-Fischer GmbH Holzhauser Str. 157 - 159 13509 Berlin Germany Tel. +49 (0)30 43567 5 Fax +49 (0)30 43567 699

bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/09] Vol. 4


Companies in this issue Company A&O Filmpac Aldi Alesco Amcor Flexible Packaging Arkhe Will Avantium BASF Biograde BioPak Biopolymer Network Biotec Braskem Depron DuPont European Bioplastics European Plastics News Europlatiques FAS Converting FH Hannover Fiat FKuR Forapack Ford Formax Quimiplan Fraunhofer UMSICHT Frost & Sullivan Fuji Gehr Plastics Glycan Biotechnology GP Plastics Corp. Green Power Hallink Honda Huhtamaki Ilip Innovia JBPA Lexus Lucite International Maag


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A real sign of sustainable development.

There is such a thing as genuinely sustainable development. Since 1989, Novamont researchers have been working on an ambitious project that combines the chemical industry, agriculture and the environment: "Living Chemistry for Quality of Life". Its objective has been to create products with a low environmental impact. The result of Novamont's innovative research is the new bioplastic Mater-Bi 速. Mater-Bi 速 is a family of materials, completely biodegradable and compostable which contain renewable raw materials such as starch and vegetable oil derivates. Mater-Bi 速 performs like traditional plastics but it saves energy, contributes to reducing the greenhouse effect and at the end of its life cycle, it closes the loop by changing into fertile humus. Everyone's dream has become a reality.

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bioplastics MAGAZINE is the only independent trade magazine worldwide dedicated to bioplastics