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weight but highly durable, is driving higher usage by auto designers and planners. There is evidence that a growing segment of auto buyers are willing to pay more for a greener car. The challenge will be bioplastics cost vs. performance plus bioplastic capacity. If bio-resins take off and are adopted by more car companies can the supply chain meet the demand? In the Auto segment, there seems to be potential for bio-resins in acoustic insulation, carpets and headliners. Rating: two out of five stars.

Agricultural/Landscaping The final area of potential to be looked at is the Agricultural/Landscaping segment. In 2012, nonwoven fabric sales into this segment in North America reached an estimated $90 million, consuming approximately 31,000 tonnes. Landscape/ Agricultural fabrics are used to shade young plantings, stop erosion, and prevent weed growth. Ideally, farmers would like to simply till these into the soil when the growing season is over. So here it is not the biobased source of a material that is of interest, but the biodegradability, ideally in combination with a renewable source. With the growing interest in organic and sustainable agriculture, this trend is increasing. But cost is an over-riding driver in this segment and for this reason the opportunity for biobased AND biodegradable nonwovens will be very limited. Thus this segment gets only one out of five stars. So will bio-resin use in the production of nonwoven fabrics grow and prosper? Yes, it will. It is not a pipe dream but a market opportunity. The possibilities are good and some application of biopolymers is already occurring. Because many segments are cost sensitive, bio-resin pricing will remain an issue; particularly when replacing an oil-based material. So, keep in mind the concept of biopolymer use in totally new product areas, such as in medical tissue scaffolding. And lastly, be careful what you wish for. There are only 2.5 million tonnes of bio-resin capacity today but about 230 million tonnes of petroleum polymer consumption with about 10 million flowing into nonwovens. So the science may be there to replace a substantial percentage of petroleum based polymers, but the capacity is not (yet).

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bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/13] Vol. 8

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bioplastics MAGAZINE 05/2013  

bioplastics MAGAZINE is the only independent trade magazine worldwide dedicated to bioplastics (i.e. plastics made from renewable resources...

bioplastics MAGAZINE 05/2013  

bioplastics MAGAZINE is the only independent trade magazine worldwide dedicated to bioplastics (i.e. plastics made from renewable resources...

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