The manufacturing upgrades increase NatureWorks’s responsiveness to rapidly evolving market dynamics and high demand for Ingeo™️ (PLA) biomaterials.

MINNETONKA, Minn., September 22, 2020 – NatureWorks, the world’s leading manufacturer of low-carbon PLA biomaterials, today announced a slate of manufacturing technology projects, including lactide monomer purification efficiency, that will increase the availability of the full Ingeo™️ (PLA) biomaterials portfolio by 10 percent. Installation is currently underway at NatureWorks’s facility in Blair, Nebraska, the world’s first and largest commercial-scale PLA manufacturing plant. The projects will be completed by the end of 2021.

The expanded availability will support growth in markets that demand sustainable, low-carbon materials and require the high-performance attributes that Ingeo is uniquely suited to deliver. These markets include 3D printing and nonwoven hygiene masks as well as compostable coffee capsules, teabags, and coated-paper food serviceware.

“The market continues to rapidly evolve due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the undiminished demand for sustainable, bio-based alternatives to petrochemical-based plastics,” said Rich Altice, President & CEO of NatureWorks. “For NatureWorks to satisfy this unprecedented demand, this purification technology is one of many additional capital improvements we are actively working on at our facility in Blair. At the same time, we continue to pursue a potential future second manufacturing site outside the U.S. to serve our growing international markets.”

Ingeo polylactic acid is made in a multi-step process that begins with using annually renewable plants to turn greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into long-chain sugar molecules. Dextrose derived from the plant sugar molecules, is fermented into lactic acid that then undergoes a proprietary two-step process to transform it into lactide, the monomer for Ingeo polylactic acid polymer.

Commitment to Sustainable Agriculture

The additional annually renewable feedstock sourced to supply the new manufacturing projects will become certified by the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification System (ISCC) to the ISCC PLUS standard of best practices in agricultural production by 2025.

As part of NatureWorks’s participation in the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment and commitment to sustainable agriculture, they announced a new initiative in 2019 to ensure that by 2020 100 percent of the agricultural feedstock used for Ingeo made at their Blair, Nebraska production site will be certified as environmentally and socially sustainable by the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification System (ISCC). By 2025, NatureWorks also committed that 100 percent of new feedstocks for additional manufacturing capacity will be certified as sustainably and responsibly managed via an independent third-party administered program.

NatureWorks was the first biopolymer manufacturer to become certified to the new ISCC PLUS standard in 2012, and currently has more than 60 percent of its agricultural feedstock certified.

For more information about NatureWorks and Ingeo, visit www.natureworksllc.com. Follow NatureWorks on Twitter (@natureworks) for the latest updates.

About NatureWorks

NatureWorks is an advanced materials company offering a broad portfolio of renewably sourced polymers and chemicals. With performance and economics that compete with oil-based materials, naturally advanced Ingeo™ biomaterials are valued for their unique functional properties and used in products from coffee capsules and appliances to tea bags and 3D printing filament. NatureWorks is jointly owned by Thailand’s largest ASEAN leading integrated petrochemical and refining company, PTT Global Chemical, and Cargill, which provides food, agriculture, financial and industrial products and services to the world. For more information visit natureworksllc.com or follow NatureWorks on Twitter at @natureworks.

On 10th September, Packaging Europe, the leading intelligence resource for European packaging professionals, presented the webinar: What’s the role of bioplastics in a sustainable packaging future?

Tim Sykes, Brand Director at Packaging Europe, moderated a panel of three experts comprising Hasso Von Pogrell, Managing Director at EUBP, Gary Tee, UK Sales Director at TIPA, and Andy Sweetman, Sales & Marketing Manager at Futamura.

The panelists discussed the environmental implications of bioplastics, along with opportunities and roadblocks around further adoptions of bioplastic packaging applications, and answered some questions from the audience.

PHOTO CREDIT: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Pawarun

 

Report predicts bioplastics growth

With multiple environmental benefits, bioplastics could be vital in helping solve the world’s plastic problem.

About eight million pieces of plastic make their way into the world’s oceans each day, representing a global-scale pollution problem that is not going anywhere without serious intervention.

Bioplastics — plastics produced from biomass feedstocks — could help solve the world’s plastics problem but are struggling to wrestle market share away from conventional plastics. Bioplastics such as polylactic acid, polyhydroxyalkanoates and polybutyl succinate are biodegradable and can have similar, if not identical, functionalities to their fossil-based counterparts. So why aren’t they being widely adopted? An IDTechEx report explores the factors helping and hindering the adoption of bioplastics.

Cost of production

The IDTechEx report — ‘Bioplastics 2020–2025’ — identifies several barriers to more widespread adoption of bioplastics, the major issue being that they are still more expensive to produce than petrochemically derived plastics. Despite a majority of consumers saying they want brands that are sustainable, few are actually willing to pay extra for it, with willingness to pay falling sharply for products with a Green Premium over 5%.

Oil prices fell in 2014 and have stayed low since then, making it even harder for bioplastics to compete on price. As a finite resource, oil prices cannot remain this low forever, but until prices rise bioplastics producers will have to work hard to cut production costs.

The challenge of upscaling

Despite demonstrating proof of concepts in an academic setting, the transition to industrial-scale production is far from straightforward and many companies are reported to have gone bankrupt trying to make the jump. A conservative approach to production methods does not work well with the complexity of high-volume fermentation. Furthermore, there is a lack of capital investment from venture capitalists and governments to help academic innovators and early-stage startups expand production.

Policy change as a facilitator

Despite the barriers to the widespread adoption of bioplastics, governments are increasingly introducing policy changes to help overcome the challenges detailed above. In 2018 the EU updated its Bioeconomy Strategy, making funding available for circular economy projects, and in 2019 the San Francisco Bay Area introduced a range of restrictions on single-use plastics.

Bioplastics companies are also increasingly employing innovative technical approaches to reduce costs, including the use of synthetic biology.

The Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) is the peak industry body for manufacturers, converters and distributors of bioplastic products and materials throughout Australia and New Zealand. Dedicated to promoting plastics that are biodegradable, compostable and based on renewable resources, the ABA administers a voluntary verification scheme for biodegradable plastics.

“The growth of the market for sustainable resins derived from renewable resources is driven by recognition that fossil fuel resources are finite and will one day run out,” the ABA said.

“Change is required and this is recognised by business and governments around the world who are encouraging recycling, composting of organic waste, and use of sustainable and renewable materials.”

First posted on Sustainability Matters on 02/04/20 Read more here

 

 

If you take one of Ellen Burns’ energy bars, eat it and throw the wrapper in the compost bin, 13 weeks later you will find nothing but dirt.

As Australia stares down a recycling crisis that threatens the viability of a multi-billion dollar industry and potentially thousands of jobs, some small businesses like Ms Burns’ have scrambled to find new types of packaging that have no need for a yellow kerbside bin.

The Ballarat-based entrepreneur said her business is one of only three in Australia that uses home-compostable packaging, which is plant-based and imported from the United Kingdom. “When I started running my own business it kind of seemed contradictory because I was creating all this plastic waste and putting that out into the world,” Ms Burns said.

“It’s a bit more noticeable when you have literally boxes of plastic pouches rather than as a consumer you might only be using one a day or a couple of plastic packages a day.”

While there has been considerable improvement to public awareness of Australia’s waste woes, home-compostable packaging is only one step in a much longer journey towards fixing the recycling industry’s systematic flaws.

How does home-compostable packaging work?

The bioplastic packaging that Ellen Burns uses is accredited by the Australasian Bioplastics Association [ABA] and made from cellulose derived from plants like eucalyptus and sugarcane. Member of the ABA’s Technical Committee, Warwick Hall, said testing of compostable packaging is undertaken in conjunction with German firm DIN CERTCO to ensure there are no toxic residues.

“The product breaks down into carbon dioxide, water and carbon biomass just the same as a tomato or an orange,” he said.

But Mr Hall said the wrapping may not biodegrade properly alongside other forms of general waste and that the ideal conditions of a compost bin are needed. “It needs to be composted because landfill conditions vary so much that a material may or may not biodegrade under those conditions.

“Others are dry landfills where no oxygen can get in there and nothing biodegrades or it takes an awfully long time.”

“We’ve all read reports about landfill being dug up and people finding vegetable matter and old newspapers,” he said.

Is home-compostable packaging economically viable?

Over the past three years Ellen Burns has spent her entire life savings on setting up her business and establishing the new compostable packaging. “Between plastic and this, it’s probably maybe 10 times more expensive,” she said. “I understand why the bigger businesses don’t do it, because for them to switch all their products over it would actually be a huge amount of money.” Ms Burns primarily stocks cafes and health food stores and said there is a greater appetite for environmentally friendly products among her target market.


“This was my first big order of custom packaging, so for me it always going to be a huge step up anyway,” she said.

“So I thought it was worth investing in what my beliefs are and what my brand stands for, rather than try to minimise the cost.”

But Ms Burns said due to the relatively small size of her business and the lower cost of purchasing packaging in bulk orders, the price increase passed on to consumers is minimal. “In terms of packaging per wrapper, you’re talking probably 10 to 15 cents difference per bar.”

 

PHOTO: Photos of Ellen Burns’ packaging taken five weeks after they were placed in a compost bin. (Supplied: Ellen Burns)

Soft plastic problems present an opportunity for home compost

Unless placed in dedicated recycling bins found at most supermarkets, traditional plastic food packaging presents a particular problem, with only a handful of regional councils able to process them from kerbside recycling bins.

Bioplastics are derived from renewable substances, but can include a broad range of products such as biodegradable starch blends, polyesters or regenerable cellulose — each with varying environmental impacts.The 2016-17 Australian Plastics Recycling Survey stated that the amount of biodegradable plastic being composted is unknown but estimated that less than 100 tonnes was undertaken nationally. That is compared to 3,513,100 tonnes of plastic consumed in the same year, of which 11.8 per cent was recycled.

A June 2018 report released by the Senate Environment and Communications Reference Committee described Australia’s recycling system as being in ‘grave danger’ due to China’s ban on the import of some recyclables, along with underinvestment in the domestic industry. The report points to the “enormity of problems created by plastics” with many municipal recycling systems unable to sort food wrappers from other harder plastics including bottles and containers.

What does the future hold for bioplastics?

In April the Federal and State Governments agreed that all Australian packaging should be recyclable, combustible or compostable by 2025 — a decision Warwick Hall said provides momentum to the burgeoning bioplastics industry.

 

“Our conventional thinking for recycling is, we take it away and we melt or we crush it up and generally just physically recycle it into another form,” he said.

“In this case it’s the same concept, but just organic rather than conventional recycling … it’s not intended to replace conventional recycling, it’s another means.”

While there are industrial composting options available already, Mr Hall said the ultimate success of compostable packaging will depend on the willingness of consumers to change their waste and recycling habits.

“Petrochemical plastics are pumped out by the hundreds of thousands of tonnes and that gives you efficiencies whereas bioplastics are made in smaller quantities and therefore you don’t get those same efficiencies,” he said.

“We wouldn’t think that all packaging will become compostable and certainly not the majority of packaging will become compostable but it is an option available.”

PHOTO: Composting has become more frequently used among Australian households but whether this will extend to food packaging remains to be seen. (Flickr: Nic McFee)

First posted on ABC News on 27/11/18 Read more here

 

 

Biodegradation Of Synthetic Polymers In Soils: Tracking carbon into CO2 and microbial biomass

Plastic materials are widely used in agricultural applications to achieve food security for the growing world population.  Thin mulch films made of polyethylene are used in agriculture in numerous countries, where they cause extensive soil contamination. The use of biodegradable instead of nonbiodegradable polymers in single-use agricultural applications, including plastic mulching, promises to reduce plastic accumulation in the environment.

A study by researchers at ETH Zurich and Eawag have now identified an alternative: films made of the polymer PBAT biodegrade in soils. Zumstein et al Biodegradation_of_synthetic_polymers_in_soils_Trac

Our world is drowning in a flood of plastic. Eight million tons of plastic end up in the oceans every year. Agricultural soils are also threatened by plastic pollution. Farmers around the world apply enormous amounts of polyethylene (PE) mulch films onto soils to combat weeds, increase soil temperature and keep the soil moist, thereby increasing overall crop yields.

After harvest, it often is impossible for farmers to re-collect the entire films, particularly when films are only a few micrometers thin. Film debris then makes its way into the soil and accumulates in the soil over time, because PE does not biodegrade. Film residues in soils decrease soil fertility, interfere with water transport and diminish crop growth.

Soil microbes mineralise films composed of alternative polymer

Researchers at ETH Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) have now shown in an interdisciplinary study that there is reason to be hopeful. In their recent study, they demonstrate that soil microbes degrade films composed of the alternative polymer poly(butylene adipate-co-terephthalate) (PBAT). Their work has just been published in the journal Science Advances.

In the research project coordinated by Michael Sander, Kristopher McNeill and Hans-Peter Kohler, former ETH doctoral student Michael Zumstein succeeded in demonstrating that soil microorganisms metabolically utilised the carbon in the PBAT polymer both for energy production and also to build up microbial biomass.

Video: ETH Zurich

“This research directly demonstrates, for the first time, that soil microorganisms mineralise PBAT films in soils and transfer carbon from the polymer into their biomass,” says Michael Sander, Senior Scientist in the Environmental Chemistry Group in the Department of Environmental Systems Science at ETH Zurich.

Like PE, PBAT is a petroleum-based polymer that is used to make various products, including mulch films. Because PBAT was already classified as biodegradable in compost, the ETH and Eawag researchers aimed at assessing whether PBAT also biodegrades in agricultural soils. By comparison, PE does not biodegrade in compost or in soil.

Labelling of polymer with carbon-13

In their experiments, the researchers used PBAT material that was custom-synthesised from monomers to contain a defined amount of the stable carbon-13 isotope. This isotope label enabled the scientists to track the polymer-derived carbon along different biodegradation pathways in soil.

Upon biodegrading PBAT, the soil microorganisms liberated carbon-13 from the polymer.

Using isotope-sensitive analytical equipment, the researchers found that the carbon-13 from PBAT was not only converted into carbon dioxide (CO2) as a result of microbial respiration but also incorporated into the biomass of microorganisms colonizing the polymer surface.

True biodegradation

“The beauty of our study is that we used stable isotopes to precisely track PBAT-derived carbon along different biodegradation pathways of the polymer in the soil,” says Michael Zumstein.

The researchers are the first to successfully demonstrate – with high scientific rigor – that a plastic material is effectively biodegraded in soils.

Because not all materials that were labelled “biodegradable” in the past really fulfilled the necessary criteria. “By definition biodegradation demands that microbes metabolically use all carbon in the polymer chains for energy production and biomass formation – as we now demonstrated for PBAT,” says Hans-Peter Kohler, environmental microbiologist at Eawag.

The definition highlights that biodegradable plastics fundamentally differ from those that merely disintegrate into tiny plastic particles, for instance after exposure of the plastic to sunlight, but that do not mineralise. “Many plastic materials simply crumble into tiny fragments that persist in the environment as microplastics – even if this plastic is invisible to the naked eye,” Kohler says.

 

To investigate biodegradation of PBAT mulch films in soil, an ETH doctoral student fill incubation bottles with soils containing pieces of the mulch films.

Fungal hyphae colonize the PBAT film surfaces and use the PBAT carbon in their metabolism.

The soils containing the pieces of mulch films are incubated in a temperature-controlled chamber. Microbes that biodegrade the films emit CO2, which is continuously analysed.

Bacteria join the fungi during biodegradation. (Electron microscopy images: ETH Zurich / Environmental Chemistry Group)
In their experiment, the researchers placed 60 grams of soil into glass bottles each with a volume of 0.1 litre and subsequently inserted the PBAT films on a solid support into the soil.

After six weeks of incubation, the scientists assessed the extent to which soil microorganisms had colonised the PBAT surfaces. They further quantified the amount of CO2 that was formed in the incubation bottles and how much of the carbon-13 isotope the CO2 contained. Finally, to directly demonstrate the incorporation of carbon from the polymer in the biomass of microorganisms on the polymer surfaces, they collaborated with researchers from the University of Vienna.

At this stage, the researchers cannot yet say with certainty over which timeframe PBAT degrades in soils in the natural environment given that they conducted their experiments in the lab, not in the field. Longer-term studies in different soils and under various conditions in the field are now needed to assess the biodegradation of PBAT films under real environmental conditions.

Too early for an all-clear

“Unfortunately, there is no reason to cheer as of yet: we’re still far from resolving the global environmental problem of plastic pollution,” says Sander, “but we’ve taken a very important first step in the direction of plastic biodegradability in soil.”

At the same time, he cautions against unrealistic expectations for biodegrading plastics in the environment: “As we have demonstrated, there is hope for our soils in the form of biodegradable polymers. The results from soils should, however, not be directly transferred to other natural environments. For instance, biodegradation of polymers in seawater might be considerably slower, because the conditions there are different and so are the microbial communities.”

 

Initially Published by Peter Rüegg on the 25/07/18 in the ETH Zürich

www.ethz.ch/en/news-and-events/eth-news/news/2018/07/soil-bugs-munch-on-plastic-films.html

Currently, bioplastics represent about one percent of the about 320 million tonnes of plastic produced annually. But
as demand is rising and with more sophisticated biopolymers, applications, and products emerging, the market is
continuously growing.

Dynamic market growth

According to the latest market data compiled by European Bioplastics in cooperation with the research institute nova-Institute,
global bioplastics production capacity is set to increase from around 2.05 million tonnes in 2017 to approximately
2.44 million tonnes in 2022. Report_Bioplastics_Market_Data_2017

AORA Demonstration Day Proves ABA Certified Compostable Materials Meet Australian Composting Requirements.

The Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) and its Members participated at the 2018 Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA) Annual Conference Demonstration Day Held in Brisbane by putting certified compostable bags and food service ware to the test.

Participating ABA members supplied their certified compostable bags and food service ware with the AORA team to establish time required for items to compost under AORA established conditions. ABA member certified compostable bags and food service ware were buried in an open windrow. Windrow composting is the production of compost by piling organic matter in long rows (windrows).

The AORA team built a windrow of composting FOGO (Food Organics Green Organics) consisting mostly of green waste removed from normal processes at around two weeks from establishment and at around seven weeks prior to the demonstration. Once built, the windrow was not turned again.

The certified compostable items supplied by ABA members were buried in the windrow and staked out at 6/4/2/1 weeks to test decomposition time. At 6/4/2/1 weeks and around 10 days prior to the demonstration the AORA team placed fresh food waste (lettuce and other green leaves) in ABA member certified compostable plastic bags and placed them and some ABA member certified compostable plates, Take-out containers, Clear cups, Paper Coffee Cups and cup lids into holes dug to a depth of around 400-600mm in the windrows. These were re-buried and marked with stakes. The windrow was not otherwise touched. The windrows were temperature tested weekly at 62-65C.

                              

On the AORA Demonstration Day in front of AORA Conference attendees, the AORA team dug up the areas marked with the stakes to check the certified compostable materials state of decomposition. At none of the marked stakes were AORA able to find any evidence of the buried material.

The results, of the decomposition trial of ABA member supplied certified compostable material, were conclusive that all the materials buried during the trial period were composted. The rate of decomposition particularly from items buried at the 1/2/4 week stakes demonstrated the speed of decomposition of certified compostable items. Further investigation, by the AORA team, using a Komptech turner and trommels to ensure nothing was missed, again confirmed that all ABA member supplied certified compostable items had composted.

On completion of the test, ABA Executive Warwick Hall and ABA Committee Member Rivka Garson spoke to AORA members on the stringent process that compostable products need to go through to achieve certification and have the ability to carry the seedling or home compostability logo. Hall and Garson, also spoke on the importance of ensuring that only certified compostable bags and products are used for in composting processes and how to easily identify these items, through the seedling logo and home compostability logo as well as the identifying number supplied to each ABA members products. Without the logos and identifying numbers, material is not considered certified compostable.

Martin Tower, Executive Director AORA stated, “I have to say I was amazed (and a bit embarrassed) that we could find no evidence of anything we buried. I was paying particular attention when the Komptech turner went through the pile to see if we had missed anything but again I saw nothing then or subsequently before the trommels got to work on the windrow. This conclusively proves that Australasian Bioplastics Members supplied certified compostable bags and food service ware decompose under AORA specified conditions.”

About the AORA Annual Conference

The AORA Annual Conference is well established as the principal conference in Australia for the recycled organics industry. Each conference is a forum for education, discussion and networking related to Organics Recycling. It is also an opportunity to celebrate outstanding achievements in the industry. www.aoraconference.com.au

 

The Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) welcomes and applauds the announcement from Federal Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg that by 2025, 100 per cent of Australian packaging to be recyclable, compostable or reusable.

Minister Frydenberg has been pushing the plan to ensure packaging is recyclable, reusable or compostable, which would eliminate much of household rubbish. Commonwealth, state and territory environment ministers have agreed to cut Australia’s supply of waste, increase our recycling capability and increase the demand for recyclable products in response to China’s new restrictions on recyclable waste.

Josh Frydenberg stated, “The solution is to work cooperatively with the states to create new opportunities for Australia to build its domestic capacity to recycle more material; to get governments to procure more recyclable material; to turn more waste into energy; and to look at ensuring that all packaging is reusable or recyclable by 2025.”

Ministers have also brought forward the review of Australia’s National Waste Policy to be completed within a year. This will ensure that governments are taking the most appropriate and timely actions to support a sustainable recycling industry. Australia has an opportunity to develop its capabilities and capacity in recycling through effective cooperation and collaboration among the three levels of government.

As the leading industry body for Australian and New Zealand manufacturers, converters and distributors of bioplastic products and materials, the Australasian Bioplastics Association administrators a voluntary verification scheme for compostable bioplastics certification.

Robin Tuckerman, Australasian Bioplastics Association representative states, “The Australasian Bioplastics Association welcomes the announcement by Minister Frydenberg and the recognition that certified compostable bioplastics have a fundamental game changing role in reducing waste going to landfill. Many of our members are leaders in bioplastics, are dedicated to a circular economy and have been developing certified compostable alternatives to conventional plastics for decades.”

Australasian Bioplastics Association members are already a major contributor to local councils FOGO (Food Organics Garden Organics) waste diversion programs. Recognising that diverting FOGO from landfill has environmental and commercial benefits, many Australian and New Zealand councils have implemented FOGO diversion programs where FOGO is collected in certified compostable bags and sent to commercial composting facility.

Certified compostable bioplastics are made from bio-based material and compost in either industrial compost facilities if certified to Australian Standards 4736-2006 for Industrial Composting or if certified to Australian Standards 5810-2006 for Home Composting. Certification provides compost facilities confidence that compostable bags do not cause contamination. The Australasian Bioplastics Association’s programs are supported by AORA (Australian Organics Recycling Association).

For almost every conventional plastic material and application, there is a bioplastic alternative available on the market that has the same properties and offers additional advantages. With Australia’s largest supermarkets taking robust action to phase out single-use plastic bags and states heading to bans on plastic bags used by retail outlets including reducing plastic wrapping on fruit and vegies, certified compostable bags offer a real alternative. Certified compostable labelling assists consumers, recyclers, composters and councils to clearly identify these products and ensure correct waste separation, collection and recovery.

Rivka Garson, Australasian Bioplastics Association committee member states, “Made from bio- based resins, that compost in industrial facilities within 12 weeks and therefore having a real impact on plastic waste reduction; certified compostable film can be used for an endless list of items including external packaging, produce bags, dog poo bags, agricultural films and many more items. Going forward, the Australasian Bioplastics Association is looking forward to having a very positive effect on Australian waste reduction.”

The 2025, 100 per cent target will be delivered by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, working with its 950 member companies and partners, including the Australasian Bioplastics Association.

A Plastics Market Watch report released 10 May, entitled Watching: Bioplastics – the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) reports bioplastics are in a growth cycle stage and will outpace the economy as a whole. New investments and entrants in the sector and new products and manufacturing technologies are projected to make bioplastics more competitive and dynamic.

The report finds growing interest in bioplastics, but also a continued need for education. According to a survey PLASTICS conducted of U.S. consumers in January 2018, more consumers are “familiar” or “somewhat familiar” with bioplastics compared to a survey conducted just two years ago; 32 percent of consumers are familiar with bioplastics in 2018 compared to only 27 percent in 2016. The PLASTICS survey also indicated 64 percent of consumers would prefer to buy a product made with bioplastics – and expect to see bioplastics in disposable plastic tableware, plastic bags, food and cosmetic packaging, and toys.

As bioplastics product applications continue to expand, the growth dynamics of the industry will continue to shift. Looking at industry studies on market segmentation, packaging is the largest segment of the market at 37 percent followed by bottles at 32 percent. Growth opportunities in bioplastics manufacturing are expected to continue from the demand and supply side. While in the past growth in bioplastics was primarily driven by higher petrol-based polymers, changes in consumer behavior will be a significant factor for higher demand of bioplastics.

“Changes in U.S. tax policy, particularly the full expensing of capital expenditure, should support research and development in bioplastics. The overall low cost of energy in the U.S. complements nicely with research and development activities and manufacturing, which generates a stable supply of innovative bioplastic products,” said Perc Pineda, PhD, chief economist at PLASTICS.

The research and partnerships with bioplastics is exemplified by the efforts to develop a 100 percent biobased PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottle. Most PET bottles currently have approximately 30 percent biobased material, but a number of companies and collaborations are working to develop and launch, at commercial scale, a PET plastic bottle made from 100 percent biobased material.

Despite the industry’s embrace of bioplastics and their expanding presence in a wide range of products, PLASTICS’ Pineda noted, “A high percentage of surveyed respondents believe they have not seen or used a product made from bioplastic — either biobased or biodegradable. Continuing to educate consumers on bioplastics would go a long way.”

The report is available for download to members and non-members. First published in bioplastics Magazine

http://www.plasticsindustry.org. 

Europe to ramp up funding for bio-based plastics

The European Commission will increase the funding for research and development of innovative bio-based plastics and to further improve plastic recycling. During the press conference on the European Strategy on Plastics earlier this month, the Commission’s Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said: “we are also ready to finance or increase financing for new innovations in recyclability and new oil-free raw materials. Horizon 2020 has already allocated 250 million Euros for this kind of innovative work, and we have decided to increase the ceiling with additional 100 million by 2020.”

This is an important signal for the bioplastics industry in Europe, which is needed to drive continued change in the plastics industry towards an innovative, sustainable, and resource-efficient economy.

In the Communication of the Plastics Strategy, the Commission highlights that “alternative types of feedstock (e.g. bio-based plastics or plastics produced from carbon dioxide or methane), offering the same functionalities of traditional plastics with potentially lower environmental impacts at the moment represent a very small share of the market. Increasing the uptake of alternatives that according to solid evidence are more sustainable can also help decrease our dependency on fossil fuels.”

The Commission’s commitment to supporting the development and scaling up of alternative bio-based feedstocks for plastics is crucial for a still young industry that offers substantial opportunities for innovation, jobs, and at the same time supporting the EU’s transition to a circular economy.

Read more here