Focus on Bioplastics

Excerpt: Here are the latest news and Developments on Bioplastics

Danimer Scientific and PepsiCo win annual innovation in bioplastics award

The US based Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) Bioplastics Division have announced Danimer Scientific and PepsiCo as the joint winners of the 2018 Innovation in Bioplastics Award. The two companies developed the next generation of bio-based and compostable flexible packaging using Danimer 24365B & Danimer 01112 Resins. This new industrial compostable snack bag has the right balance of sustainability, performance and cost.

The annual Innovation in Bioplastics Award is an honor that goes to companies applying bioplastics to innovative, purposeful product design. “We are excited to honor Danimer and PepsiCo for their unique and creative application of bioplastics innovation,” said PLASTICS' President & CEO, William R. Carteaux. “These innovations are a major contribution in progressing bioplastics forward as a competitive option in more applications across various industries. What an amazing way to kick off Bioplastics Week.”

The industrial compostable snack bag is comparable in feel, noise and performance to PepsiCo's current bags and certified to be industrially compostable by TUV Austria. The new Danimer resins that are blends of biopolymers and mineral filler give the bag its white exterior and can be processed in blown film lines for improved economics. The new bio-based structures are currently being piloted in a limited test in the US and Chile, with plans for a test in India later this year.

Bag Structure with 3 layers of PHA

“We would like to thank the Plastics Industry Association for recognizing the work PepsiCo and our team are doing to create sustainable food packaging,” said Scott Tuten, chief marketing officer at Danimer Scientific. “As the industry becomes more environmentally conscious, we look forward to continuing our partnership with PepsiCo to develop quality, compostable and biodegradable plastic products for a wide variety of applications.”

Danimer and PepsiCo are collaborating on a third-generation chip bag that is based on Danimer's PHA technology and will be fully biodegradable in home-composting environments.

“PepsiCo and Danimer have a shared vision for a future of food packaging that is more sustainable without compromising food safety or quality,” said Garry Kohl, Senior Director R&D Global Packaging Innovation for Snacks & Foods at PepsiCo. “We are proud to be recognized for this work, which supports PepsiCo's stated goal to make 100-percent of our packaging recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025.”

The Innovation in Bioplastics Award is announced annually during PLASTICS' Bioplastics Division's Bioplastics Week. Bioplastics Week is a social media driven initiative created to increase bioplastics' visibility and educate people about the many benefits they provide.

Sustainable & Circular Bioeconomy, the European way-Conference

The Conference “Bioeconomy - Sustainable & Circular Bioeconomy, The European Way”, promoted by the European Commission within the High Level Event on Bioeconomy, was held in Brussels on 22 October, with the aim of discussing how to improve the transition to a sustainable development, respecting the environment and the social dimension, in an ever-changing European political context.

Catia Bastioli, Novamont CEO, took the floor during the session "Ensuring environmental, social and economic balance of the bioeconomy", where through the Novamont model, based on the bioeconomy conceived as territorial regeneration, illustrated how it is possible to create value in local areas, both on economic and social terms, contributing to soil protection and responding to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change call for climate change mitigation.

The session was opened by Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation in the Juncker Commission and Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, which introduced the works explaining how Matrìca, the Porto Torres biorefinery of Novamont, is an excellent example of sustainable reindustrialisation and of upstream integration with the agricultural value chain.

At the end of the conference, Commissioners Carlos Moedas, and Phil Hogan met with Catia Bastioli and Ilkka Hämälä - Metsa Group CEO - both representing the Biobased Industry Consortium, to discuss about what the EU can do together with the industry to make Europe the global leader of sustainable bioeconomy.

The conference was an opportunity to present the review of the European Bioeconomy Strategy, updated by the European Commission on October 11, 2018, six years after its first launch. The revision aims to set new challenging objectives, starting from an action plan focused on three pillars: the strengthening and expansion of bio-based sectors, the release of investments and markets, the development of a bioeconomy declined in the territories throughout Europe and the strengthening of the resilience of terrestrial and marine ecosystems through their constant monitoring.

The paper presented estimates that the implementation of the strategy could create up to 1 million jobs in the bio-based industry sector by 2030, contributing to climate change mitigation and reducing CO2 emissions to up to 2.5 billion tonnes per year.

Grand opening for Mater-Biopolymer: the Novamont Group's site for the production of ORIGO-BI

The grand opening of MATER-BIOPOLYMER, the Novamont Group's site dedicated to the production of ORIGO-BI was held in Patrica (FR) on 19th October. Origo-Bi is a family of biodegradable polyesters with an increasing content of renewable raw materials, which enter the production process of the MATER-BI bioplastic family.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was preceded by the conference "The Rigeneration Comes on", which is part of the review of events related to the fifth anniversary of the Club of Rome. The event was moderated by journalist Elena Comelli with speeches of Gian Paolo Manzella, Councilor for Economic Development, Commerce and Crafts , Start-Up of the Lazio Region, Catia Bastioli, CEO of Novamont, Mauro Magatti, Professor of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Massimiliano Tellini, Global Head - Circular Economy Intesa San Paolo Innovation Center, Christophe Debien, Director General of the Institut National de l'Economie Circulaire, Gianni Pietro Girotto, President 10th Industry Commission Senate of the Republic, Davide Crippa, Undersecretary of State Ministry of Economic Development and Gunter Pauli economist, entrepreneur, Belgian writer and father of the “Blue Economy”.

At the end of the conference, all the guests, including representatives of the institutions, local administrations, universities and research and industrial partners of the Group, were guided into the plant to discover its production process..

MATER-BIOPOLYMER, in line with the NOVAMONT strategy, based on the use of the world's first technologies for the revitalization of no longer industrial sites, is a virtuous example of industrial development in a logic of territorial regeneration and enhancement of infrastructure and skills existing.

It comes from the conversion of a plant dedicated to the production of PET. Thanks to NOVAMONT's innovative technologies and know-how, the various sections of the plant have been regenerated to allow the use of renewable raw materials and the application of a more sustainable and low-emission process. MATER-BIOPOLYMER is a highly efficient plant, and is equipped with a complex system of utilities that allows to minimize costs and waste through the recovery and enhancement of waste. In 2016, the site started the construction of a waste water distillation section from the process that made it possible to recover the tetrahydrofuran (THF) that is generated during the polymerization reaction, which, once distilled, is destined for industry chemistry and pharmaceuticals.

Thyssenkrupp commissions first commercial bioplastics plant for COFCO in China

To reduce reliance on petroleum-based plastics, thyssenkrupp has developed a manufacturing process for the bioplastic polylactide (PLA). The world's first commercial plant based on the patented PLAneo technology recently started production in Changchun, China. It is operated by the Jilin COFCO Biomaterial Corporation, a subsidiary of COFCO, China's largest food and beverage group. The new plant produces all standard PLA types, among other things for the production of eco-friendly packaging, fibers, textiles and engineering plastics.

The COFCO bioplastics plant with the PLA (polylactide) technology from thyssenkrupp's polymer specialists Uhde Inventa-Fischer

Sami Pelkonen, CEO of the Electrolysis & Polymers Technologies business unit of thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions: “The bioplastics market will continue to grow in the coming years, not least due to the increasing environmental awareness of industry, governments and consumers. With our PLAneo technology we want to do our bit to make the plastics sector more sustainable and resource-friendly. With it we enable our customers to produce high-quality bioplastics with a wide range of properties – at a price that is competitive with conventional plastics.”

Polyactide (PLA) is a 100% bio-based and compostable plastic which thanks to its physical and mechanical properties can replace conventional oil-based polymers in many areas. The starting material for PLA production is lactic acid, which is recovered from renewable resources such as sugar, starch or cellulose.

PLAneo technology converts lactic acid into PLA in a particularly efficient and resource-friendly way. Another advantage is its transferability to large-scale plants with capacities of up to 100,000 tons per year. In developing the technology, thyssenkrupp's subsidiary Uhde Inventa-Fischer profited from decades of expertise gained from the construction of more than 400 polymerization plants and extensive experience in the scale-up of new technologies. For the new plant in Changchun thyssenkrupp provided the engineering, key plant components and supervision of construction and commissioning.

Frost & Sullivan gives award for best innovation in the cosmetics sector to Bio-on

Bio-on, listed on the AIM segment of Borsa Italiana and operating in the high quality bioplastic sector, has been awarded the "Best Practices" award by Frost & Sullivanfor New Product Innovation in the Bio-based Ingredients for the Cosmetics industry. In particular the analysts at Frost & Sullivan examined the extraordinary performances of the Minerv Bio Cosmetics bioplastic microspheres designed to replace the polluting oil-based microplastics that are now found in many cosmetic formulations. An innovation certified by Natrue and Cosmos that looks set to profoundly transform the beauty products sector.

The award, globally recognised as one of the most prestigious and reliable, confirms the unique nature of Bio-on's solutions made from 100% natural and biodegradable bioplastic. Indeed, Frost & Sullivan finds that "Bio-on is properly positioned to serve as a leader in the bio-polymeric ingredient revolution for the cosmetics industry".

Outlining its reasons for assigning the award, Frost & Sullivan's analysts write that "Bio-on SpA of Italy has developed an innovative range of patented biopolymers called PHAs (polyhydroxyalkanoates) under the brand MINERV. MINERV-PHAs can be used as cosmetics ingredients because they are based on polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), which is a fully biodegradable PHA. For this reason, MINERV can be easily biodegraded in both marine water and soil yielding simple by-products such as carbon dioxide and water." Bio-on's biopolymers "successfully replace highly polluting products such as PET, PP, PE, HDPE, and LDPE", which are widely used in cosmetics such as lipstick, lip gloss, mascara, eye-liner, nail polish, creams, shampoos, shower gels and toothpastes. The presence of these microscopic plastic particles, which are oil-based and not biodegradable, is the cause of increasing marine pollution and a source of alarm around the world.

Frost & Sullivan confirms that the bioplastic microspheres patented by Bio-on (produced in various sizes and resembling a powder) are "incredibly versatile, with applications ranging from skin cream and make-up to hair care or hygiene products" and, if their high porosity is exploited, they "can act as a carrier and dispenser of bioactive ingredients such as vitamins, enzymes, fragrances, and other cosmetic actives".

The award recognises that Bio-on bioplastics "are a sustainable alternative to synthetic polymers for use in not only cosmetics, but also in the food, healthcare, packaging, and FMCG industries. Looking ahead," write the analysts at Frost & Sullivan, "the PHAs could provide a potential solution for cancer treatment within the next few years".

"The company is differentiated from its competitors by its capacity to address specific challenges its customers face by developing customized solutions", writes Frost & Sullivan, and "offering end-to-end support in research, development, manufacturing, and even technology licensing".

The main characteristics that distinguish Minerv Bio Cosmetics, the cosmetics ingredients (resembling a powder) made from Bio-on bioplastic microspheres of various sizes, are listed below:

  • 100% natural. Made from renewable plant sources using a bacterial fermentation process (human-friendly, non-pathogenic bacteria) and the entire process uses mechanical methods without chemical solvents.
  • 100% biodegradable. Full biodegradability in water and soil certified by Vincotte.
  • Exceptionally high sphericity. This is a highly sought after characteristic in the cosmetics sector, and particularly in texturizing powders, because it guarantees smooth creams that are easier and more pleasurable to apply.
  • High porosity. Thanks to this characteristic, bioplastic microcapsules can be "loaded" with and easily absorb active substances, which can then be carried and released for various applications. For some cosmetic creams, high porosity helps control excess sebum.
  • Extraordinary optical properties. Bio-on's bioplastic microspheres help make cosmetics that exceed the mattifying effect of most products currently on the market.
  • They can also be used in sun protection products. The booster effect of Bio-on's cosmetics ingredients drastically reduces the quantity of chemical UV filters to be used in the formulation.
  • It is a platform product. The powders produced from 5 to 20 micron in size can be used in not only cosmetics, but also in the food, healthcare, packaging and FMCG industries. In the future, it could provide a solution for cancer treatment thanks to the ability of the microspheres to act as a carrier of active substances.

Reduction of single-use plastics needs to tie in with circular economy actions and consumption realities in Europe

The European Parliament approved today its report on the draft Directive on Marine Pollution and Single-use Plastics. “European Bioplastics fully supports the transition from a linear to a circular economy. Bioplastics enable more sustainable solutions for a range of products“, says François de Bie, Chairman of European Bioplastics (EUBP).“We agree on the importance of reducing single-use plastic products where feasible, but hygiene and food safety cannot be compromised. With regard to some of the concerned single-use products – such as e.g. plates and cutlery –, biodegradable certified compostable plastics provide an organically recyclable alternative“.

EUBP considers the Parliament's decision to restrict the use of single-use cutlery and plates as not sufficiently considering the reality of food consumption in Europe. In certain closed-loop contexts, such as canteens, air travel, or sport and music events, these are an indispensable and efficient solution to guarantee safety and hygiene for food and drinks while ensuring at the same time waste collection and recycling.

Biodegradable certified compostable plastics fulfil Europe's rigorous requirements and standards for health and safety and can be recycled organically together with the food waste.

EUBP fully supports the Parliament's suggestion to restrict products made from oxo-degradable plastics, which is in line with earlier statements by the Parliament and the European Commission in the context of the EU Plastics Strategy.

Concerning biodegradability in the marine environment, EUBP stresses that it is an interesting property. However, it needs to be clearly defined for which materials, products and under which circumstances this property is of added value. Improving waste management on land and building efficient mechanical and organic recycling infrastructures across Europe remain a priority when it comes to fighting marine pollution.

EUBP looks forward to further constructive discussions with the European Commission, the Parliament, and the Council during the upcoming trilogues in order to realise a truly sustainable, no-litter, circular economy for Europe.

Reviewed European bioeconomy strategy strengthens defossilisaion of plastics sector

The European Commission recently delivered its review of the 2012 European Bioeconomy Strategy. The strategy is a step forward towards ensuring that fossil resources are replaced by sustainable natural alternatives for the production of bio-based products such as bio-based plastics and energy. 'Only by driving the transition in relevant markets, it will be possible to reach Europe's climate change mitigation goals', says Hasso von Pogrell, Managing Director at European Bioplastics (EUBP). 'Implementation of the key actions of the updated Bioeconomy Strategy is paramount to making this happen'.

The strategy focuses on the importance of a stable regulatory framework as well as on research and innovation to accelerate the growth of the bioeconomy, which is already worth around 2,1 trillion euros in annual turnover in Europe. Specifically, the bioplastics industry not only helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also contributes to employment growth in Europe and to the development of rural areas. 'The bioplastics industry is a main driver of the bioeconomy,' says Mr von Pogrell. 'According to a study of EuropaBio, it accounts for about 23,000 jobs in Europe. With suitable investment and regulatory frameworks, this number could increase by 2030 with up to 300,000 high skilled jobs'.

European Bioplastics welcomes the Commission's support for using bio-based feedstock for the production of plastics. Furthermore, the strategy underlines that bio-based plastics should be mechanically or organically recyclable and by this links the concepts of bioeconomy and circular economy.

The new document aims at fostering research into plastics which are biodegradable in the marine environment and refers to the currently debated draft directive on marine pollution and single-use plastics. 'While marine biodegradability can be an interesting property, it is important to clearly define for which materials and applications and under which conditions it is meaningful. In the context of single-use plastic items, European Bioplastics considers soundly established land-based waste management as the key to fight marine pollution', states von Pogrell.

As the European Bioeconomy Alliance (EUBA) has already pointed out, the Bioeconomy Strategy should deliver the following five policy priorities in order to ensure Europe's leadership in the sector: making the circular bioeconomy an integral part of EU‐level frameworks and policies; increasing funding and improving coherence of financing mechanisms for the circular bioeconomy; securing the Bio‐Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) 2.0; creating incentives for bio‐based products in strategic sectors; and promoting bio‐based products' visibility to stimulate market demand.

High-performance, renewable polymer additives displayed at Vinyltec 2018

Emery Oleochemicals, a world leading, natural–based chemicals producer and the largest oleochemicals manufacturer in North America, has showcased its Green Polymer Additives business along with its renewable polymer additives portfolio that includes lubricants, plasticizers and antifogging agents at the Vinyltec 2018 Conference, taking place in Chicago, Illinois, USA from October 23–25.

Emery's EDENOL bio-based plasticizers improves the processability and performance of plastics and synthetic rubbers. They also impart flexibility and durability to the finished article. They offer a wide range of phthalate-free plasticizers for high performance and technical applications, including both polymeric plasticizers and monomeric plasticizers.

Emery also had a technical presentation by Chris Ciolino, Product and Application Development Manager, entitled “Benefits of Azelaic Acid Bio-Based Plasticizers to Enhance Key Vinyl Properties”, on, October 24th

The company has manufacturing locations in North America, Europe and Asia, as well as back integration.

Further information from:

Alpla creates a biodegradable coffee capsule with Golden Compound

Together with materials manufacturer Golden Compound, ALPLA has developed a biodegradable coffee capsule that consumers can dispose of in their home compost.

The capsule is made from the material Golden Compound green, an organically based material, with ground natural fibres from sunflower seed shells.

The organically based synthetic material with sunflower seed shells protects fossil resources and the oxygen barrier is very much comparable with conventional plastics such as PP-EVOH-PP.

The capsule and filter fleece are completely biodegradable in the garden compost within a maximum of six months, and are free from aluminium and genetically modified organisms.

ALPLA provides its customers with the capsule and the garden-compostable lid, which is available in several colours.

The monolayer coffee capsule is aroma-proof without outer packaging and Golden Compound green is certified in line with the standards 'OK compost HOME' and 'OK biodegradable SOIL' from TÜV.

Two Farmers create biodegradable crisp packet from eucalyptus wood pulp that decomposes in 26 weeks

Two Farmers have created the UK's first biodegradable crisp packet which will turn to compost after 26 weeks.

Sean Mason and Mark Green, from Herefordshire, have beaten the 2025 deadline for compostable packets set by potato snack giant Walkers, who recently faced a backlash over its non-recyclable packaging. The packets are made from cellulose and sustainably grown eucalyptus trees, the company's website said, meaning they can return to nature in the space of half a year.

Flavours from Two Farmers include Hereford Hop Cheese and Onion, Salt and Cider Vineger, and Hereford Bullshot which features a hint of Hereford beef. The packets can break down in six months in a 'home composting environment' and are also sold in recyclable tins, the founders said.

Two Farmers co-founder Mr Mason said on the firm's website that 'a potato merchant inspired him to protect the countryside around him'. Mr Green said he is a 'second-generation farmer' who 'wanted to produce something that would firmly cement Herefordshire on the foodie map'.

The founders wrote on Facebook: 'We are proud to be producing our new range of crisps in 100 per cent compostable packs, a first we think for the UK and a big step forward in dealing with our waste issues.

'Our bags will completely break down in a home composting environment in 26 weeks. We are really excited about this innovation and the feedback we have had is amazing.'

The crisp company previously said it was committed to making its packaging recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025. The British manufacturer currently produces in the region of 11 million new packets each day.

U of T startup that turns food waste into high-quality bio-plastic eyes next phase of growth

Luna Yu is passionate about not wasting food.

“I was taught at an early age by my grandparents never to waste food since it was throwing away the hard work of farmers and food producers,” says Yu, a recent graduate from the Master of Environmental Science program at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

“More than $1 trillion worth of food is wasted globally every year. What we're able to do is take this waste and turn it into something of higher value.”

It's no wonder that passion led Yu to team up with a talented group of scientists and engineers – many of whom are U of T students or recent graduates – to form Genecis. The company uses recent advancements in biotechnology, microbial engineering and machine learning to take food destined for the landfill and convert it into PHAs – a high-quality, fully biodegradable form of plastic.

It's not Yu's first foray into entrepreneurship. She worked at a software company as an undergrad before moving to another startup that converted restaurant food waste into biogas. It was there she met several talented engineers, learned about the microbiology of converting discarded food into other materials, and discovered a valuable lesson in the economics of recycling food waste.

“Converting food waste into biogas is time-consuming process and the end product is fairly low value,” she says.

After connecting with a fellow environmental science student in The Hub, U of T Scarborough's entrepreneurial incubator, they started looking into what else could be made from food waste.

“We looked at different types of bio-rubbers and bio-chemicals before landing on PHAs. We felt it had the biggest market potential.”

PHAs, or polyhydroxyalkanoates, are polymers produced by bacteria that have many benefits over other forms of bio-plastics, explains Yu. For one, they can be a thermoplastic, meaning it can be easily moulded and remoulded into different products. Another benefit is that, unlike many other forms of bio-plastics, it won't ruin the recycling process.

“Many people throw bio-plastics into the recycling bin rather than the compost, but if it's not a thermoplastic it can't be remoulded and this disrupts the physical properties of new recycled products. They will end up falling apart,” she says.

PHAs won't cause this problem if they accidentally end up in recycling bins, making them much easier for waste management companies to handle.

But what really sold Yu on the benefits of PHAs is the fact that they're fully biodegradable. PHAs degrade within one year in the environment, and fewer than 10 years in water. Synthetic plastics can take hundreds of years to degrade in similar environments.

While PHAs can be used to make pretty much anything out of plastic, Yu says the ones made by Genecis are best suited for higher-end, multi-use products like toys, flexible packaging, 3D-printing filament and medical applications including surgical staples, sutures and stents.

Genecis uses a three-step process to create their PHAs. First, a bacteria culture breaks down the food waste into volatile fatty acids.The fatty acids are added to another bacteria culture specially selected to produce PHAs in their cells. Finally, an extraction process breaks open the cells, then collects and purifies the plastic.

The entire process takes seven days. “Making biogas, on the other hand, takes an average of 21 days,” Yu says.

The company's main lab in U of T's Banting and Best Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship houses pilot-scale bioreactors that can complete the three-step process. The other location in the Environmental Science and Chemistry Building at U of T Scarborough is responsible for research and development in looking for ways to optimize their production process. When Genecis opens its demonstration plant with an industry partner later next year, it will be able to convert three tonnes of organic waste into PHAs weekly.

In less than two years of existence, Genecis has already won more than $330,000 in prize money from startup competitions. Yu says the support, guidance and mentorship they've received from The Hub, the Creative Destruction Lab, and the Hatchery, a startup accelerator at the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, have also been instrumental in their growth.

As they aim to ramp up production, Yu says this support and the lessons learned from her work in other startups will be invaluable.

“Our goal is to create the highest value from organic waste,” says Yu, adding they have cultured and isolated hundreds of species of bacteria that currently don't exist in databases. Soon we will be able to synthesize speciality chemicals and other materials from organic waste, all at a lower cost than traditional production methods using synthetic biology,” she says.

Those specialty chemicals can be used in a range of products, including those found in cosmetics and the health and wellness industry, says Yu.