European Bioplastics Conference – Day 2 (Nov 6)

1 – Sustainability at IKea

  • by Per Stoltz, Sustainability Manager

“Waste of resources is the biggest illness of mankind” Ingmar Kamprad founder of Ikea. Ikea has now the size to be a game changer and is very conscious about its social responsibility. It took 15 years to have all the suppliers adhere to the code of conduct of Ikea. 49% of wood used coming from FSC certified forests. Ikea helping suppliers to get their forests certified to raise that number.

Lots of opportunities to apply the principles of a circular economy at Ikea and specifically: use of recycled materials (e.g. Mästerby furniture in recycled PP) ecodesign of products and interaction with customers to get better value and longer life from Ikea products ( e.g.new range of spare parts) .

Recycled material is not the first reason to buy. Sequence is ” I like the products and it appeals to me, I can afford it, and by the way, it is made of recycled material”.

For plastics, objective is to work with 100% renewable or recycled plastics and specifically to favour plastics made from cellulosic sugars (2nd gen) rather than from food/feedstock. No price premium will be asked to customers for that. Sustainability is also intrinsically in Ikea’ s ADN as they are a family company with long term views.

2 – Advancing biobased plastics at M&S

  • by Kevin Vyse, Packaging innovation lead

Sustainable design must deliver meaningful innovations that can shift behaviour. In spite of its relatively small size, M&S is regarded by customers as a game changer. These expect they would spearhead a lot of initiatives to face the challenge of climate change and foster the circular economy. And invite them, the customers, to be part of it.

Bioplastics, renewable and biodegradable is a part of the solution but not all. It adds complexity for the customer so they need to rely on their store to do the right thing with integrity. Customers do not need to know what we are doing. They just need to benefit. Trust is paramount.

We have undervalued plastics and are very late in recycling if compared to paperboard, steel and glass. Design and engineering, scientists from other fields will be key to catch-up and get out of the “expertise silo”. What we do will need to be safe and healthy. Again trust is paramount.

Plantic (Australia) for bioplastics and Veolia (France) for recyclability are cited as exemplary product and service suppliers working on the challenge with M&S.

3. Green Sport Allinace

  • by Steve Davies, Director public affaires and communication NatureWorks

Steve Underlines the cultural influence of sport : 61% of US citizens follow sports. 13% follow science.

The Green Sport Alliance is gathering teams and leagues plus stadiums and arenas around a set of environmentally preferable practices to promote healthy and sustainable communities, starting with supporters and fans.

NatureWorks is contributing to reduce the carbon footprint of sport events as Ingeo resin ” turns CO2 into a functional product ” in this case for food on the go. NatureWorks brings to the Alliance a supply chain of more sustainable Food Serviceware products (renewable and compostable).Achievement is a 87% landfill diversion rate for a stadium joining the Green Alliance. This contributes to fans engagement as they understand their stadium is doing the right thing for them.

NatureWorks recently launched a new 3D printing platform allowing to tailor make small series of objects to promote a specific event.

4. Panel Discussion

  • Philippe Diercxsens, head of environment at Danone Waters
  • Michael Knutzen, CocaCola Global Director for Plant Bottle
  • Per Stolz, Ikea
  • moderated by Henri Colens Dir Public affairs Europe Braskem

Danone’s challenge is to replace polystyrene specifically for dairy products. PLA was trialled in Germany but was a commercial failure as the look was not up to expectations.

Bio-sourced PET is a good candidate for water as for Coca Cola. PEF from FDCA with Avantium is mentioned as a potential PET replacement candidate of PS for the future.

Coca Cola has deployed plant bottle 1.0 in 42 countries and have a plan to deploy plant bottle 2.0 , 100% renewable, by 2030. (Please refer to the report of the Nova Institute Conference of April 2015 on this blog for more details on this project). Plant bottle does not sell for sustainability. It sell on the pleasure and refreshment of drinking Coca Cola that is expected by the consumer to do the right thing about the container.

Ikea has different perspective as its products are by definition durable/ long life. bioplastics currently come into the ecodesign of products.

  • Question 1 raised by Henri: why is it taking so long?

Answers of the panelists is that a lot has been achieved in the last 40 years since the Stockholm conference. The most difficult challenge is to change the culture of the linear vision (Porduce-Consume-Dispose) across the value chain down to the consumer whilst maintaining the promise of availability and affordability of the product.

  • Question 2: what is your position about a global carbon price of around 50 USD per ton?

None of the panelist have a clearcut answer or the authority to talk about the matter. They give the following comments, however. What is primarily needed is clarity about regulations, whatever they might be. Hidden subsidies and heterogeneity of rules are the real killers. We also need an homogeneous and universal way to calculate the carbon footprint or LCA of a product.

  • Question 3: the whole growth projected by European bioplastics by 2020 is related to plant bottle. Will the programme carry on at pace or is there a halt?

Expansion of capabilities in Europe, the US and LA is the factor hampering volume growth beyond the current 10% year on year. It is being addressed. The price of crude will have little influence.

  • Question 4: 100% bio-based PET plant bottle was presented in Milan Expo. When is this going to go to commercial scale?

We have celebrated the milestone of having it available at pilot scale in Milan. Scaling up will require to mend the right partnerships and we are not in a position to give a date yet.

5. New OK biodegradable Marine Certification

  • by Petra Michiels, Contract manager Vinçotte.

OK compost celebrates this year their 20th birthday. OK home compost is a bit younger. The youngest brother in the family is OK Marine biodegradable.

Certification is possible for all products but the authorization to apply the logo on the product is limited to a very small number of products not to encourage littering in oceans.

US ASTM D7081 is delivered as per the same tests and results as OK Marine Biodegradable from Vinçotte ( Biodegradation, ecotoxicity, desintegration) . Only heavy metals maximum levels differ as they are not yet specified in the US std. More info on okbiodegradable@vincotte.be

6. Introducing the Open-Bio project

  • by Lara Dammer Nova-Institute and Antonis Mistriotis Agriculture University Athens

Open Bio is a EU project funded by a FP7 budget of 8 million €. Objective is to open the market for bio-based product by defining standards, test methods, labels and consumer communication. And also by facilitating the procurement of bio based products.

14 partners.
Multi-issue labels are preferred to single issue labels to convey a message to consumer that the product is environment friendly as per national norm or EU norms.

For the Open- Bio project, EU Ecolabel existing since 1992 , will be extended beyond the 26 existing product categories and a catalogue of criteria is being developed for a dedicated group of bio based products.

The Open Bio project is also devising comprehensive new testing methods and running laboratory and field tests to develop a new set of certification criteria for marine biodegradation specifically of bio-based plastics like eg PHB, PBSE and PBSET. The latter was found not to degrade in the pelagic zone of the ocean. The field tests take place near the Elba Island in Italy and the Salamis Islands in Greece.

The effect of fouling on the degradation process is one of the novel themes of particular interest.

7. The 360° end-of-life perspective on food packaging waste

  • by Itai Pelled, R&D director TIPA

What improvements can bioplastics really offer? Food packaging represent 2/3 of the total volume of waste. Recycling does not work for flexible multi-layer packaging. Fruit skin is the perfect package eg the orange peel :. it is renewable, it preserves and isolates what we eat, and it starts to degrade as soon as we litter it. Should be a guiding line for bioplastics. Great idea Sir but where do we go from there?

8. Biobased feedstocks for bioplastics

  • by Michael Carus MD Nova Institute

Nova Institute performed a global analysis of biomass availability and supply/demand situation for all its usages in 2011 and projected a vision to 2050.

This is study based on 100 parameters has reportedly never been done before. Biomass (dry matter ) represents a volume of 12 Bn metric tons per year, 40% being harvested agricultural biomass, 31% graze biomass and 18% wood biomass. 58% goes for feed, 16% for bio-energy, 14 % for plant based food and 12 % for materials. Biofuels represent a tiny fraction of some % pts.

Three scenarios are developed for 2050 biomass volume ranging from no growth to doubling versus the current level. Five scenarios are developed on the demand side.

Today 2% of the polymers are bio-based and the 2050 scenarios for biomass demand include the assumption for bio based polymers as a % of total going up by 25 to 95%, the latter for the sake of simulatingbthe upper demand scenario.

The conclusion is that if biomass stays at its current level, it can only cover feed and food in 2050. If it doubles by 2050, it can cover needs even for the highest demand scenario for chemicals and energy. The full details will be presented to the German ministries which sponsored the study at a conference in Köln airport conference center. If interested, you are invited to contact michael.carus@nova-institut.de

9. Land use for bioplastics- how to calculate it accurately

  • by Hans Josef Endres Hannover University of applied sciences

Land use for bioplastics in 2014 is 6800 km2 and is expected to only double to 14000km2 in 2019 due to better biomass yields and bioplastics production process efficiency gains.

The methodology is bottom up starting from the assumptions of biomass plastics and biodegradable bioplastics production volume then retro calculating the land use for each type of feedstock with yiels applied at each level.

Eg : installed production capacity of PLA is 210,000 tons and would require 76,000 ha to run at full capacity with maize starch as per the current feedstock.

Same calculation has been applied to other biopolymers based on current feed stock being used to produce them. Of course these are assumptions of impact factors , each of them being susceptible to variations over time. The span of results for land use therefore varies by a magnitude of 1 to 5 for a single polymer like PLA.

The capability of the model for predicting land use associated with the production of bioplastics is very limited and does help to quiet down the emotional debate on the subject. Recommendation from Hans-Josef Endres is to calculate the worse scenario to be certain not to underestimate the impact that anyway, even in the worse scenario is very marginally affecting agricultural available land: order of magnitude 2% . With only 10% of the fresh land, we would be able to replace all the petro-chemicals plastics produced today.

10. The point of view of feedstock providers

  • by Mahir Gorur, Cargill – Starches and sweeteners

Cargill :155 000 people and $135 Bn turnover via 66 different Business Units
The carbohydrates stream from cereals allows to produce sweeteners, polyols and starch.

Cargill is strong on the front line of the value chain and work in partnerships down the value chain where it has not the necessary expertise. This translate into gathering plants of various stakeholders on the same site and sharing the utilities. This is how bio-refineries can be successful and economically efficient.

11 . Feedstock sustainability and certification – Panel discussion

  • Sabine Ziem Milojevic, E4tech a sustainability assessment consulting firm
  • Melanie Williams, Round Table on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB)
  • Jan Henke, ISCC, an institute for carbon footprint certification
  • Michael Carus, Nova Institut
  • Hans Josef Endres Hannover University

We are at a turn between 1st gen and 2nd gen bio-refineries and the pressure on food/feedstock is likely not to increase whereas pressure on non food/ feed biomass will increase.

Panelists agree it is important to certify the sustainability of the agricultural methods applied to land use whichever is the actual end use of the crop between food, feed, bio-energy or biochemicals, as the decision on how the crop is going to be used happens downstream and most of the time without the involvement of the farmer. The responsibility of the biochemicals producer is to ensure that its feedstock is coming from certified farms/ crops as for forest.

Question : Currently the level of certification of the feedstock used for the production of bioplastics and biochemicals is very low and we have little information on what would be the additional cost of sourcing certified feedstocks. Panelists answer customer confidence and market access benefits would offset the cost of sourcing certified feedstock. However the additional cost itself is not mentioned by any panelist although it seems it should be part of their core expertise.

Questions are raised about the need for bioplastics to source certified feedstock whereas brand leaders in the food industry sector don’t ( eg for sugar ).

The question boils down to what is the objective is and whether the certification is an enabler to reach the objective or if more efficient and sometimes easier measures would be more efficient. Certification is not an objective per se.

Conclusion

  • by François de Bie

This year edition has seen a significant number of brand owners on stage to deliver their view on bioplastics which is helpful even if not always as encouraging as we would expect. There are still a number of obstacles down the road but we can go over provided rules and regulations and standards to be adhered to are clear and stable and we can build trust all along the supply chain. There is a lot of energy being deployed and we should continue until we reconvene next year.

Here’s the Summary of Day 1

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