Conference Notes Packaging

​​European Bioplastics Conference, Berlin November 2016 – Summary

This year edition of the European Bioplastics Conference was rich in content, especially for what concerns new molecules and new sugar platforms. Its specific waste management angle was able to cast light on the end of life of bioplastics and their specific role in transitioning from a linear to a circular economy, be it for bioplastics themselves or as an enabler of the separate collection and valorization of organic waste.

If the interventions of representatives from the European Commission did not trigger more enthusiasm than during the previous editions, several announcements made during the conference speeches or off line deserve attention.

  • For the first time, it was clear that the expectations of industry and end-users converge in expecting more and better functionalities from the molecules or compounds that are under development or under industrialization. These new molecules now more clearly appear to be major contributors too future growth after a period of absolute domination of the pie charts by bio-sourced traditional polymers (sugar based PE and PET). PEF of course raises a lot of expectations but also the alpha 1.3 linkage engineered polysaccharides platform under development by Dupont Industrial Biosciences ( see #11 below for details)
  • The strategic move of Neste into beet sugar based polypropylene which is the root cause of their recently announced partnership with IKEA created quite a buzz in the corridors. I was told that they have developed a much smarter an shorter process route than the one once anticipated by Braskem which never turned into industrial reality as it was not proven competitive.
  • The new European standard EN 16785-1 using C14 carbon analysis and elemental analysis to certify the bio-based content of products has been published and the plastic strategy for the EU will be issued at the end of 2017.
  • USDA labelling of bio-based products is proven very efficient in the US and is very much expected in Europe where end-user confusion over multiple labelling persists .

I report below in more details a digest of what was presented by the speakers and seemed to me of interest for our faithful readers.

Detailed Report on day 1

Welcome address by François de Bie, Chaiman of the Board of European Bioplastics, who thanks the 292 registered participants for their massive interest for the event and the topic. He gives an overview of where bioplastics fit in the circular economy (referring to Ellen Mc Arthur Foundation and Mc Kinsey ‘s presentation at the World Economic Forum).

The global production capacity for bio-based plastics is now 4.16 million tons and is projected to rise to 6.1 million tons in 2021, boosted by a solid grow of novel bio-polymers as opposed to bio-sourced traditional polymers such as sugar cane base PE. (Source 2015 study by Nova Institute).

National legislations in Europe are helping to give some additional momentum to the market (e.g. The Italian and French legislation banning non bio-degradable shipping bags). He emphasizes the new European standard EN 16785-1 using C14 carbon analysis and elemental analysis to certify the bio-based content of products .

Then Mr de Bie gives the floor to the first speaker : Joanna Dupont-Inglis , director industrial biotechnology of Europabio, who chair the first part of the day entitled “Rethinking plastics”.

I report below a digest of what was presented by the speakers and seemed to me of interest for our faithful readers.

1. The potential of bioplastics in the course of the European Commission’ environment agenda- Hugo-Maria Schally Head of Ubit ENV.B1 Sustainable Production, Products and Consumption DG Environment

CIrcular Economy is a concept in which the ressource efficiency policy initiated in 2011 by the EU Commission is rooted. The First Circular Economy package was issued in July 2014 and heavily criticized for not being holistic enough, not addressing the entire value chain.

A new Circular Economy package was presented and adopted in 2016. The full interaction with business and society at large has produced fruit. The transition form linear (extraxt, produce, consume, dispose) to circular has started. Priority sectors have been defined and a do list of 54 actions establised

The role of plastics within the implementation of the Circular Economy package is critically important. Relevant actions from the list are:

  • Decouple plastic production from fossil feedstock,
  • Establish standards for secondary raw materials ( getting them out of the status of waste)
  • Legislate on marine litter and leakage of plastics in the environment at large

Bio-plastics role is essential but the concern of land use is very present in the vision of the EU Commissioners. The resource competition, the bio-degradability and the sustainability of bio-plastics are heavily scrutinized to ensure the development of reallly sustainable products and processes.

Biobased is not enough. “We need to ensure it is also sustainable in terms of landuse and landuse competition for foodstock and feedstock”.

Linear plastic is on its way out and Circular plastic is IN, no doubt. A roadmap is planned to be published in a couple of weeks. The plastic strategy for the EU will be issued at the end of 2017. The participants of this conference should consider the challenges around and how the industry is going to stand-up to them.

2. The European Commission’s R&D Agenda for a Circular Bio-economy

The bioeconomy is a cornerstone of the EU low carbon strategy. Biorefinery are the heart of the bioeconomy as bioeconomy is a biomass economy.

Three big pillars : Investment in R&I (doubled up to 3.8 billion in Horizon 202), policy interaction and involvement of members states, Several Member States have developed their bio-economy strategy. The latest from Italy has just been issued.

The Circular Economy Package gives a global policy context to the development of the bio-economy, with a revived legislation on waste and plastics strategy as specific translation for the plastics sector. Biowaste collection to turn it into biofuels and bioplastics is an initiative that is encouraged (e.g. The specific plan of the city of Amsterdam). R&D funding is 174million € in H2020. The EU is investing 1bn€ in the PPP with the Biobased Industry Consortium (BIC) of a total budget of 3.7 bn€.

Number one issue down the road is biomass availability when considering a low biomass supply / high biomass demand scenario (as presented in the simulations produced by the Nova Institute). Biomass reserves are available especially in the Eastern part of Europe but it requires biomass/ forest management to be encouraged and implementad efficiently.

3. An Enabling Regulatory Framework by Dr Sabine von Wireen-Lehr Senior Mag Public Affairs – Tetrapak

Global dynamics shape our business environment, challenge it and challenge us as individuals. Tetrapak dedicates 300million € annually to R&D expenses, a majority of is devoted to increasing the sustainability of the product they source and finding replacement of linear plastics by circular plastics in the liquid food packaging systems they market.

The challenge of these replacement is : a supply chain able to deliver globally at a sustainable quality level and a competitive price with the legacy material.

This is where the policy framework comes into play to provide security for investment, ensure a level playing field and open markets with enabling strategies and incentive schemes. Within that framework , the market forces should be left free to develop the most sustainable and efficient formulation and solution to satisfy the customers needs. In other words the subsidiarity principle should be applied there too.

4. Sports as a game changer by Justin Zéulner Executive Director Green Sports Alliance

The Green Sports Alliance encourages its now 400 members to foster business models that are increasingly sustainable and socially integrative. Sport is a substantial platform to invoke change as is has a massive cultural influence, specifically in the US. Sport should be exemplary and lead the way into a change of awareness of all its stakeholders and followers (170 million regular followers in the US).

Industry partnerships with bioplastics producers are part of the initiatives like the partnership with NatureWorks Ingeo on PLA based “food on the go” utensils. The partnership resulted into the development of serviceware to collect and bring wasted PLA utensils , cups and trays, to an industrial composting center and get it transformed into compost as opposed to landfilled. The bio-plastics industry has an obligation ahead : leverage on sports to get their proposal of more sustainable products through.

5. Sustainable packaging for anaerobic adhesive by Peter O.Sullivan , Manager AO Packaging Henkel

Adhesive is one of the three business divisions of Henkel. “Sustainability” is a motto across all divisions. Long term ambition of Henkel is to multiply the value versus footprint ratio by 3 by 2030.

Short term and daily, Henkel work on removing the hazard label requirement for all its adhesive turning them into health and safety sound product like Loctite 2400 and 2700. Change could not be complete without addressing the packaging of these products.

Cardia Bioplastics was finally picked-up as a partner for replacing the legacy package of Loclite retail pack. Cardia Bioplastics bio-based BLF resin was blended with the legacy LDPE to reach the best compromise between footprint and functionality (eg squeezability and high oxygen transmission necessary to maintain content stability. Patent was filed in 2016 on the particular blend. This offer is now being rolled-out and the findings will be leveraged to change other packaging .

6. Bio-sourced materials : a future for the car industry?by Alexia Roma from the Renault Techno center

Polymers in automotive represent today 20% of the weight and 30% of the cost of a vehicle on average. Primarily PP for interior and external parts, PU for interior parts and PA or PEEK for engine parts. In order to reach CAFE target of 95g CO2 emission per km by 2020, weight reduction is the most efficient path.

Bio-based materials and bio-composites are used in automotive in parallel with reecycled materials and contribute to the eco image of brands ( namely Toyota and PSA as early as 2011, Ford and Kia in 2012-2104 and BMW in 2015 with the BMWi3).

They specifically support the image of their electric car with the use of high percentages of bio-based materials. Natural fibers, wood, leather, bio-PUR, Bio-PA , PTT or blends /composites of the same are the main bio-sourced products used by the automotive industry.

Renault’s strategy focuses on customer value , cost reduction, durability and footprint as number 4. Specific bio-based plastics with specific performances e.g. PA11 and PA 6.10 or PA10.10 are easier to introduce than bio-sourced traditional polymers e.g. Sugar cane PE which are more expensive without bringing additional functionalities. Polycarbonate-isosorbide is currently under test by Renault which claims to be very opened to new bio-plastic materials .

7. Innovative thermoplastics starch and aliphatic polyester blend solutions by Mike Gross Corporate Research & Engineering Kimberly Clark

KC has a 18.6 bn USD turnover. 43,000 employees worldwide. Number one or two position on the market in more than 80 countries. Sustainability 2015 target called for 25% of turnover with sustainable products by 2015.

TPS and PLA blend development has been the central point of focus to achieve this goal , and produce flushable and bio-degradable packaging film. The formulation are based on 60% Ecoflex°resin blended with 40% TPS to obtain the target properties. When barrier properties are needed, PVOH resin is used in the formulation.

Other materials developed were PLA bio-polyester for non woven application, PLA calcium carbonate blends using again Ecoflex and EnPol resins. These developments gave birth to the Huggies Naturemade diapers which have proven extremely successful and well received by the market.

TPS based film was launched massively in China as overwrap film and met market expectations whilst contributing to the corporate target. This is another example of success met in Asia with bio-based products. Reason for launching these innovation in Asia preferably to Europe has a lot to do with the waste treatment schemes.

8. Green bags: renewable and recyclable but not what you think by yuki Hamilton Onda Kabe LCA expert Braskem

LCA is the only method able to deliver the true answer to the actual sustainability of a product. LCA deliver a thorough analysis of the impact of a particular product on natural resources and our environment and compare this impact to the one of another product.

Example given : a sugar cane PE promotion bag has a lower environmental impact than a kraft paper promotional bag. And this is a rather surprising result. It is surprising because it collides with a paradigm: “paper is good ; plastic is bad”.

Of course, in both cases, implementation of best practices for forest management or sugar cane growing can improve the score further for each of the compared product. And this is a fair facts based competition that creates a virtuous circle for all products assessed and compared.

9. Bio-PBS Bioplastics Technology by Chinnawat Srirojpinyo, division manager and Ryuichiro Sugimoto PTT MCC Biochem JV (PTT and Mitsubishi Chemicals)

Biochem is devoted to the production of bio-PBS reported to have superior biodegradability as strenght , including home composting and field degradability.

It is protected by patents on bio-mass based high quality polyesters, with a low level of residual sulphur and nitrogen. Bio-succinic acid combined with 1.4 butanediol deliver a fully bio based PBS which is not yet the case today for MCC but is announced to come soon. The properties of MCC bio-PBS in terms of biodegradability and food contact including hot food or liquid are detailed. Applications mentioned for bio-based PBS are

  • Papercoating to make compostable paper cups
  • Blown film for dry lamination as selant layer, offering a higher heat seal strength than LDPE or LLDPE
  • Bio-PBS and PLA blends for an improved thermal resistance and impact of e.g. Coffee capsules or injection moulding of utensils
  • Monofilament for fish net application : BioFiMa

10. PLA packaging for food and beverage products by Enrique Moliner from AIMPLAS Valencia

Aimplas is a technology center with more than 25 yrs of experience of technical service ware to the plastic industry.

BIO4MAP project they are part of aimed at developing a transparent multilayer O2 barrier biodegradable structure for MAP tray lidding film. It was financed under the 7th framework program of the EU

The structure PLA/ bio-tie /PVOH/ bio-tie/ PLA with a thickness of 100 microns. The structure was finally coated with a natural wax as antifog. The carbon footptint of the structure was 29% lower than the market standard and the cost was 25% lower than the reference film (LLDPE/EVOH/LLDPE)

Aimplas also developped PLA based bottles for a winemaker to replace PET bottles. They launched the first ever PLA bottle in the traditional shape of a Rioja wine bottle. Siox coating brought the desired gas barrier. This bottle is undegoing a long haul wine preservation comparative test with the glass bottle as reference.

11. Enzymatic polymerization biotechnology enabled PolySaccharides and applications by Christian Lenges- Business Development BioMaterials at Dupont Industrial Biosciences

Nuvolve is the trade name of the new product range presented by Dupont. It is in line with customer expectations for new , better performing, more functional products and innovation. Not greener products for the sake of it.

Dupont has a biomaterials strategy aiming at disrupting markets by offering performances and footprint advantage. Hence the partnership in FDCA and the development of polysaccharides extracted from plants like cellulose and starch but specifically alpha 1.3 linkage engineered polysaccharides .

The process converts sucrose into a polymer using a biocatalyst /enzyme . Why is it of interest? It reportedly brings interesting possibilities in terms of material branching and structural design. Products obtained are purer than polysaccharides extracted from’plants and they can be customized.

Sugar is a fantastic raw material produced in many regions and has the highest kg per ha carbohydrate production efficiency (11000kg per ha)

First commercial tests expected in 2017. Capacity available : 150 tons. Applications: fibers (homofibers and blends ) especially for fiber spun bond process with increased properties in fiber absorption /retention; paper coating to improve printability due to faster ink absorption; reinforcing fillers in rubber as a substitute of carbon black and silica.

Thinking of the possibility to use the chemistry tool box to open the door to derivative polymers and develop a family of new bio-based resins for the packaging industry (blown film and thermoformable cast film .)

Interesting to see how this initiative is going to survive the merger-demerger process that is going to happen between Dow and Dupont in the next 12 months and if it will finally benefit from the new customer base to find its market.

12. The impact of biobased product industry on the US econnomy by Marie Wheat USDA Biopreferred program.

The program just celebrated five years and is bearing fruit. It is proven to increase Federal procurement of bio-based products and to create market pull through voluntary labelling of the bio-based product suppliers. 2800 products have received a bio-based label from USDA to date.

There is a minimum biobased product for a product to be accepted in the scheme and the process to get a USDA certified Biobed Product label is smooth and quick

13. Quo Vadis Waste management – Panel discussion .

Several issues are discussed. One issue is sorting PLA containing material out of the main stream of a commercial sorting plant si that it ends-up in a proper composting plant. Tests have been organized by KNOTEN WEIMAR and results give the magnitude of the issue that led Coca Cola to withdraw their first gen PLA based plant bottle from the UK .

Another is recycling of post -consumer PLA waste which is presented by Despriet gebroeders ( The Netherlands). Waste is collected mostly from sport events and music festivals. after grinding and washing, PLA is re-extruded into pellets . If tainted by printing on the cups, PLA is pigmented and used as input material to 3D printing.

The European compost network ( ECN) is a European umbrella organisation members of which are the various national composters of biowaste from the members states and some technical advisors. These members together produce 30 million tons of quality certified compost. Food waste is the next field to be addressed once separate collection of food waste.

Novamont deliver the message after experiencing it in the North of Italy: organic -waste management ( food and green waste) is facilitated by using compostable bags that can be directly fed into the digestor. Non compostable plastics and post consumer food packaging waste are increasingly problematic and adverse to efficiency in a waste management scheme. Compostable plastic for both food packaging and organic waste collection is a win win solution.

Which are /should be the key policy measures that will facilitate recycling and composting? Separate waste collection throughout the EU would be a major step forward and enabler. Moving the recycled materials through boundaries without difficulties is another key measure. Secondary materials should not be treated as waste but as reclassified materials.

14. Launch of the EN 16785-1 certification scheme by Harmen Willemse, chairman of the certification board at the Netherland Standardization Institute.

A year ago, the need for a certification body was emphasised and after 12 months , the first two certificates of 100% bio-based products have been prepared and handed out to the representatives of Corbion and Kraton during the session and were cheered with a round of applauses.

The certification aims to be a key differentiator in the bio-based product market. The certification system is based on the European standard EN 16785-1 which enables independent assessment of claims on the bio-based content of products.

Corbion is the global market leader in lactic acid, lactic acid derivatives and lactides. It offers high performance PLA (Poly Lactic Acid) resins for general purpose and high performance bioplastics. Kraton is the world’s leading biorefiner of pine chemicals. It provides natural pine-based materials, including adhesives, roads and construction, tires and rubber, lubricants, fuel additives, and mining, by refining and upgrading crude tall oil (CTO) and crude sulphate turpentine (CST).

Both companies took part in the pilot projects to validate the European system for bio-based content certification. DIN CERTCO and Vinçotte were the two certification bodies involved in the pilot projects.

15. Global BioPlastics Awards of this number 11th edition of European conference are presented by Michael Thielen, founder and CEO of the Bioplastics magazine.

The winner amongst the five finalists presented is the team Rodenburg and Taghleef industries which presented the outsatnding example of research meeting stringent customer requirements and eco conception together. The result is a glossy printable starch based film for the famous Mars bar, moving it out of the legacy polypropylene packaging.

Netherlands-based Rodenburg developed a special grade of its Solanyl* recipe consisting of waste starch from the potato processing industry and recycled PLA (production waste from sheet extrusion). Film extrusion group Taghleef Industries, which is Mars’ packaging converter, manufactured the film on a BOPP line, while Mondi printed the packaging. The packaging was temporarily introduced in test markets in the Netherlands, France and Germany during 2015.

Detailed Report on day 2

16. Update on the bioplastics market by Kristy-Barbara Lange, Deputy Managing Director European Bioplastics

Capacities continue to increase despite low oil price and investment delays .2016 capacity estimated at 4.16 million tons growing to 6.11 million tons in 2012 . Bio-based/ non-biodegradable (PU,PET,PE,PA,PEF) by decreasing order of importance) still amount for 77% of the 2016 capacity. Bio-based/biodegradable polymers (Starch blends, PLA, PBS, PBAT, PHA by decreasing order of importance) amount to 23% of In 2021, the balance is forecasted to be 80-20, with bio-based PET being the major growth driver.

Packaging continues to represent the lion share with 39% in 2016 increasing to 42%in 2012 and consumer goods maintain their number two position around 21%.

A Bioplastics facts and figures leaflet was made available to the participants of the conference.

17. Keynote presentation on by Rob Opsomer New Plastics Economy Lead at the Ellen Mc Arthur fondation

Early 2016 the Elle Mc Arthur foundation published their report and presented it at the WEF forum in Davos. It attracted a lot of attention from opinion leaders and media around the world . Plastic is “an archetype of the linear economy”. This is emphasised by the finding that 1/3 of plastic packaging produced leaks to the environment. The three challenges presented are: after use economy, leakage, and decoupling from fossil ressources.

The foundation founded the New Plastic Economy initiative with the following objectives:

  • to establish a dialogue mechanism on the topic,
  • to issue a global plastic protocol for plastic collection in order to drive a degree of convergence towards best practices
  • to foster innovation moonshots
  • to encourage stakeholders’ engagement

In January 2017 , a new eport will be presented at Davos in order to maintain the momentum and get the ball rolling. There are signs of planet alignment rendering potentially possible what was quoted as impossible some years ago, including for the development of new bioplastics molecules.

18. Panel discussion on the future of the new platics economy

Herebelow are the key lines on which panelists agreed.

Industrially compostable plastic is primarily a tool to enable organic waste collection including some single use primary packaging of organic food like, but not limited to, coffee capsules. All other plastics should be preferably recycled as a preferred route . There is not really a trade-off between the two options. And the main field for action is to increase the percentage of plastic actually recycled ( from the tiny 5 % of today) from what is collected ( 40% on avg in countries will a collection system). Biodegradabilty is a tricky concept to communicate. It can be confusing and trigger the wrong attitude by the end-user. There is a huge education process to be put into place . However the panellists pretty much lack actionable ideas to organize this process. Everybody agree there are too many labels that do not communicate on what they are here for. All panellists agree we should reduce plastic use including bioplastic ( which is probably not what the audience of the European bioplastics conference would have liked to hear).

Leakage to the oceans has received a lot of attention in 2016. Panellist doubt there would ever be a type of plastic that would be able to degradate rapidly when in contact with salty water. They tend to agree we should stop the leakage via efficients waste collection systems deployed everywhere and consumer education. However Steve Davis, director of public affairs at NatureWorks inist that we let space for new bioplastics ( as opposed to drop-in bio-sourced plastics) to be developed and potentially bring innovative responsible solutions and new functionalities. (e.g PEF and EPLA). New building blocks are also emphasized as having potential to bring innovative responsible solutions.

Points of disagreement are rather on the scope of the new plastic initiative: should it adress primarily GES emission or should it encompass for example biodiversity, land use, biomass utilization as well, knowing that there is trade-off between scope and efficiency/ speed (as we can see from what happens at the European Commission level.)

The panel very much focused on packaging as it constitutes the core subject of the New Plastics Economy initiative lauched by the Ellen Mc Arthur foundation. Panellists agreed bioplastics and the biodegradability function are susceptible to bring solutions to the use of film for agriculture ( e.g. mulch film) and fillers for tyres ( as a replacement of carbon black / see point 11 above) , both having a very high leaking rate into the environment.

19. EU market oulook by Ylwa Alwasdotter Executive VO SEKAB biofuels and chemicals.

Company specialised on forest biomass refining and operating a demo plant in Sweden to extract cellulosic sugars and lignin within the scope of the project ” Locally Grown Plastics”, a collaborative effort of Swedish and Norwegian companies to develop and evaluate the entire value chain from forest residues to consumer products.

VO SEKAB primarily focuses on producing ethanol from cellulosic sugar and ethylene down the value chain, and biogaz as a by-product. They did not go to the polymerisation stage. Lignin is not valorized into chemicals but pellets for energy. Not mentionned is whether the extracted lignin is functional enough to be used for another purpose than energy. Sekab is working in partnership with UPM Kymmene in the Valchem project to make polypropylene glycol, as well as with Avantium on FDCA. They are convinced that partnering down the value chain is the only way to speed-up and de-risk industrialization.

Sweden has 120 million m3 growth of sustainable forest biomass ans does not use all of it.

20. Update on the French legislation on bio-based and homencompostable bags by Jean-Marc Nony Sustainable development Director at Sphere group and VP of the Club Bioplastiques

The purpose of Club Bioplastiques is to promote the use of compostable bags for single use plastic bags . Mr Nony updates on the French Law published in August 2015 . The first category of bags, check-out single use plastic bags < 50 microns are banned as of July 2016. The second category, single use plastic bags used as primary packaging and carrier, for e.g. Fruit and veg sold unpacked , are banned as of January 2017 unless they are bio-based (minimum 30% content as for Jan 2017, gradually increasing to 60% as of 2025) and certified compostable as per French norm NF T51-800 or a strictly equivalent norm.

The implementation phase has started and the impact on the market is visible. Oraganized Retail plays the game . There is still room for improvement at individual stores. Consumer adapt themselves and bring their multiple use plastic bags with them when they go shopping.

Starch based fruit and veg bags bio-plastics are being introduced. They will replace PE bags mainly imported from Asia today. This is why they are expected to create or save 2000 or jobs in Europe at companies like Sphere and Novamont, specialized in single use compostable bags for organic waste. Investment have been made by resin producers and converters to be able to meet the surge of demand happening now in advance of the implementation due date.

Food on the go ustensils will follow through by 2020. They will have also to be compostable by that date, made of plastic or not, up to the manufacturers and developments by then.

21. Creation of better conditions for compostable products in The Netherlans by Erwin Vink, Chairman of Holland Bioplastics

The adverse position of composters and their VA association has hindered wide use of compostable plastics in Holland. Holland Bioplastics and VA have agreed a list of covenants to adress the hurdles without compromising the quality of the compost. These covenants are reportedly close to being approved on both sides, waiting for the results of a few studies of impact.

On another side, The dutch government issued VANG rules for residual household waste, with the objectives to reduce volume and route a larger proportion of it to the green bin for compostable, for which they see compostable plastic as an enabler. Amstedam is the pilot city for the enhanced organic waste collection scheme.

EN13412 certified compostable packaging are accepted in the green bin, including food packaging but excluding packaging of non organic content e.g shampoo bottles that are currently in the recycling loop and should stay there.

Communication to consumers via harmonized logos are being put into place in agreement with the Dutch Packaging waste fund which collects the tax on packaging to fund waste collection and treatment. The Tax differential between bio-based compostable packaging and non compostable fossil plastic amounts to 0.62€ per kg which act as an incentive to the use of the first category.

22. Bioplastics at the turning point to consumer communication by Julia-Maria Blesin IfBB Hochschule Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Eva Knüpffer Frauenhofer Institute.

Their studies highlighted a lack of awareness of bioplastics by participants in focus groups (24) in Germany. On another hand, these participants showed high expectations which reality is unable to fulfil. After input of information about the status quo, they express concerns about competition with food and disappointment with the limiting compostability conditions of bioplastics. Inconsistent wording, lack of hard data, suspicion of greenwashing by suppliers tends to increase the intensity of those doubts. It is therefore paramount to establish realistic expectations and acceptability through proper simple factual communication on added benefits. Ref for more details on the results of the study: BINA project>bina>index.php

Frauenhofer took care of the sustainability part of the BINA project, namely LCA and socio-economic assessment, including critical success factors related to raw materials and products issues, whilst Hannover University was focusing on the consumer/end-user perception as reported above.

23.Bio-based TPE and PP compounds by Patrick Zimmermann, Director Global Marketing & Sales FKuR Kunststoff GmbH

FKuR has been in the market of compounding and formulating solutions for 25 years and has a very comprehensive portfolio of bioplastics that they either simply distribute or compound.Their difference is their ability to engineer customized solutions to match the specific requirements of their clients and help them market their innovative value proposition.

They are more recently focusing on partially biobased PP compounds because of the pull effect they experience from their customer base. PP has many intrinsic advantages, density being high on the list, that it is a good working base. Automotive manufactures show a high interest for these developments. The range is branded Terralene*.

Another development area is partly bio-based TPE compounds addressing the same market segment of automotive. The range is branded Terraprene* and is being deployed . Coumpounds are in the price range of biopolymers i.e. 2.4-2.8 € per kg for Terralene versus 1.3-1.5€ per kg for PP. It, of course, requires a specific market strategy to emphasize the value proposition .

24. Innovation in the Ecovio range by Martin Bussmann Team leader bio-degradable packaging BASF

There are three key segments for Ecovio: mulch fim, shopping and organic waste bags and packaging, the latter being the direct responsibility of the speaker.
Paper and cardboard coating is part of the novel packaging solution portfolio to produce compostable coated paper cups.

Another one is expandable Ecovio EA* particle foam for rigid packaging. BASF, one of the finalists of the Global Bioplastic Award, were exhibiting on a booth at the conference their latest product from the Ecovio range: a PLA foam blend made of Ecoflex and a processing aid, enabling to produce fully compostable EPLA trays and containers for food or non food applications, as a replacement of EPS when compostability is required. The extrusion line throughput decay is reportedly limited to 15% versus the 30% experienced by converters with plain PLA, which hindered the massive use of PLA for foam trays and containers .

The pellets of Ecovio EA* are currently sold with a kraft paper like brown color which reportedly flag-out the compostable and bio-sourced character of the container in non food applications like electronics and medical devices which traditionally look grossly over-packaged. White food contact grade will also be available beginning of 2017 for meat protein food trays.

25. Improving polyurethane synthetic leather by Peter von den Kerkhoff Dupnt Tate and Lyle Bio Products.

For the past ten years, Dupont Tate and Lyle BioProducts division has been manufacturing 1.3 propanediol by fermentation of industrial corn glucose under the roof of a JV employing a total of 80 people. Sold under the Sorona*, Zemea* and Susterra* brands, this 1.3 propanediol is a building block that delivers performance solutions for fiber, cosmetics and amongst other applications, for the manufacturing of synthetic leather . 1.3 propanediol contributes to a reported reduction by 52% of GES emission.

Artificial leather is either manufactures using a wet process or a dry process. The latter is more environmently friendly ( less water, no DMF) . The Susterra Propanediol is perfectly fit for use for making bio-based PU synthetic leather using a dry process. Dupont Tate and Lyle do not produce/ sell themselves Polytrimethylene ether glycol (PO3G) but have licensed Allessa, a German company part of the Weylchem group, to manufacture it at an industrial scale.

26. Fossil chemicals are history by Ortwin Ertl President Annikki GmbH.

Anniki is an Austrian biotechnology company using agricultural residues (e.g. Straw at 80€ per ton) and turn them into biobased chemicals via mild enzymatic processes using non destructive conditions.

Market addressed: PEF, Xylitols as next generation sweeteners,

The process portfolio of Annikki consists of proprietary biomass fractionation ( Scandinavia and Germany) Redox Catalysis and Fructose to FDCA.

The patented fractionation process uses an ethanol-alkali to separate lignin first,  and  to make possible downstream the enzymatic conversion of hemicellulose into pure Xylan and Xylitols at a very competitive cost.

This competitive edge is reportedly linked to very important energy savings and a 95% process yield. From one ton of straw Annikki report they can sell 1,400€ of commercial biobased products (xylitol+cellulose and lignin). Although the functionality of lignin has not been part of the results presented, it is an obvious part of the sales value along with cellulose and xylitol.

Annikki is privately owned and all its developments to date have been privately funded.

27. Benefits of PLA for specific applications bu Hugo Vuurens senior business director Bioplastics EMEA Corbion

Corbion is the largest producer os lactic acid globally and has an history of 80 years. 3/4 of sales are in food infredients and bioplastics so far represent 2% of its turnover. They recently announced a JV with Total from France to manufacture and sell a full range of PLA and PDLA products out of a commercial plant being built in Rayong Thailand. The 75,000 ton plant should be operational during the second half of 2018.

Stengths and weaknesses of PLA are evidenced in the following applications:

  • Coffee capsules using crystallized PLA withstanding temp up to 110° (Plantura by La Coppa) and microwaveable ready-meals.
  • Yogurt pots with the specific requirement of snappability for pot separation and machinability in line with legacy PS (Activia by Danone)
  • Foamed PLA ice cream insulation box and insulating walls (Synbra)
  • Outdoor applications like rain pipes in substitution of PVC
  • Root trainers for rubber trees in Thailand with a 10% improvement of tree survival thanks to the degradation of the trainer in the soil, allowing the roots to get through smoothly. It is reportedly a 30,000 tons market annually in Thailand only.

Closing remarks by Chairman François de Bie.

The role of the circular economy is more widely recognized along with the role bioplastics can play in the transition  to it. Governments and legislation in Europe are still moderately supporting the momentum. However’ NEW bio-polymers are expected to grow steadily.

The land use issue is still very present in the debate over bioplastics. Progress have been made to clarify the certification of bio-based content. USDA labelling of bio-based products is proven very efficient in the US and is very much expected in Europe where end-user confusion over multiple labelling persists


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