Hemp

Current Trends in Bioresin Manufacturing

Plastics are among the most versatile materials on the planet, but humanity's propensity to misuse single-use plastic items like straws and flatware has become an environmental threat. That's where bioresin comes in — slowly.

Hemp bioplastics

The biggest change to the bioresin manufacturing industry is the introduction, or reintroduction, of hemp bioplastics. Hemp grows exceedingly fast and contains 65-70% biomass – more than enough to convert into bioplastics. It also absorbs massive amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere during growth. Creating hemp plastics utilises a lot of the waste left over after the ‘cash crops’ (hemp hearts and CBD oil) are harvested.

Creating hemp plastics utilises a lot of the waste left over after the ‘cash crops’ are harvested.

Plastic from waste

A Swedish researcher has discovered a way to create bioplastics from fruit waste, either by turning the food waste into a liquid and allowing it to dry, or using it in a 3D printer to design containers. This is only the beginning of her research as her food-based plastics currently dissolve in water, but it is a step in the right direction. It addresses two problems: plastic waste and the fact that 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted or thrown away every year.

Making the shift

Companies have already started to make the shift toward plant-based plastics. In 2013, bioplastics accounted for less than one per cent of the global plastics market. By the end of this year, it’s expected to have a four per cent market share. By 2030, bioplastics will make up more than 40 per cent of the global plastics market.

Bioplastics are compatible with current injection moulding technologies, so there’s no need to redesign a factory floor – only change where source material comes from. A 600-psig rotary machine powered by an air compressor can make 20,000 bottles in an hour whether using traditional or bioresin-based plastics.

Medical biocompatibility

Bioresins aren’t just making waves in the plastic industry, they’re also showing up in the medical industry and especially in the creation of prosthetics.

Traditional prosthetic limbs are made from acrylic resins around a core of glass or carbon fibre, yet some companies — both within the medical industry and without — have begun using natural plant and animal fibres such as wool, silk, and flax, layered into a biocompatible polyurethane bioresin.

This bioresin can be used for everything from building homes to creating prosthetic limbs.

Future trends

As reported during the 13th annual European Bioplastics Conference in Berlin in December 2018, the bioplastics and bioresins industry expects to grow by 25 per cent over the next five years. Europe currently produces just 1/5 of the world’s bioplastics, although that is expected to grow to 27 per cent by 2023. Asia creates the majority of the world’s bioplastics.

This is one field that will continue to grow and thrive in the next decade. New trends, like hemp plastics, will continue to push the industry forward. Bioresins are expected to be worth more than $324bn (~€288bn) by 2030.

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This article was published on eppm.com and written by Megan Nichols