Africa Joint Venture & Partnerships Production Capacity

Benin Will Start Producing Bioplastics

The Benin (West Africa)-based blown film manufacturer, Asahel Benin Sarl recently announced that it will produce sustainable, bio-based plastic films in the future.

Asahel Benin will achieve this with help from Stuttgart, Germany headquartered Coperion GmbH, which will be delivering a complete compounding system and sharing the corresponding process engineering expertise.

The system includes a ZSK 26 Mc18twin screw extruder, four highly accurate feeders from Coperion K-Tron and a water bath, an air wipe and a strand pelletizer from Coperion Pelletizing Technology.

Before plastic bags and packaging were banned in Benin around mid 2018 (Importation, production, sale, and possession of petroleum-based plastic bags and packaging has been forbidden in Benin), Asahel Benin used to make its plastic films by using polyethylene (PE) as well as recyclate to manufacture its films that were then used predominantly in household products and in shopping bags for supermarkets.

The new law in the West African country forced the company to completely convert its production. Following a successful test and training phase at Coperion’s test lab located in Stuttgart, Asahel Benin will produce biodegradable compounds in its home country with the aid of the ZSK twin screw extruder. It will then further process these on its existing blown film machinery into biodegradable bags and packaging materials.

Throughout the entire project, Asahel Benin could fall back on Coperion’s comprehensive process engineering expertise for both the mastery of entire system’s complexity and seamless interaction of its components, specifically relating to the twin-screw extruder’s configuration. It is significant to understand that formulations with starch content represent a particular challenge for configuring the twin screws as the melting zone in the extrusion process must both melt biodegradable polymers and plastify the non-meltable starch while adding the liquid.

David Romaric Tinkou, Development Leader of Asahel Benin has received comprehensive training on the operations of the compounding machine to start developing a formulation for the necessary biopolymer. Expressing his satisfaction on the entire project, David says, “It was quite clear that we needed a new business strategy to keep operating our blown film plants here in Benin. I am very happy that with Coperion as I encountered experienced experts in the field of biodegradable compounds.” Coperion delivered not only the necessary technology, but also shared the necessary process engineering expertise with me so that we can manufacture biodegradable compounds ourselves in Benin, adds David.

Showing his excitement on supporting Asahel Benin in switching over its production in order to accomplish it more sustainably, Peter von Hoffmann, General Manager Business Unit Engineering Plastics & Special Applications at Coperion, explains: “Biodegradable compounds from renewable raw materials unite high production-technical demand with environmental sustainability.” Particularly for manufacturers of short-lived household, industrial and agricultural products, these compounds represent a long-term, sustainable alternative to petroleum-based raw materials such as PE, Peter further stresses. Typical areas of application include single-use flatware, trash bags and trashcan liners, food packaging, shopping bags, drinking straws and agricultural films, he informs.

Coperion’s materials handling and service division is optimally networked on a global basis to offer ultimate support in designing, manufacturing and implementation of ideal systems. With its team of engineers, chemists, technicians and other industry experts, these divisions form a powerhouse of process solutions for its customers. Beyond large-scale applications, close collaboration with customers, Coperion is known for continuous development of systems and components.

From individual rotary valves to complete product lines for compounders and extruders and clever product developments for food and pharma industries, Coperion and Coperion K-Tron work closely with its customers to deliver what they need for their processes. The company’s portfolio also includes extensive worldwide service and support encompassing maintenance, spare parts, consulting and training, resulting in customers having access to an even greater global network designed to take their processes to the next level. Coperion is presently located in 17 countries across the globe.

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Published on plasticsinsight.com