Page 45 - Packaging News Magazine Jan-Feb 2019
P. 45

January-February 2019
from waste plastic residue, oils and fats by the Finnish feedstock sup- plier Neste, its first adopter is the Scandinavian ready-to-assemble furniture and home accessories manufacturer IKEA.
Neste is aiming to process in excess of 1m tonnes of waste plastic by 2030 and, according to head of product marketing emerging busi- nesses Lars Borger, is confident that where IKEA has led with bio-PP other leading brands will follow.
“Looking forward it’s scalable to hundreds of thousands of tonnes depending on the balance between demand and the availability of the feedstock. Theoretically, there’s no limit. While IKEA are currently only using it for their products, there’s no reason why bio-PP shouldn’t be extended to some appropriate pack- aging applications too.
“We have invested millions of Euros in getting to this point, but it’s been within realistic parameters.”
Another well-known global Scandinavian brand is also helping to ramp up interest in a sugar-cane derived alternative to conventional plastic. Producing over 70bn indi- vidual elements in sixty different colours each year, Lego has pledged to shift its entire production over to sustainable materials – mostly bio- PE (produced by Braskem) – by 2030. Although it has been careful to note that recycled fossil-based LDPE and HDPE is acceptable, it is no longer considered to be a long- term option.
Not all drop-ins are performing as well as bio-PP and PP, however. Intentions to increase production capacities for biobased PET (poly- ethylene terephthalate) have not been realised at the rate predicted in previous years, the focus having shifted instead to the development of PEF (polyethylene furanoate) led by the Synvina partnership between Avantium and BASF, and whose superior barrier and thermal prop- erties are felt to make it an ideal material for beverage bottles.
Very much the hot topic a year ago, a series of delays are likely to impact upon the previously scheduled date of 2021 for a projected 50,000 tonne
capacity pilot site to come on stream in Antwerp, and have been severe enough for BASF to consider with- drawing from the collaboration.
Despite the focus of interest in adopt- ing a circular economy model, com- postables are predicted to grow at a far faster rate than like for like drop- ins over the next five years – a 40 per cent uplift compared to around 11 percentforbio-PE/PP/PETetal– and to account for 60 per cent of an overall 2.61m tonnes market by 2023 (source: European Bioplastics). The reason is the steadily increasing acceptance of its viability as the opti- mum solution for single-use flexible packaging applications.
■ The global bioplastics market is predicted to grow by 25% over the next 5 years.
■ The newly developed bio-based PP is targeting a 1.4% market share by 2023.
■ Lego has pledged to shift its entire production of +70 billion individual units to bio materials.
With no provision for recovering and recycling food-contact film, com- posting – or rather ‘organic recycling’ as it is increasingly being positioned within the context of the focus upon circular economy principles – is the most practical solution. It’s also one that is being supported through guidelines and government-backed legislation in an expanding number of countries.
There is, however, still an educa- tion process to be gone through with regard to the length of time in which compostability is achieved, and the necessary conditions within which it takes place. According to Dr Miriam Weber, director of Hydra Marine Sciences, while decomposition can be completed within a matter of months on dry land it can take as long as five years for a biobased bag to dissolve in the North Atlantic. In the interim: “a turtle doesn’t care whether the straw is biodegradable or not; it still hurts just as much”, she comments.
This rather explains the notice- able reticence on the part of the bioplastics sector to get involved in the marine pollution debate.
Degradation times are shortening, however. According to Mark Shaw, NPD technical manager at the UK’s Parkside Flexibles, its multi-layer bio- PBS (polybutylene succinate) and cel- lulose stand-up pouch (SUP) although as yet uncertified, is capable of decomposing within 30 weeks in a marine environment. Meanwhile, its industrial and home composting timeframes are fully certified as 12 weeks and 26 weeks respectively.

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