Friday 31 August 2012

ADB, P&G explore building 'waste-to-energy' plant

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G) are teaming up to explore the feasibility of building “waste-to-worth” energy plants in the Philippines that will generate up to two megawatts of power using solid waste collected from homes and businesses.
“The disposal of municipal solid waste is a serious environmental and social challenge,” said Jose Manuel Limjap, Investment Specialist at ADB. “This is the kind of innovative project that brings the public and private sectors together to tackle a problem seen throughout the developing world. Successfully piloting an integrated solid waste management system means it could be replicated in other parts of the world.”
Around 6,700 tons of solid waste is generated every day in metro Manila alone, but only 720 tons are recycled or composted. The balance is hauled to the city’s dump sites,

Wednesday 29 August 2012

Novamont: From Mater-Bi Bags to Biorefineries

Stefano Facco, New Business Development Director, Novamont SpA (Italy) observed that the Italian population has proved willing to support action to protect the environment.  80% approved the ban on PE shopping bags and 67% would strongly disagree with any attempt to switch back.  100% of students were in favour of the ban.  80% of those surveyed understood that the new bags were made from plants and broke down quickly in the environment.  25% recognised the Novamont  “Mater-Bi” brand: excellent recognition for a B2B trade name. 
The future for bioplastics was therefore very positive, Mr Facco quoting a 2009 EPNOE/EBP report indicating a 2 million tonne potential being “immediately available” if sufficient products could be produced.  36% of the market was in shopping bags, 21% in produce bags, 15% in extrusion coating, 9% in films for food packs, 9% in cutlery, and 8% in agricultural uses.  Currently the production was below a million tonnes but this was expected to triple by 2020.

Thailand: Future Bioplastics Hub

Dr. Wantanee Chongkum, Director of Innovation Culture Promotion Department, Thailand's National Innovation Agency said Thailand wanted to be the Asian leader in bioplastics.  Biomass was abundantly available at competitive prices and the government strongly supported new developments.  In 2008 its Board of Investment started attracting strategic investments by allowing exemption from corporation tax for up to 8 years for the production of eco-friendly monomers and polymers and the packaging made from them.  They see Thailand as a future “Bioplastics Hub”.

Sugar Cane and Cassava are key crops with almost 16 million tonnes and 5 million tonnes/year (respectively) being produced in 2011.  Starch can be made from cassava at about half the price of corn-starch, and 4 kilos of PLA can be made from 1 hectare of cassava crop compared with 3 kilos PLA from 1 hectare of corn.  However 6 tonnes of PLA arise from 1 hectare of sugar cane or beet.

So far, only Purac produce lactides in Thailand but 2 new plants to make PLA, PHA and PBS are expected to come on stream in the next 3 years.
Thailand’s Bioplastics Industry Association consists of 50 companies ranging from agri-products companies to major international chemical companies, and TBIA has now signed memoranda of understanding with the European, Japanese, and Korean bioplastics associations to develop certification and identification programs for bioplastics.

(from a paper given at the Biopolymer World Conference, Venice, April 2012)

Friday 24 August 2012

Organic Waste Systems for Biodegradation and Composting Tests

Bruno De Wilde, Laboratory Manager, Organic Waste Systems (Belgium) described OWS as a completely independent  one-stop laboratory for biodegradability and compostability testing with 20 years experience and a track record of 2000+ tests for over 500 clients.  It is active with CEN, ASTM and ISO in developing standards and is recognised by all certification bureaus. 

With regard to compostable packs, these are not allowed in Germany, have very limited applications in most of Spain and France but are well established in the UK, Holland, Italy and Catalonia.  Blends of polymers, multi-layered structures, inks, additives, and families of products with differing compostablility all present challenges to anyone trying to get a pack certified. Differences between testing standards doesn’t help,

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Lenzing Group: Good Half-Year Results in a Difficult Market Environment

The Lenzing Group performed very well in the first half of 2012 against the backdrop of a difficult market environment. The ambitious business targets were fully achieved. However, as expected, the record levels generated in the first half of 2011 were not reached again. Due to the changed market expectation the guidance for the full year 2012 has been adapted.
Consolidated sales at EUR 1,061.8 mn in the first half of 2012 remained stable for the most part (H1 2011: EUR 1,076.2 mn, a drop of 1.3%). In spite of lower average fiber selling prices, Lenzing succeeded in maintaining a constant level of sales due to the increased fiber shipment volumes made possible by the recent capacity expansion measures.

Sunday 19 August 2012

Italian Composting of Biopolymers: Organics Recovery

Massimo Centemero, Technical Director, Italian Composting Council (CIC) saw composting as the natural end-of-life option for bioplastics in Italy where 4 million tonnes of organic waste are already composted or anaerobically digested to make 1.2 million tonnes of quality-assured compost annually (2009).  Of the 4 million tonnes, 43% is kitchen waste, 36% is garden waste and 12% is sewage sludge.  80% of the organics are separated at source and since 2010 the kitchen waste must by law be collected in compostable bags made to EU 13432:2000 standards. 

Unfortunately the feed to composting between 2009 and 2011 was, averaged over 50 provinces, contaminated with 5.4% of non-compostables, 75% of which was non-compostable plastic and 20% was disposable diapers.  Interestingly while non-compostable plastic bags accounted for 30% of the total, it was found that the waste in these bags contained 5x as much non-compostable material as the waste in compostable bags.

(from a paper given at the Biopolymer World Conference, Venice, April 2012)

Biodegradable Packaging in Poland

Greg Ganczewski, Packaging and Environmental Department, Polish Packaging Research & Development Center said there were many composting and anaerobic digestion (“biomethanisation”) systems in Poland and biowaste was separated at source.  A survey of packaging producers/users showed that only 11% used compostable packaging but 56% planned to start using it.  Roughly 50% said they’d use it if it cost no more than traditional plastics, 30% would be willing to pay more, and 20% would only switch if it was cheaper.  

A survey of consumers showed 80% of Poles produce compost in their back yard and 48% separate out the organics from their waste for composting. Of the environmentally friendly words used on packaging, “Biodegradable” was thought most important, “Multi-use” next, followed by “Recyclable”, and  “Made from natural/renewable resources”.  “Degradable” came last and was rated the least clear descriptor.

Examples of biodegradable packaging now in use in Poland were given:

Friday 17 August 2012

BASF, Cargill and Novozymes target commercial bio-based acrylic acid process

     LUDWIGSHAFEN, GERMANY- MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - COPENHAGEN, DENMARK, - August 17, 2012 - BASF, Cargill and Novozymes have signed an agreement to develop technologies to produce acrylic acid from renewable raw materials.

    Presently, acrylic acid is produced by the oxidation of propylene derived from the refining of crude oil. BASF – The Chemical Company, Cargill and industrial biotechnology company Novozymes will develop bio-based technologies to produce acrylic acid from renewable feedstocks.

    “The cooperation combines BASF’s global market strength and innovation power with the excellent know-how and competencies of Novozymes and Cargill who are global leaders in their respective industry segments. Together we are uniquely positioned to more sustainably meet market and society needs”, said Michael Heinz, Member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE.

    New milestone towards commercialization
    Novozymes and Cargill have collaborated on renewable acrylic acid technology since 2008. Both companies have worked to develop microorganisms that can efficiently convert renewable feedstock into 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP), which is one possible chemical precursor to acrylic acid. BASF has now joined the collaboration to develop the process for conversion of 3-HP into acrylic acid. BASF is the world´s largest producer of acrylic acid and has substantial capabilities in its production and downstream processing. The company plans initially to use the bio-based acrylic acid to manufacture superabsorbent polymers.

    Thursday 16 August 2012

    Lenzing Fibers in the Garden Composter with a Clear Conscience

    The most environmentally compatible waste material is one which never arises in the first place. However, waste cannot be completely avoided. For this reason, waste management (i.e. recycling and the proper and professional disposal of waste) is a key issue. Composting comprises one possibility to decompose readily usable organic material and to deploy compost material to improve the properties of the soil in the garden and for agricultural purposes.

    Increasing environmental awareness along the supply chain leads to the desire for greater transparency. Eco-labels, certificates and awards give the consumer more security in defining and selecting high-quality environmentally-friendly and biologically degradable products.  For the Lenzing Group, the world market leader for man-made cellulose fibers, environmental certifications comprise a notable factor for its business success as they provide proof of high
    environmental standards that are practiced and lived.

    WRAP Recycling of Bioplastic Packaging

    Marcel Arsand, Project Manager, Waste & Resources Action Programme (UK) helps businesses, local authorities and communities reduce waste and develop sustainable products.  It was set up by the UK government in 2000 to divert materials from landfill and minimise the use of primary resources in products and buildings by collecting waste for recycling, establishing recycling processes and enterprises, and building the demand for recycled polymers.
    In 2010 the UK discarded 2.5 million tonnes of plastic packaging and only 0.6 million tonnes of this were recycled. 0.28 million tonnes of this waste were plastic bottles, giving a bottle recovery rate of 48%.  Further improvements are sought and moves to collect and recycle non-bottle plastics are now underway.  Grants are available for non-bottle plastic reprocessing plants, and the recycling of PP into food-grade material is targeted.  New methods for film collection and reprocessing are being developed (e.g supermarket collection points)

    Wednesday 15 August 2012

    Biopolymer Modification by Fraunhofer

    Verena Jost, Department of Materials Development, Fraunhofer Institute, Process Engineering & Packaging (Germany) considered the special needs of sustainable packaging for food: an application where the protection and safety of the product are paramount.  Any change which has even a minor negative effect on the usable life of the food will cancel out a large benefit in sustainability of the pack. 

    Coating PP and PET films with a biopolymer barrier has given insufficient adhesion unless corona treatment can be used.  Even then the biofilm tends to be more brittle and easily cracked than the traditional coat. So additives have to be added to the biopolymer to increase flexibility; Glycerol, Sorbitol, PEG 200 and Propylene glycol have been found effective. Cast films of whey protein, corn starch and dextrin  plus 25-40% of these plasticisers have higher water vapour and oxygen permeability, lower tensile strength and higher elongation than the controls.  Uses of the plasticised biopolymers as coatings to improve the barrier properties of food wrapping paper are being developed.

    (from a paper given at the Biopolymer World Conference, Venice, April 2012)

    Tuesday 14 August 2012

    Freudenberg Nonwovens invests in adsorptives segment

    New lamination unit for the Littleborough plant (UK)

    Ostomy applications with activated carbon

    Weinheim, Littleborough, August 14, 2012. Freudenberg Nonwovens is expanding its adsorptives business segment by investing in new equipment. Four years after the opening of the plant, the company is sending out a clear signal for the expansion of its business in this segment in the United Kingdom.
    Materials from Freudenberg Nonwoven set global standards in the adsorptives segment. The company has three production plants in the UK. Littleborough is the most recently established, with about 30 associates. Facilities at the plant cover all stages in the production of activated carbon materials and filters: coating, laminating conversion and finishing. These adsorptive materials have many applications for odour control including medical and ostomy products. "Ostomy products considerably enhance the quality of life of stoma patients," explains Dr. Heneric, responsible for the activated carbon filter business segment.

    Saturday 11 August 2012

    GMO-free PLA Bio-Polymers with Bio-Efficiency by Purac

         Francois de Bie, Global Marketing Director, Purac (Holland) pointed out that selecting the right feedstock for biopolymers was the key to success.  PLA from sugar cane, beet or corn is most bio-efficient because these crops yield more per hectare  and sugar converts most efficiently to PLA.

    • ·   1.6kg sugar yield 1 kg of PLA via lactic acid and lactides. (e.g. Purac     and Natureworks)
    • ·   It takes 4kgs of sugar to make a kilo of polyethylene via ethanol (e.g Braskem)
    • ·   Bio MEG and bio PTA can be used to make polyester and while not commercial yet, this would need over 5kgs of sugar per kilo of polymer.
    • ·   Estimates for PP from sugar via ethanol were not available.
    • ·   Purac guarantee PLA polymers free of GMOs.

    Wednesday 8 August 2012

    Sugarcane Based Polyolefins used by P&G, Coca Cola, J&J

    Rodrigo Belloli, Marketing and Market Intelligence, Renewable Chemicals, Braskem S.A.(Brazil) said Brazil has the same land area as the USA but much more arable land (400million Hectares cf 270 million Ha in the USA).  80% of its electricity generation is renewable (76% hydroelectric) and 46% of its total energy requirement comes from renewables compared with an average of 13% for developed countries.

    Braskem is the world’s leading supplier of biopolymers with 200,000 tonnes of bio-PE now on stream.  This arises from 65,000 hectares of sugar cane production via the production of 460 million litres of ethanol.  (2400 litres of ethanol can be converted into a tonne of ethylene and hence a tonne of PE.)  Using the sugar cane route, 9.3 tonnes of ethanol can be made from an input of a tonne of fossil fuel compared with the US corn based process which only makes 1.4 tonnes ethanol per tonne fossil fuel.  Braskem’s Green PE has a cradle to polymer-factory gate carbon footprint of -2.5 tonnes compared with +2.1 tonnes for petrochemical PE.  Green PP will be -2.3 c.f. +2.0 for petro-PP and this project is now at the engineering stage, completion expected at end-2013.

    Numerous examples of uses for Green PE included Coca Cola’s juice bottles, Danone yogurt pots, P&G’s Pantene bottles, Yuhan Kimberly “Huggies” diapers and J&J’s Sundown bottles.

    (from a paper given at the Biopolymer World Conference, Venice, April 2012)

    Tuesday 7 August 2012

    Non-Biodegradable Supermarket Carrier Bags Banned in Italy

    Senatore Francesco Ferrante XIII, of the Esecutivo Nazionale Associazione Ecologisti Democratici (Italy) was instrumental in getting non-biodgradable shopping bags banned in Italy and explained the political background.
    ·         The ban was in an amendment to the 2007 budget legislation passed in December 2006.
    ·         This amendment called for a national programme to reduce the use of shopping bags which are not biodegradable according to EU Directives.
    ·         While in 2006 most Italian centre-right politicians were against environmentally friendly politics, the fact that Novamont’s “Mater-Bi” was available to substitute for polyethylene helped convince the government to support the proposal.

    Saturday 4 August 2012

    Sustainable Biomaterials Collaborative IATP

    Jim Kleinschmidt, Director, Rural Communities ProgramIATP (USA) explained that the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy worked at the intersection of policy and practice to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trading systems for all.  Their Sustainable Biomaterials Collaborative promoted cradle-cradle thinking in developing sustainability guidelines by engaging markets and policy makers.

    In the USA, corn is the primary source of biopolymers. A bushel (~60lbs) of corn can be used to make 32lbs of starch or sweeteners, or 2.8 gallons of ethanol, or 22.4 lbs of PLA.  In 2010-11, 40% of US corn went into ethanol (39% fuel + 1% beverage alcohol), 39% into animal feed, 14% was exported, and the rest went into food products and seed.