Dr. Carsten Sinkel, Advanced Materials & Systems Research – Biopolymers, BASF, (Germany) described their development of sustainable packaging by combining paper with biodegradable polymers. Ecovio® FS Paper is coated with a biodegradable polymer made from 75% renewable. It has food contact approval in the EU and USA, is converted into cups for hot or cold drinks, wrappings, buckets or freezer boxes, and is compostable to EN13423 and ASTM 6400 standards.
Apart from the polymers character, rate of biodegradation depends on a complex interaction of abiotic factors such as temperature, humidity, pH, oxygen availability and nutrients as well as the availability of microorganisms and enzymes. The amorphous regions in semi-crystalline polymers degrade fastest and for polyester the polymer chain has to fold to fit the active site on the enzyme. Dr Sinkel thought anaerobic digestion, which he described as “cold incineration” the best disposal route because it yielded 890 kJ/mol of usable energy when the methane was burnt to CO2.
(from the Biopolymer World Conference, Venice, April 2012)