Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Biopolymers from waste and Compostable Packaging

More from AIMPLAS 2014 - Valencia..

Mercedes Villa-Carvajal, a biotechnology researcher at the Ainia Technology Centre (Spain) described the use of waste liquor from the orange juice processing industry to produce poly-hydroxybutyrate for bottle production.  The PHB was compounded with cellulose fibres and fillers and injection moulded to make the bottles. (“Phbottle”)

Pretreatments prepared the raw material to receive an inoculation of microorganisms.  Bioprocessing involved fermentation and separation of the required monomer.  Post treatment involved polymerisation.

In principle, any carbon source (e.g. food waste) could be pretreated to receive any one of a range of microorganisms, patented or unpatented, GMO or not, provided with oxygen, and fermentation would result.

Jordi Simon and Matthias Klausmann of BASF (Germany) used the term BioCom to refer to their compostable polymer recommended for use where organic matter is left behind after the food has been taken out of the packaging.  BioCom in fact appeared to be being used as a term of the biodegradable and compostable properties of their Ecoflex® polymers which could be made either from petro- or bio-based sources as required. Ecovio® is their blend of Ecoflex® and PLA.

Ecovio® is finding applications as an agricultural mulch film and as a bag for food waste intended for composting.  A new application was demonstrated at the conference, a 100% biodegradable coffee capsule designed to allow coffee and its carrier to be added to the compostable waste stream.  The capsules packaging was also a 3 layer compostable film.  The system had yet to be adopted by any of the major coffee capsule makers and appeared to be a unique design using a permeable tea-bag nonwoven top cover rather than air-tight foil.