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Bioplastics 101 workshop gives overview of suppliers

About fifty delegates attended an invitation-only workshop in Toronto on April 2, organized by the Ontario BioAuto ...


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April 7, 2008 by Canadian Plastics

About fifty delegates attended an invitation-only workshop in Toronto on April 2, organized by the Ontario BioAuto Council.

The aim the Bioplastics 101 workshop was to get executives at plastics processing companies thinking about the possibilities of bioplastics.

Craig Crawford, who became the Council’s CEO this January, told the gathering that bioplastics currently make up less than one per cent of worldwide annual plastics consumption. However, use of bioplastics is growing becauseof increasing prices for petroleum-based resins and continued advances in the performance of bioplastics. Crawford said bioplastics have the technical potential to take over 5-10 per cent of the plastics market. Worldwide capacity forbiopolymers was 350,000 tonnes/year in 2007. This is projected to grow to almost 800,000 tonnes/year in 2010.

Bioplastic suppliers who presented at the workshop were:

Advanced Micro-Polymers (AMP). This new Canadian company was established January 2007 in Milton, Ont., and makes biopolymers based on polysaccharides from locally grown crops. It makes four liquid grades with variousresistances to water absorption that is commercial in a number of industrial processes, including printing and coatings. Its product can also be supplied in a pellet form than can be extruded, blow molded or vacuumformed. Its polymers can also be extruded, blow molded or vacuum formed.

BASF – Manufactures Ecoflex copolyester based resin; Ecovio (blend of 45 per cent PLA, 55 per cent Ecoflex). BASF has two Ecoflex plants in Germany with combined capacity of 14,000 metric tonnes and plans to scale up to 50,000 metrictonnes by around 2010.

Dow Automotive – Renuva polyols made from seed oil, initially from soybeans. Dow claims that because of its process, its Renuva polyols areodor-free, unlike other polyols made from seed oils. It currently has 20 million lbs/yr available for market development.

E.I. du Pont Canada Company – Manufactures Sorona thermoplastic polymers, similar to PBT, using 20-37 per cent renewably sourced material, and offering a good combination of flex modulus and tensile strength. Glass-reinforced gradesare available. The company also manufactures Cerenol, bio-based polyols made from cornand other materials. DuPont has announced that it intends to double revenues from non-depleteable resources to $8-billion by 2015.

GreenCore Composites Inc. – A compounder of natural fiber-reinforced composites, using technology developed by Dr. Mohini Sain of the Universityof Toronto. Polypropylene and natural fibers being used now. They are working of using other fibers and biopolymers. They are focusing onstructural applications and are close to being commercial with an automotive customer. Greencore has a pilot plant in Mississauga, Ont., and is working to start up a plant four times larger in the third quarter of 2009.

Novamont – Manufactures Mater-Bi cornstarch-based polymers for plastic films and bags; Origo-Bi polyesters from vegetable oils (with technologypurchased from Eastman). Headquartered in Italy, they have opened a North American sales office in Ridgefield, Conn.

Telles, a joint venture of Metabolix and Archer Daniels Midland – Manufactures Mirel, an aliphatic polyester made using microbes that ferment corn byproducts directly into plastics. Grades are currently available for injection molding, cast film and paper coating, and are being developed for foam and thermoforming. Telles currently has a semi-works plant withcapacity of 30,000-50,000 lbs/month. A new plant, with capacity of 110 million lbs/yr is being constructed in Clinton, Iowa and is due to start up in the spring of 2009.

NatureWorks LLC, a major manufacturer of PLA resins based in Minnetonka, Minn., was invited to the workshop, but couldn’t send a speaker.

Papers presented at the BioPlastics 101 workshop are available on the Ontario BioAuto Council’s web site at www.bioautocouncil.com/resources/.

The Ontario BioAuto Council, headquartered in Guelph, Ont., was formed to foster the growth of bioplastics in Ontario through forging links between government, academia, agriculture, forestry, automotive and the plasticsindustry. It has a $5-million investment fund sponsored by the Ontario government and is seeking applications to support biomaterialscommercialization and market development.