Two family-owned businesses - the Dutch potatostarch processor Rodenburg and the US-based global food corporation Mars as well as the innovative film producer Taghleef Industries (Ti) were chosen to win this year's Global Bioplastics Award for their encouraging development of a new film packaging for food products, namely candybars. The international jury found it an outstanding example of research to develop a complex packaging fulfi lling demanding requirements.
Calling it a very “cool product“ deserving of the recognition, and an awesome example of team spirit, Michael Thielen, Publisher of bioplastics MAGAZINE presented the 3D- printed trophy produced from wood-filled, brass-filled and copper-filled biobased specialty filaments provided by Venlo-based ColorFabb, to the winners.
In an acceptance speech that he kept brief and to the point, Thijs Rodenburg said that “We were surprised that we won.” In a single breath, he went on to say: “But I think what’s important is that a big brand stood up and used bioplastics. It’s perfect – and it’s a big step!”
The project covered the whole value-chain of packing material processing, ranging from the production of the bioplastic resin (waste starch based Solyanyl® C, Rodenburg) through extrusion and stretching of the plastic films (Ti) to the actual packaging of food products (Mars).
The development of a special Solanyl recipe consisting of waste starch from the potato processing industry and recycled PLA (sheet extrusion production waste) enabled the development of a packaging structure which has been found well performing in a Mars fi eld test. The packaging was temporarily introduced in test markets in the Netherlands, France and Germany during 2015. Before, however, a comprehensive launch more work needs to be done. Nevertheless, it already is an awsome example of team spirit and will to succeed.
Taghleef, Mars’ packaging converter, manufactured the film on a BOPP line, while Mondi printed the packaging; it took four production trials before an acceptable packaging fi lm was manufactured. The development which started in 2012 is a highlight of what can be achieved if the right partners team up to develop a demanding packaging: Chocolate is not one of the easiest products in terms of smell and taste preservation and sensitivity, this new starch-based packaging material fulfi ls requirements for barrier and protection.
“We have a compound that works, and is recyclable at production (fi lm extrusion) which helps reduce production waste and bring material cost down.” Thijs Rodenburg, CEO of Rodenburg Biopolymers stated. “The focus was on using a packaging material that is sustainable and uses 2nd generation feedstock,” he continued.
Not only does the material require about 30 % less energy to produce, it also has a carbon footprint that is over 35 % lower than that of traditional packaging materials (PP). “Biodegradability was a packaging side-effect for Mars”, Thijs continued, “who didn’t consider it highly important because the company was concerned consumers might not understand what it means.”
Rodenburg started with trading of plant-derived products for various industries in 1945. The company has been a family owned company since then, with currently the third generation joining the company. Taghleef Industries is one of the largest manufacturers of bi-axially oriented polypropylene (BoPP)- and cast polypropylene (CPP) fi lms in the world, headquartered in Dubai U.A.E.. Ti also supplies a new range of bio-based, compostable and biodegradable range of BoPLA (Bio-oriented PolyLactic Acid) packaging fi lms branded NATIVIA™. Mars started back 1911 and is a global manufacturer of confectionery, pet food, and other food products with US$33 billion in annual sales in 2015, it is amongst the largest companies in the US. Solanyl is mainly based on reclaimed side stream starch from potato processing industry grain, seed, root or fl our based resources. It does not compete with food or animal feedstock.
The prize was awarded to the winning companies on November 29th, 2016 during the 11th European Bioplastics Conference in Berlin, Germany
from left to right: Thijs Rodenburg, Emanuela Bardi (Taghleef), Michael Thielen (Photo: Karen Laird)
The five finalists 2016 were:
Far Eastern New Century (FENC) Corp. in Taiwan demonstrated the world first 100 % bio-polyester shirt made entirely from renewable raw materials after launching the world first 100 % bio-PET Coca-Cola bottles in Milan Expo last year. The innovative bio-polyester T-shirts are estimated to reduce more than 40 % carbon dioxide emissions as environmentally friendly products. The 100 % bio-polyester shirts not only realized both carbon footprint reduction and environmental protection goals, but also retains all the properties and features of polyester shirts without scarifying any functions which polyester should have. This development of 100 %bio PET plastics to textile application showed the tremendous potentials for changing the textile industry to use more sustainable bio-materials.
These state-of-the-art shirts were made entirely from plant-based material in a 9-step conversion. Starting from Virent’s BioFormPX® Paraxylene, FENC converted it to 100 % bio-PTA chemical, then 100 % bio-PET resins, POY and DTY yarns, fabrics weaving, dyeing and final shirts design and sewing. Due to the impacts of different raw material sources between biobased and petrochemical feedstocks, those still posed a lot of new challenges for FENC to overcome for achieving this world first 100 % bio-polyester shirt. This bio-polyester shirt illustrates the great capabilities of FENC in bioplastic materials besides the bio-PET bottles, and the further commitments for moving bioplastic materials to higher bio contents and broarder applications. This world first development opens the door to expand bioplastics materials for huge textile markets.
In 2010, Mars Chocolate Europe and Eurasia had a vision to switch to a bio-based packaging material that did not have a higher carbon footprint than the existing package for its Mars and Snickers chocolate products. Mars wanted to ensure there was economics of scale that would make the material affordable.
The type of bioplastics that Mars was looking for was not available in the market. “The focus was on using a packaging material that is sustainable and uses 2nd generation feedstock,” explained Thijs Rodenburg, CEO of Rodenburg Biopolymers. “Biodegradability was a packaging side-effect for Mars which didn’t consider it highly important because the company was concerned consumers might not understand what it (biodegradability) means; Mars didn’t want consumers thinking the packaging waste would just anyhow biodegrade and hence can be casually thrown into the environment.”
The project started in 2012, taking almost four years to develop the starch compound, run packaging production trials, and conduct consumer feedback research.
The starch compound for the packaging material consists mainly of starch derived from potato cutting waste – which doesn’t compete with food or animal feedstock - and some PLA. Taghleef manufactured the film on an existing BOPP, while Mondi printed the packaging; it took four production trials before an acceptable packaging film was manufactured.
Chocolate is not one of the easiest products to package in terms of smell and taste preservation and sensitivity, said Rodenburg, but this new starch-based packaging material fulfils the product protection requirements.
ecovio® EA foam product is predo-minantly bio-based (>70 %). Made from BASF’s biodegradable polyester ecoflex® and PLA, it is the first expandable, closed cell particle foam developed as a drop-in solution for Expandable Polystyrene (EPS) and Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) customers. By utilizing an innovative continuous extrusion process, ecovio EA polymer is charged with the blowing agent pentane to produce expandable beads that have a shelf-life of more than one year, without any quality impairment. The major benefits for the converter include lower transportation cost, longer storage time, less necessary storage space and most importantly its processability on existing standard machinery. Additionally, ecovio EA offers full flexibility in terms of density and complex dimension of shape moulded parts.
ecovio EA foam offers better thermal and chemical resistance than EPS and a very good energy absorption when subjected to heavy impacts. Thus the material is particularly suitable for transport packaging for heavy, high-value or delicate goods. The foam application can also be extended for its use in food packaging sector due to its good thermal insulation performance.
ecovio EA is highly durable under normal environmental conditions but degrades very fast within five weeks under industrial composting conditions. Prior to composting, the foamed material can also be recycled in customary recycling processes. The high biobased content and the certified compostability make the new material particularly attractive wherever a fossil packaging solution no longer meets customers’ requirements for a biobased and biodegradable packaging solution. Due to its high biobased content the CO2 footprint is much lower as compared to completely fossil based foam products.
Natural rubber is a key agricultural product in Thailand. Currently, rubber trees are planted in nurseries, above ground, in polyethylene (PE) film bags or polypropylene (PP) cones. These containers ensure that the roots grow in a contained vessel, enabling the farmer to transport and plant them easily. Once the mature trees are outplanted, the cutting off of the bag or cone can damage the root system.
The bioplastic container based on Corbion Purac’s PLA and other biopolymers provides an alternative to the existing options of PE bag / PP cone. The bioplastic cone offers the benefits of directed root growth (promoting longer tree life and increasing economic value per tree) combined with biodegradability at end of life (no need to cut off the container, thus reducing the current root damage yield loss created during container removal when outplanting). The biodegradable containers eliminate the current littering of non-biodegradable plastics currently caused by the existing PE bag solution. The bioplastic compound matches the climatic conditions and needs of both the nursery and the plantation, in various geographical locations in Thailand. The PLA is made from sugarcane grown locally in Thailand, making this a truly circular and local-for-local application.
Kun Chalermkiatkul, (Corbion Purac Thailand): “PLA bioplastics are a perfect material for the rubber tree root protection containers, given their biodegradability and performance. The fact that they are also made from feedstocks grown here in Thailand makes the project even more interesting. Corbion is proud to promote the circular, biobased economy in Thailand in this way”.
Treeson Spring Water was created to offer a sustainable alternative to the plastic water bottles that are sold by the billions every year and go un-recycled only to end up in landfills.
Treeson’s mission is to create 100 % natural, sustainable products, systems and technologies that raise environmental awareness and empower people to make choices that help protect and preserve the planet today.
Less than 30 % of plastic beverage bottles get recycled in the USA. What doesn’t get recycled ends up in landfills or even gets shipped overseas. Treeson’s philosophy is to take their bottles back after finishing them and use those returned bottles to generate clean energy. “Our mail-back return program is free for our customers and it supports the oldest government institution in the United States of America, the USPS (United States Postal Service), the organization with the greenest fleet on the streets,” says Carlton Solle, founder of Treeson Spring Water. “Just drop your bottles in the mailbox and we’ll take care of it thereafter.”
It may sound silly in the first moment, but empty bottles have to be transported to a recycling facility anyway. And it makes no big difference if this happens in a big dedicated truck or one bottle at a time stuffed in a free corner of a post truck that is doing the trip anyway. The shape of the bottles allows it to naturally collapse flat when empty for easy mailing.
The bottles are made of a PLA mixture that Carlton developed together with a manufacturer. It is 100 % toxin free and is certified free of any GMOs. The labels are made from 100 % post consumer recycled materials and are completely safe for the environment.
The entire trophy is 3D-printed from different PLA/PHA based compounds. bioplastics MAGAZINE is grateful to colorFabb (Venlo, the Netherlands) who printed the base-plate using their woodFill filament. The logo is made from brassFill and the two leaves are made from copperFill. Logo and leaves were tumbled and polished to enhance the metal gloss effect. The 3D-filaments made by colorFabb are based on PLA/PHA bioplastic products from FKuR (Willich, Germany) and metal-filled PLA/PHA compounded by Witcom Engineering Plastics (Etten-Leur, The Netherlands).
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