Bioplastics Business Breakfast

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  • Heart valve made of biopolymer implanted successfully


    Biopolymers can help to save lives and improve the quality of life. The new Tria valve, developed by Foldax, Inc., has the potential to address durability and clotting issues associated with traditional artificial heart valves.

    aThe Tria valve was implanted in a human patient at Beaumont Hospital in Michigan, USA. Dr. Marc Sakwa, Beaumont’s Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery, said, “The procedure was successfully performed on July 30th and the patient is doing well and has been discharged.”

    Tria heart valves are made of LifePolymer, an advanced biopolymer material. They feature a patented design to create a valve with the potential for lowering the cost of medical care given the increasing costs of using animal tissue valves and their associated durability and calcification concerns. The valve is designed to reduce or eliminate the need for a lifetime of anticoagulant drugs, including their risks and side effects.

    The proprietary biopolymer material and design of the Tria heart valves also allows for high volume manufacturing. The valves are robotically manufactured to provide the highest level of quality and precision and allow for future patient customization, while eliminating the variability of human production.

    In February, Foldax, which is based in Salt Lake City, Utah, announced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had granted investigative device exemption (IDE) approval for an Early Feasibility Study of the Tria surgical aortic heart valve to treat aortic valve disease.

    “The start of our EFS study in the US represents a major milestone for Foldax and heart valve patients worldwide since Tria valves represent true next generation technology. We are bringing 21st Century solutions to the worldwide problem of providing high quality products at an affordable price,” said Ken Charhut, Foldax executive chairman.

    Foldax’s Tria valves were developed by drawing on expertise from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) for proprietary polymer development and Caltech’s Division of Engineering and Applied Science and Chemistry Department. The Company’s investors include Kairos Ventures and Biostar Capital.

    The complete Tria heart valve platform will include valves developed for use in aortic and mitral valve disease with transcatheter and surgical applications. The company plans to complete enrolment in its Aortic EFS study at Beaumont Hospital and two additional sites this year.

  • PHA straws will hit the market later this year


    WinCup, a leading manufacturer of disposable foodservice to-go ware, is launching phade, a new line of straws and stirrers made from Danimer Scientific's Nodax PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate).

    aNodax PHA is derived from canola oil and is a marine biodegradable, soil biodegradable, and home compostable material. Georgia, USA-based WinCup is the first manufacturer in the U.S. to successfully produce commercially sellable straws from this unique material. Plans for a national rollout of this innovative new straw are underway and product will be available later this year. Increased consumer demand for more soil and ocean-friendly disposable products spurred the company's exploration into a viable solution.

    "We're proud to be at the forefront of this important initiative," says Michael Winters, President of WinCup Foodservice. "We understand the need for disposable products to have a better end-of-life story, and these straws are a realistic and promising step forward." As the demand for off-premise disposable products surges, so does the desire for more environmentally friendly to-go ware that meets consumer performance expectations.

    PHAs are naturally occurring and they biodegrade in marine and soil environments. The PHA resin used to manufacture the phade straws and stirrers will be certified by TUV/Vincotte for: biodegradability in marine, and soil environments; as well as home and industrial compostable environments. Additionally, compared to alternative substrates, PHA straws performance will be very similar to that of traditional polypropylene straws—a welcome development to customers who are frustrated with the poor performance and customer experience of alternative paper straws that tend to get soggy and collapse.

    With this exciting new product, WinCup also hopes to start a dialogue with state and local legislators as they consider straw legislation. Single use plastics laws and programs should be designed to encourage and reward this type of product innovation.

    Wincup's phade straws and stirrers are just the beginning of our product development with this exciting new substrate. "We're looking at the ways bioplastics and PHAs can really change the conversation around disposables," Winters explained. "At WinCup, we intend to continue to lead the industry in innovative products that satisfy every aspect of the consumer experience."

  • ‘More and more customers want to use our machines to manufacture biopolymers’


    In the run-up to K 2019, the VDMA is conducting a series of interviews with key players in the industry. The focus of each is the circular economy. Here, the VDMA talks to Arne Festerling, Sales Manager at ENTEX Rust & Mischke GmbH

    aWithin the framework of circular economy scheme promoted by the EU, the amount of recyclates to be processed should be distinctly increased. Is there a need for your machines to be technically adapted?

    Arne Festerling: Our machines have been processing recyclates for decades. So, we do not have to adjust them to circular economy and the expected greater recyclate amounts. They can already do that.

    Which role does the quality of recyclates play in terms of processing?

    Festerling: It naturally has an impact on the result. If we feed bad material into the extruder, we cannot work miracles. But we can process these materials very well. If you take film manufacture, for example, recylcates from edge strips or pre-production material can be very well included.

    Do your customers show increasing interest in using recyclates?

    Festerling: Yes. Meanwhile faced with the bad image of plastics, our customers are increasingly considering the possibility of using recyclates. There is a perceptible trend. But there is an even stronger demand for processing biomaterials. More and more customers want to use our machines to manufacture biopolymers, which are thermally very sensitive. Our planetary roller extruder has the advantage of controlling the temperature very well. The share of bio-based plastics we have to process has meanwhile reached almost 50 per cent. This development started about five years ago and has gained in dynamism over the past two years.

    Does this demand concern bio-based or biodegradable plastics?

    Festerling: We can process both. For example, wood polymer composites, WPC, which are also used as decking boards or facade cladding. They are made of wood flour and polyethylene. Our machines process WPC consisting of 80 per cent wood flour and only 20 per cent polyethylene. The wood flour is waste from sawmills. That means you can make a product as good as new from waste and save hardwood. Wood polymer composites are also good for the climate as the more you use the more trees you save. And the trees can then help improve the CO2 balance.

    Can this material be recycled?

    Festerling: For WPC, we already have a kind of functioning circular economy. When a building is demolished, for example, the WPC boards are returned to the facade manufacturer. They are shredded and afterwards included into new products which are sold again. Or decking boards. They are outside on your terrace for, let's say 20 years and then you use them to make new ones.

    Recently, China has introduced collection systems in 46 cities, just like that. Can the country act as a role model?

    Festerling: You can always observe how quickly developments are pushed ahead in China. Here in Europe it often takes ages. I think there is no way around a market with 1.4 billion people if you want to find solutions to global challenges. That is why we are trying more strongly to enter the Chinese market. With techniques we have not applied there previously.

    But the Chinese are currently catching up in the field of machine technology, aren’t they?

    Festerling: In China, we can sell machines for sophisticated applications. This is where we already have an edge. We invest a lot in research and development to maintain this position. Of course, there are competitors in China, but none that have a system like our planetary roller extruder. In China, we are meanwhile more strongly involved in process development, and apart from the classical PVC market, which used to be our focus market in China, we are becoming increasingly active in other markets such as recycling or the food sector.

    Many companies from the world of plastics complain that the bad image discourages skilled workers. Do you also have the feeling?

    Festerling: We experience the opposite. People see what we are doing to solve the waste problem. This makes us an attractive employer. For instance, we put much effort in recycling of scrap tyres. When treating rubber, you apply a process called vulcanising. We reverse this process in our machines so that the material can be used like new rubber. If you communicate this properly, we will be perceived as an enterprise that deals with the issues that are problems from the viewpoint of society.

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