04 April 2012 06:33 [Source: ICIS news]
ORLANDO, Florida (ICIS)--Bioplastics will soon be accepted as an equal to plastics, a BASF representative said on Tuesday.
“The idea that bioplastics is a separate part of the polymer world is going away,” said Keith Edwards, BASF’s business manager, biodegradable plastics in North America.
Public demand for sustainability as well as recyclable materials will drive biopolymers’ acceptance. “Whether it is a bioplastic or not won’t be a question,” noted Edwards.
While the usual drivers, such as cost and ease of use, will still be in play, a new market driver will be renewability. Consumers are saying “make everything renewable” and will be considering “the best way that the product has a life after use”, said Edwards, speaking on the sidelines of the National Plastics Exposition (NPE) in Orlando.
However, recycling food items will not be easy. A chip bag, for example, needs around seven to nine levels of polymers to keep out oxygen and moisture that could spoil the food. Those multiple levels are “too many chemistries [and] it can’t be recycled”, said Edwards.
This has been driving research into improving barrier technologies in bioplastics where something like a chip bag can be made compostable, noted Edwards.
BASF is further testing the applicability of its co-polyester Ecoflex, which has already been used in some food bagging applications as well as plastic cups and cutlery.
The four-day NPE is sponsored by the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) and runs through Thursday.
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