More bioplastic news

Here are more green plastic news from last week. Incidentally, I ampreparing for a bioplastic article for ICIS Chemical Business so watchout for that in June.

First stop is Coca-Cola’sannouncement of its new plant-based plastic bottle, 30% of which ismade from sugar cane and molasses. The rest of the plastic ispetroleum-based polyethylene (PET).

The company said the 100%recyclable plastic bottle can be processed through existingmanufacturing and recycling facilities without contaminatingtraditional PET. Coca-Cola North America will pilot the “PlantBottle™”with Dasani and sparkling brands in select markets later this year andwith VitaminWater in 2010.

Bioplastic manufacturer Metabolix,meanwhile, got proof that their plastic is compostable in Europe. Thecompany’s Mirel™ bioplastic resins received the Vinçotte certificationof “OK Compost” for compostability in an industrial composting unit and”OK Compost HOME” for compostability in home composting systems. Hmmm,only ok?? No great, plantastic, or plantabulous??? Metabolixsaid the Belgium-based Vinçotte is widely recognized in Europe formaterials inspection, certification, assessments and technical training.

Another bioplastic manufacturer Cereplastsaid its Hybrid Resins® is going to be used in juvenile furnitureproducts such as a bathtub, potty, booster and step stool by DorelJuvenile Group. Dorel’s Safety 1ST Nature Next™ products line will besold in hundreds of stores nationwide including Wal-Mart.

Meanwhile, Bio-Tec Environmentalis working to make traditional petroleum-based plastic green with itsadditive EcoPure. The company said it just completed a new round oftesting on its EcoPure, which turns regular plastic into biodegradableplastic.

The company tested polypropylene, PVC, PE and EVA at anindependent lab, and the results are said to indicate that EcoPuremakes plastics biodegrade in a microbial rich environment, when used ata .7% concentration.

Finally, researchers from Iowa State University (ISU)are investigating how certain varieties of battlefield-generated wasteplastics can boost the power output of biodiesel, which can fuelmilitary base generators. The U.S. Army initiated the research withGeneral Atomics, Renewable Energy Group Inc. and ISU to investigatewhich plastic materials (such as styrofoam) best dissolve intobiodiesel, and how stationary engines perform when running on thepolymer-rich fuel.

“If you takea Styrofoam cup and drop it into room-temperature biodiesel, it willdissolve in a couple minutes, but Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), orsoda bottles, will not dissolve,” said Iowa State professor BalajiNarasimhan. “Some garbage bags and containers for meals ready to eat(MREs) also dissolve into biodiesel.”

According toBiodiesel magazine, engine tests thus far have only successfully usedbiodiesel with polystyrene–in concentrations of 1 percent, 2 percent, 5percent and 10 percent.

[Photo credit from Coca-Cola, Dorel Juvenile Group, and ISU]

5 Responses to More bioplastic news

  1. Danny Clark 18 May, 2009 at 2:17 pm #

    ENSO Bottles announced that they will be launching thier PET with EcoPure PET bottles to the U.S. market later this month. This will allow both small and large bottling companies to implement a true biodegradable PET bottle. Plus when the bottles biodegrade in a landfill the methane is used for producing clean energy.

  2. Vishwas Mehendaley 19 May, 2009 at 11:50 pm #

    Interesting article.

  3. Doris 20 May, 2009 at 5:46 pm #

    Hi Danny,
    So does this mean the ENSO PET bottles are both biodegradable and recyclable? How long will it degrade completely? Is biodegradable different from compostable?

  4. Simon 3 June, 2009 at 2:23 pm #

    the terminology around bioplastics is confusing to say the least. Biodegradable plastics degrade according to some standard but they could be fossil-derived or plant-derived.
    The EU standard refers to ‘industrial’ composting at high temperature >60 degrees. Compostable is used often loosely by companies.
    There are some bioplastics which are ‘home compostable’ which means no need for high temperature, it will work in your back garden compost heap. That is the OK Compost Home standard, which is not an official EU one.
    I cannot see recycling companies being at all keen on a biodegradable PET when at least in EU PET is one of the few plastic types that is recycled at scale.
    You might like the magazine I write for although it is rather UK-centric (shameless plug coming up). It is called the ENDS Report and I wrote all about bioplastics in our March issue.

  5. Erik 4 June, 2009 at 10:36 am #

    These companies are going to have it rough.

    See this ICIS article, “US PET packaging group cautions against degradable additives”

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