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With cities across the globe banning traditional expanded polystyrene, which is a derivative of petroleum, Netherlands-based Synprodo believes its new compostable foam is a suitable alternative.Synprodo, a supplier of packaging and plastic industrial products, will introduce BioFoam, its organically based, compostable foam, at the FachPack (Sept 24-25; Nürnberg, Germany) trade show.

PlasticsToday Staff

September 4, 2013

2 Min Read
Synprodo creates organically based, compostable foam alternative

Styropor is an expanded polystyrene (EPS) invented by BASF in 1951 and today is used for construction as well as for packaging. However, since it's manufactured from polymers derived from fossil fuel based raw materials, Synprodo believes alternatives are urgently needed.

At FachPack, Synprodo will present BioFoam, which it says is the first particle foam made from renewable raw materials.

"FachPack is an ideal venue for presenting our innovation," said Peter de Bruijn, general sales manager at Synprodo. "We meet existing and potential customers here and can show them our portfolio. These initial contacts and ideas can lead to exciting joint projects."

BioFoam is a rigid foam comparable with EPS. Its structure and appearance, and its insulating and mechanical properties are the same as those of traditional EPS, the company said. The foam is lightweight and insensitive to moisture. The material is also resistant to mold and UV radiation, and poses no health risks.

The main difference between the two is the base material: BioFoam is made of a biopolymer obtained from plants. This polymerized lactic acid (PLA or polylactide) consists of a lactic acid copolymer, made from sugar cane or cassava starch. The lactic acid is heated and polymerized in several cleaning and processing stages before a hot melt granulation produces beads. These are mixed with additives and subject to a further hot melt granulation before a propellant is incorporated.

The pellets are imbedded with CO2 in a pressure vessel, where they are expanded to BioFoam beads by a temperature change. The granulate can be used directly after this process, for example for cavity fill insulation, or processed further. The resulting material can be reused without a loss of quality and is biodegradable under industrial conditions. It does not degrade at room temperature.

In addition, BioFoam is colored green, which the company believes makes it easier to distinguish it from EPS.

BioFoam received a cradle to cradle certificate, the first biodegradable foam packaging in the world to receive this award, according to Synprodo. The Synprodo foam is reportedly continuously reusable without a loss of quality and also helps significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

The company touts that its EPS production requires less energy than othe packaging materials, and that BioFoam manufacturing produces less total CO2. Synprodo is also working on CO2 neutral production of its biological hard foam for the future.

 "Our innovation combines high environmental compatibility with a variety of shapes and sizes - which makes it unique and suitable for a variety of applications," De Bruijn said.

The material is ideal for molded parts and (contour) cut products. This produces a wide range of technical products and packaging solutions with freedom of design. Responding to the demand for compostable foam, Synprodo supplies many different articles, including cool boxes and transport pallets.

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