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Closing the loop on bioplastics

Interest in bioplastics continues to climb, even though some of the actual demand may have slackened due to the drop in the past months of the price of oil, and the correspondingly lower price for petroleum-based plastics. There has been a slew of developments involving bioplastics in the past two to three years, with most of these focused on processing of the materials.

Interest in bioplastics continues to climb, even though some of the actual demand may have slackened due to the drop in the past months of the price of oil, and the correspondingly lower price for petroleum-based plastics. There has been a slew of developments involving bioplastics in the past two to three years, with most of these focused on processing of the materials. But with many experts saying that processing of these is little or no different than with established plastics, attention is starting towards proper reuse/recycling of bioplastic production scrap.



Testing has proven the new recycling machine does not negatively affect bioplastics’ production scrap.


That, anyway, is the argument being made by plastics reprocessing machinery manufacturer Next Generation Recycling Maschinery (NGR; Feldkirchen, Austria), which this week at the Plast ’09 trade show in Italy is debuting its newest machine, the S-Gran-HD, designed especially for reprocessing of bioplastics. NGR officials say they hope to dissuade naysayers who assume these types of plastics cannot be recycled, especially with an eye on heat history. The more times a material is melted and processed, the greater its heat history; the greater the heat history, the worse its mechanical properties over time.

NGR says this new machine is able to recycle these plastics without use of high temperatures, which bodes well for the re-use of the plastics as well as for low running costs for the machine. Josef Hochreiter, managing director at NGR, predicts the machines will see use at processors of packaging, especially films or thermoformed packaging, with the manufacturer’s marketing push initially focused on the U.S. and Europe. He predicts annual demand for such recycling machines could reach up to 100 units/yr by 2012, based on demand growth rates for bioplastics.

Testing of the new machine was successfully completed, according to NGR, and some models already have been installed for selected customers in North America and Europe.  [email protected]
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