Bioplastics in packaging come into its own

Dusseldorf — "At Interpack this year, one of the statements heard again and again was 'we are already working with bioplastics,'"said Hasso von Pogrell, managing director of European Bioplastics. "It shows that bioplastics play an important role for present and future packaging solutions."

Packaging is the leading application segment for all types of bioplastics. This was further underscored by the bioplastics "island" created by some 21 bioplastics companies and European Bioplastics , in Hall 9. This year, at the European Bioplastics booth, the association reprised its "Bioplastics in Packaging" stage program, introduced during the previous Interpack show in 2011, with daily presentations from bioplastics packaging experts on the latest news and trends in the industry. On the busiest days, "the interested crowd jammed the corridor next to the booth of European Bioplastics," the association reported.

Among the companies exhibiting in the bioplastics pavilion were the German bioplastics compounder FKuR and lactic acid producer Corbion Purac , who announced at Interpack that they were formalizing their ongoing collaboration by entering into a strategic partnership to develop high heat resistant PLA compound. The companies are targeting new bioplastic compounds for applications, which include both food and non-food packaging, as well as several durable products e.g. toys and office supplies. In particular, Corbion Purac and FKuR will be working to develop those applications where high temperature resistance is required, which, until now, could not work with many standard bioplastics. One of the first commercial applications resulting from this development work is a heat resistant thermoformed food tray, produced from Bio-Flex F 6611 by Plastisud (Italy), which was on display at the booths of both Corbion Purac and FKuR.

Metabolix, the U.S. biopolymers company specialized in the production of PHA , was showcasing two new grades of its Mvera compostable film grade resin: Mvera B5011, designed as a transparent option for the compostable film and bag market, and Mvera B5010, a more robust version for compostable bag and film markets across the globe. Both, according to Wilfried Jobst, global commercial operations director at Metabolix, were launched at the Interpack show. The company  was also presenting its color masterbatches, based on biopolymers. "The carriers are adapted to the customers needs," said Jobst. "All the colors are lead and cadmium free and contain no azo-pigments or phthalates. All are compostable and biodegradable in soil an marine conditions." Asked about the direction further developments at Metabolix might take, Jobst commented that the price of PHA meant that it was currently being promoted as an additive. "But we listen to our customers. In fact, feedback from our customers drives development. A good example is transparent film." A PLA impact modified PHB is currently close to market readiness, which, he said, remains transparent even after the addition of the PHB. "That product is aimed at packaging and shopping bags where the mechanical requirements are higher."

Another growth area for the company is non-film applications. "Sales of granulate for injection molding applications are on the rise," said Jobst. "PHA has a lot of end-of-life options. We see potential in products such as

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