Among the highlights at last week’s NPE2015 in Orlando, FL, was the announcement on Wednesday that Eastman Kodak had been selected to receive the 2015 Innovation in Bioplastics Award. The company was recognized for its creation of a bio-toner designed for the electro-photographic printing industry that contains greater than 90% biobased and biodegradable materials. The award is bestowed annually on one of what Keith Edwards of BASF, Chairman of the SPI Bioplastics Division, referred to as the industry’s “most forward-thinking innovators.”
“The Innovation in Bioplastics Award was created to draw attention to solutions that are being created by the industry using bioplastics, and to draw attention to companies that are using bioplastics not just as a novelty, but to actually solve real world issues because of their unique functionality,” said Edwards.
“Bioplastics isn’t a revolution, it’s an evolution, and Eastman Kodak created a biobased toner that’s very innovative,” he added. “Because it’s going to be used in a wide array of applications, it has the potential to have a huge impact on the marketplace.
“We congratulate Eastman Kodak because they did something very new and we hope that their success helps other companies look to bioplastics for the solutions they can bring. ”
According to SPI President and CEO William R. Carteaux, the term bioplastics has quickly grown to become synonymous with innovation. “Eastman Kodak’s creation of a bio-toner that is formulated with biobased and biodegradable materials continues that tradition,” he said. He then thanked all of this year’s entrants for their continuing pursuit of new applications for biobased and biodegradable materials and for “supporting the expansion of choices that plastics manufacturers have when it comes to the materials they use in their products.”
The novel biobased and biodegradable bio-toner developed by the Rochester, NY, company is based on NatureWorks’ low-carbon-footprint Ingeo PLA resin, derived from renewable resources, and natural waxes that only contain a small amount of inorganic material. Having such a high percentage of PLA makes the de-inking process for this material much simpler, and the resulting waste material contains mostly lactic acid, which, as Eastman Kodak noted, is a useful feedstock for other plastic products and stands in stark contrast to typical residue left over after standard de-inking processes.
According to Eastman Kodak, toner resin worth approximately $1 billion is consumed each year in the printing industry for electro-photographic toners. One third of that goes into chemical toner production, of which color toner production accounts for 98%. Bioresins have limited impact in the industry, accounting for only 1% of color toners and 10% of monochrome toners. Developing economically viable bio-toners that can be used at 100% incorporation, as Eastman Kodak’s bio-toner aims to do, can capture greater market share.
Eastman Kodak expects its biobased toner to be widely available by May or June of this year.