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New polylactic acid (PLA) alloys enable manufacturers of electronic housings and other components to incorporate substantial amounts of bio-based content in their products without sacrificing the essential mechanical and thermal properties provided by engineering thermoplastics (ETPs), it was announced today by the Bioplastics Division of Teknor Apex Company. These tough PLA alloys perform like engineering thermoplastics while providing up to 40% biocontent.

Karen Laird

June 13, 2012

4 Min Read
Green Matter: Teknor toughens up PLA; and bioplastics become kids’ play—and a fashion accessory

New polylactic acid (PLA) alloys enable manufacturers of electronic housings and other components to incorporate substantial amounts of bio-based content in their products without sacrificing the essential mechanical and thermal properties provided by engineering thermoplastics (ETPs), it was announced today by the Bioplastics Division of Teknor Apex Company. These tough PLA alloys perform like engineering thermoplastics while providing up to 40% biocontent.

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Teknor Apex

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Purac

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Gucci

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Gucci



Based on alloys of PLA and ETPs, Terraloy BP 70010 and 70011 compounds provide similar or greater strength, stiffness, and heat distortion temperature in comparison with standard polycarbonate (PC), ABS, and PC/ABS blends while incorporating 40% and 36% levels of bio-based content, respectively (see table), and thus help manufacturers to meet sustainability goals such as the minimum 25% biocontent specification in the BioPreferred Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Other Terraloy 70000 Series alloys may be formulated on a custom basis to meet specific customer requirements.

Potential applications for the new compounds include injection molded housings, handles, covers, and other components of electronic devices, medical equipment, and consumer products.
 
“Teknor Apex has drawn on its formulating and compounding expertise to develop ETP compounds that have high bio-based content yet deliver performance comparable to standard petroleum-based engineering resins, while lowering overall greenhouse gas emissions,” said Edwin Tam, manager of new strategic initiatives. “Indeed, both of the Terraloy alloys surpass ABS in mechanical and thermal properties and provide substantially higher levels of stiffness than PC or PC/ABS blends.”  

Purac, the Dutch producer of biobased monomers for PLA, is intent on demonstrating that bioplastics are easily hardy enough to survive even the most hands-on users, namely kids. On June 4, 2012 a Biobased Kids House sponsored by Purac was opened by the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation. The Biobased Kidshouse was developed by the Dutch public-private partnership BE-Basic, and features materials based on agri-waste, tree bark, and potato peels. More than a playhouse, it aims to teach children about biobased materials, as a means to promote a biobased economy in future generations. The Biobased Kidshouse has been created entirely from innovative, biobased building materials. Every part of the house has been produced from materials based on natural resources and the materials can easily be reused or recycled. Some examples include wall switches and cable ducts made from bioplastics and roof insulation panels made from expanded PLA foam. The project demonstrates how biobased construction can reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.

The Biobased Kidshouse is part of the Floriade World Horticultural Expo that is organized once every 10 years in the Netherlands, and can be found next to the 'My Green World' pavilion, in the Education & Innovation section.

And Gucci is continuing the good work that started with the introduction of its eco-packaging in 2010: the company announced the launch of Sustainable Soles, a special edition of eco-friendly women's and men's shoes designed by Creative Director Frida Giannini and part of the Prefall 2012 Collection. The new project is Gucci’s answer to “consumers’ desire for sustainable fashion products”, but of course, “all the while maintaining the balance between the timeless values of style and utmost quality with an ever-growing green vision.”

The Sustainable Soles include the Marola Green ballerinas for her —made entirely of bio-plastic—and the California Green sneakers for him, which come in low- and high-top versions. The bio-rubber soled sneakers are accented with what Gucci calls "biologically certified strings." The prominently displayed Gucci logo is printed in green on a recycled polyester tab.

The shoe collection follows hard on the heels of the announcement that Gucci and premium eye ware supplier Safilo were launching a redesigned, eco-friendly packaging for Gucci’s eyewear collections. Upon purchase, customers will receive an informational leaflet and a preaddressed envelope in order to send the case to a dedicated center where it may be recycled to make new products.

Gucci also announced it would be introducing the first-ever sunglasses made from Liquid Wood – an innovative biodegradable, eco-friendly material never before used in the eyewear sector.  Liquid Wood is composed of wood fiber from sustainably managed forests and lignin from the paper manufacturing process and natural wax. The initial prototype in semi-matte black with shaded grey glass lenses has been developed based on the Gucci signature bamboo-inspired frame, but in a new material reflecting Gucci’s commitment to environmental sustainability. In addition to the hinges, the small metal rings that outline the bamboo joints are made from recycled metal.

I guess for regular mortals, here’s an excellent chance to go green as well. With envy.

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