Renewable Polyester Exhibits Strong Gas-Barrier Properties

Volume 10, Issue 6

In This Issue:

  • Picking the right green claims
  • RENEWABLE

    Renewable Polyester Exhibits Strong Gas-Barrier Properties

    A revolutionary biobased monomer can be used to make a polyester suitable for packaging with better gas-barrier properties offering the potential for longer shelf life.

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  • Picking the right green claims
  • RENEWABLE

    PLA Production Expands

    A joint venture formed to produce and market polylactic (PLA) polymers with a capacity of 75,000 tons per year at Corbion’s site in Rayong, Thailand.

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RENEWABLE >

Renewable Polyester Exhibits Strong Gas-Barrier Properties

A revolutionary biobased monomer, furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME), can be used to make polytrimethylene furandicarboxylate (PTF), a polyester suitable for bottles and beverage packaging. With substantially better gas-barrier properties versus other polyesters, the 100% renewable and recyclable polymer offers the potential for longer shelf life.

Developed by DuPont Industrial Biosciences, Wilmington, DE, and Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM), Chicago, IL, the technology for production of FDME earned the Breakthrough Solution of the Year Award in the Platts Global Energy Awards competition, Denver, CO, in December 2016. DuPont and ADM were selected as Breakthrough Solution of the Year winners out of a field of eight finalists.

“FDME is a game-changing platform technology that will enable a variety of renewable, high-performance chemicals and polymers with applications across a broad range of industries,” explains Michael Saltzberg, global business director for Biomaterials at DuPont, which also can make PTF from its proprietary Bio-PDOT (1,3-propanediol).

“FDME is a highly functional, biobased building block, which we believe will deliver performance benefits in a number of industries including packaging, adhesives, coatings, elastomers and plastics,” adds Kevin Moore, president, Renewable Chemicals at ADM.

FDME production starts with fructose from corn. Now in scale-up phase, DuPont/ADM’s simple, efficient process results in higher yields, lower energy usage and lower capital expenditures than previous approaches.

An integrated 60-ton-per-year demonstration plant is currently under construction in Decatur, IL, and expected to begin operation in the second half of 2017. The facility will provide potential customers with sufficient product quantities for testing and research as well as data for a planned commercial-scale plant.

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RENEWABLE >

PLA Production Expands

Total, Paris, France, and Corbion, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, form a 50/50 joint venture to produce and market polylactic (PLA) polymers. The two partners are building a world-class PLA polymerization plant with a capacity of 75,000 tons per year at Corbion’s site in Rayong, Thailand, that already has a lactide (PLA monomer) production unit that will become part of the joint venture. The lactide plant also is being expanded to increase capacity 25,000 tons per year. Corbion will supply the lactic acid necessary for the production of the PLA and the lactide.

Tjerk de Ruiter, CEO of Corbion, states: “PLA is one of the first renewable, biodegradable polymers able to compete with existing polymers. The joint venture, which will combine Total’s technical and marketing knowledge and leading position in polymers with Corbion’s expertise in lactic acid and biopolymers, will enable us to supply innovative products and will accelerate market acceptance.”

The joint venture will be based in The Netherlands and launch operations in the first quarter of 2017, subject to regulatory approvals, and address demand for PLA, which is projected to grow 10% to 15% per year through 2025. Upon completion in 2018, the plant will be able to produce Corbion’s complete Luminy® portfolio of PLA neat resins.

Now also warehoused in North America, Luminy PLA grades range from standard to highly heat-resistant. “Many [North American] customers have expressed a need for a credible and high quality second source of PLA resins,” says Derek Atkinson, Corbion’s senior business director for the Americas.

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RENEWABLE >

Candy Wrapper Wins Bioplastics Award

A candy bar wrapper for Mars, McLean, VA, has won the 11th Global Bioplastics Award from bioplastics MAGAZINE, Mönchengladbach, Germany.

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The wrapper made from a (waste potato) starch-based biopolymer from Rodenburg Biopolymers BV, Oosterhout, The Netherlands, was chosen by the five-judge panel above four other finalists:

  • A collapsible, polylactic acid (PLA) blend bottle for Treeson Spring Water, Woodforest, TX, which is mailed back when empty and used to generate clean energy; 
  • Ecovio® EA foam from BASF, Ludwigshafen, Germany, a compostable polyester/PLA replacement for expanded polystyrene or expanded polypropylene foam;
  • A biodegradable rubber tree root protection container from Corbion, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Global Bio-Polymers and Maxrich Co., Bangkok, Thailand; and

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The chocolate bar wrapper is the result an effort that began in 2010 when Mars Chocolate Europe and Eurasia decided it wanted to switch to bio-based packaging with a lower carbon footprint for Mars and Snickers brand products. Affordability was paramount, but no material was available in the marketplace. The film also had to preserve the sensitive products’ smell and flavor.

“The focus was on using a packaging material that is sustainable and uses second generation feedstock,” explains Thijs Rodenburg, chief executive officer of Rodenburg Biopolymers. “Biodegradability was a packaging side-effect for Mars which didn’t consider it highly important because the company was concerned consumers might not understand what it (biodegradability) means; Mars didn’t want consumers thinking the packaging waste would just anyhow biodegrade and hence can be casually thrown into the environment.”

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Development efforts began in earnest in 2012, and it took nearly four years to develop the starch compound, run packaging production trials and conduct consumer feedback research.

The starch compound for the packaging material consists mainly of starch derived from potato cutting waste – which doesn’t compete with food or animal feedstock – and PLA. Taghleef Industries, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, manufactured the film on an existing line for biaxially oriented polypropylene film. Mondi, London, UK, performed printing duties.

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SUSTAINABLE EFFORT >

USDA Revises Date Labeling Guidance To Reduce Food Waste

To reduce food waste, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) wants food manufacturers and retailers to replace Sell- or Use-By date labels with “Best If Used By” information. According to FSIS, research shows that “Best If Used By” is easily understood by consumers as an indicator of quality, rather than safety.

A guidance document, published on December 14, 2016, recommends the change. Except for infant formula, product dating is not required by federal regulations. The use of different phrases to describe quality dates has caused consumer confusion and has led to the disposal of food that is otherwise wholesome and safe because it is past the date printed on the package. USDA estimates that 30% of food is lost or wasted at the retail and consumer level.

“…these changes will give consumers clear and consistent information when it comes to date labeling on the food they buy,” says Al Almanza, USDA deputy under secretary for Food Safety. “This new guidance can help consumers save money and curb the amount of wholesome food going in the trash.” Reducing food loss and waste is core to USDA’s mission, and it is working toward a goal of cutting food waste in half by 2030 and reducing the amount of wasted food in landfills.

The new guidance builds on changes FSIS has made to facilitate food donation and reduce food waste. Comments on this revised guidance may be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov or by mail to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, FSIS, Docket Clerk, Patriots Plaza III, 355 E St. S.W., 8-163A, Mailstop 3782, Washington, DC 20250-3700. All comments submitted must include docket number FSIS-2016-0044.

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SUSTAINABLE EFFORTS >

International Paper Fights Hunger

International Paper, Memphis, TN, partners with Mid-South Food Bank (MSFB) to fight hunger in its home town. The company plans to provide $1.25 million to modernize and streamline the food bank’s warehousing by enabling consolidation of three warehouses into one. The company also is providing safety and equipment experts onsite to help increase warehouse efficiency and enable service to more people in need.

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In addition, IP is donating 250,000 custom corrugated boxes, each capable of carrying 32 pounds of food, or 27 meals. These boxes will help the food bank deliver 15 million pounds of food annually across 31 counties. An additional $82,000 raised by spouses of company employees will provide 250,000 meals.

“We have selected fighting hunger as one of our signature charitable causes, and our work with Mid-South Food Bank will have a profound impact in the greater Memphis area,” reports Mark Sutton, chairman and chief executive officer of IP. “We are also announcing an emerging partnership with Feeding America [Chicago, IL]. This tremendous organization partners with 200 food banks (like the MSFB) and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs across the country providing families and individuals with nutritious food, hope and dignity.”

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RECYCLING/RECYCLED CONTENT >

Consumers Could Recycle A Lot More

Curbside recycling programs could collect more. At present only 35% to 45% of possible recyclables are recovered, according to The 2016 Sate of Curbside Report, published by The Recycling Partnership, Falls Church, VA.

The study examined frequency of collection, container type, municipal solid waste tip fees, material mix, collection approach and program ownership in more than 400 cities across the United States and concluded the most successful curbside programs share four characteristics:

  • Cart-based collection
  • Automatic service to all residents
  • Single-stream collection
  • Community actions that raised the priority of recycling

Steps to increase residential recovery include better accessibility to information about what to put in the bin/cart, consistent messaging about acceptable materials and more attention to collection from multi-family dwellings.

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RECYCLING/RECYCLED CONTENT >

Labels Cause No Recycling Problems

Undecorated RafShrink PO MDO 40 LS and RafShrink PO TDO 45 HS shrink sleeve films from UPM Raflatac, Helsinki, Finland, will not contaminate the polyethylene terephthalate recycling stream. According to the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), Washington, DC, the materials meet or exceed requirements outlined in its Sleeve Label for PET Bottles Critical Guidance Document.

However, bottles using the labeling materials, still should be tested for recyclability. As Stephen Alexander, executive director of APR, explained in his letter confirming the RafShrink materials meet the guidance,

“…bottles would need to be tested themselves to demonstrate the system of resin, label inks, adjuvants and closure conformed to the APR Critical Guidance Document. APR encourages all users of the RafShrink PO MDO 40 LS and RafShrink PO TDO 45 HS sleeve labels to be sure the label decoration inks do not disperse or dissolve into hot wash water.”

The two RafShrink materials join two other shrink sleeve films and pressure-sensitive technology, which also have been tested in accordance with the guidance document and confirmed to be recycling-friendly.

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RECYCLING/RECYCLED CONTENT >

Website Boosts Glass Recycling

The new GlassRecycles.org website provides resources for glass recycling. Content includes case studies, best practices and a growing library of resources related to community glass recycling.

The site, established by the Glass Recycling Coalition (GRC), Arlington, VA, highlights how, where and why to recycle glass in communities and provides interactive videos and links to behind-the-scenes glass processing and manufacturing.

Formed in mid-2016, “The GRC is fortunate to have more than 30 members that represent the complete glass value chain – glass container and fiberglass manufacturers, brands who use glass, glass recyclers, haulers, processors and end markets,” says Lynn Bragg of the Glass Packaging Institute, Arlington, VA, a founding member of the GRC. “Providing considerations and resources for communities to keep glass in their programs and increase the quality of recycled glass is a top priority,” she adds.

“Most Americans want to recycle,” notes Katie Wallace, assistant director of Sustainability for New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO, another GRC founding member. “The tools we’ve created here help to ensure glass recycling is available and effective across the nation,” she explains.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR >

Hallie Forcinio has covered packaging-related environmental topics for more than 25 years, first as an editor on Food & Drug Packaging magazine (now Packaging Strategies) and more recently as a freelance packaging journalist and principal of Forcinio Communications, an editorial services firm. “My interest in the environment dates back to a high school government class,” she notes. “I was collecting glass, newspapers and aluminum cans for recycling long before my community had a curbside recycling program.” In addition to preparing the TricorBraun Sustainability Times, she contributes articles to numerous trade publications including Pharmaceutical Technology, Dairy Foods, National Provisioner and Healthcare Packaging. She also has served as editor of the PACK EXPO Show Daily.

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