BIOMATERIALS IN PLASTICS

If it can’t be reduced, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production.“

Peter Seeger

Replacing synthetic plastics with bioplastics – actually a simple and ingenious idea. If you delve a little deeper into the world of plastics, you will quickly notice the different and diverse requirements, areas of application and types of plastic.

There are two different ways to achieve the goal of bio plastics:

1. CREATE PLASTIC MOLECULES FROM PLANT RAW MATERIALS

Bioplastics are biogenic derivatives of plastic molecules by using a bio-based materials. Usually materials like vegetable oils and fats (e.g. castor oil), cellulose and lactic acid from fermented sugar / starches are used for this purpose. These so-called biopolymers are made on the basis of renewable raw materials, but in competition with food production they compete with the same cultivated areas.
Positive properties are the interchangeability with petrochemical manufactured plastics, the consistent quality and the possibility of biodegradability.

So far, the main disadvantages of biopolymers are:

  • the high price per kg compared to synthetic plastics
  • the need for production in a large-scale biorefinery
2. FUNCTIONAL BIO-ADDITIVES
A completely different approach is the use of bio-fillers and bio-additives for the step-by-step exchange of petrochemical raw materials with renewable biomass. In contrast to the specially produced biopolymers, the bio-additives are near-natural substances that have generally only been subjected to mechanical processing (cleaning, drying, grinding, and sieving).
The use of biomass in compounds requires extensive knowledge of raw material preparation and process management for extruders and injection molding machines so that reproducible results can be achieved.
The big advantage compared to bioplastics like PLA is the origin of the raw material. The bio-additives usually do not compete with the food production, but complement each other ideally. Many by-products of the food processing industry are therefore used in a meaningful way instead of being disposed.

Raw materials for the production of bio-additives for example are:

  • Almond shells
  • Olive stones
  • Fruit kernels from cherries, apricots, plums, etc.
  • Cocoa shells
  • Coffee residues such as coffee grounds
  • Natural fibers such as sisal, jute and hemp

Applications for ORGANIC RAW MATERIALS

Plastic formulations (compounds) made with biogenic raw materials are used in many plastic products.

 

  • Single / disposable items for everyday use, such as food packaging
  • Agriculture & Horticulture for Compostable Plastics
  • Durable assets, such as floor coverings

OUR EXPERIENCE

Simply mixing biogenic raw materials such as milled almond shells in a compound to increase the organic content usually does not work. In particular, a close coordination of the process management of the plastics machines with the raw material is required here.
In addition to product-specific and technical requirements, the current legal framework must also be observed. The food contact materials regulation in particular represents a hurdle that should not be underestimated for the use of biomaterials in plastic formulations. Only materials that are on the EU’s positive list may be mixed with plastics if the finished product comes into contact with food.
We see ourselves as mediators and are happy to help you with our many years of experience in biomaterials. Here we pay special attention to the selection of promising (organic) raw materials for your specific application. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

Jens Ottmüller

Managing Director


+49 4102 891 38 43


jens@oamrecycling.de

Antonia Behncke

Materials Flow Manager


+49 4102 891 38 45


antonia@oamrecycling.de

Jan Neuber

Proxy


+49 4102 891 38 44


jan@oamrecycling.de

Curious now? We look forward to your call.