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Bio-Based event looks at a range of sustainable products

San Diego — Cellulose, corncob fibers and rice and peanut hulls were among the petroleum-alternative sustainable resin materials discussed during the Bio-Based Live conference for the Americas.

Holli Alexander underscored the sustainability benefits of the Eastman Chemical Co.'s new Treva-brand cellulose-based engineering bioplastic.

Alexander is strategic initiatives manager for Eastman global sustainability.

Eastman is conducting multiple Treva field trials now under confidentiality agreements with current or potential downstream customers making rigid durable products.

"Bio-based is not enough," she said. "You need performance, and the product must work and be affordable for all."

Alexander noted manufacturing's historic "take-make-waste" model and suggested movement toward the "repair-remake-recycle" circular economy concept of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation of Cowes, England.

After discussing Treva development in 2016, Eastman launched the product at the Chinaplas trade show in May.

Free of bisphenol A and phthalates, Treva grade GC6021 has a bio-based content of 42 percent and Treva grade GC6011 has 45 percent as certified under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's BioPreferred program. Traditional petrochemicals form the remainder.

Eastman sources the cellulose from suppliers certified for sustainable forest management practices.

The Kingsport, Tenn.-based advanced materials and specialty additives company has legacy capabilities for compounding cellulosic plastics going back to its 1924 development of cellulose acetate films.

 

Bio-based toys

Material formulator Green Dot Bioplastics LLC of Cottonwood Falls, Kan., and toymaker BeginAgain Inc. of Fort Collins, Colo., collaborate on eco-friendly projects.

Mark Remmert, CEO of Green Dot Bioplastics, and Chris Clemmer, co-founder of BeginAgain and the firm's industrial designer, described how to develop and market bio-based toys including award-winning Eco Rigs licensed by Deere & Co., flavor-scented ice cream scoops and GreenRing teethers.

"I think the last century belonged to cheap hydrocarbons," Remmert said in his presentation. "The next century will usher in a vast array of biologically derived raw materials for food, fuel, fiber, plastics and chemicals."

Green Dot's starch-based Terratek-brand Flex bioresin combines corncob fibers and Braskem SA's ethanol-sugarcane-based I'm Green-brand polyethylene. Braskem produces the PE at a plant it commissioned in 2010 in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Green Dot commercialized Terratek Flex in early 2012.

For the Eco Rigs, the bio-based material carries a scent of the crops grown and harvested with the same dump trucks and front loaders that the toys depict.

Green Dot can add essential oils of chocolate, vanilla or strawberry to scent Terratek Flex for the child-safe ice cream scoops.

Soft corn starch bioresin encircles a 3-inch loop of smooth maple wood in the baby teethers.

BeginAgain contracts for production with injection molders in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Spring Grove, Ill.

 

Roger Renstrom William Horner shows compostable 100-percent plant-based water bottles for which Totally Green Bottles and Caps LLC of Red Oak, Iowa., is beginning proof-of-concept closed-loop-recycling demonstrations. Totally Green compostable bottles

Totally Green Bottles and Caps LLC of Red Oak, Iowa, is beginning proof-of-concept closed-loop recycling demonstrations of its compostable 100-percent plant-based water bottles, caps and labels. Six initial sites will operate during the first half of 2018.

Totally Green has a partnership "with a smart group of people" at Urthpact LLC in Leominster, Mass., said William Horner, Totally Green founder and CEO. The operation received an equipment loan from the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency.

Demonstration sites include schools, airports and stadiums. For broader applications at a later date, Totally Green is talking with the sustainability promoter Green Sports Alliance of Portland, Ore., along with professional leagues and college athletic conferences.

"We mean to change the looks and substance of plastic bottles," Horner said. "We are trying to turn an ugly negative into a positive." Totally Green employs 15.

To ensure a secure closed loop, he prohibits sales on retail shelves and instead contracts for recycling "with industrial composters who pick up food scraps," he said. To put it mildly, he abhors the thought of Totally Green bottles entering a traditional recycling stream.

The Leominster team engineered a way to mold compostable plant-based plastics after recognizing the insufficiency of traditional injection molding methods.

"It took five years to get a compostable material for the caps," he said, with material from "multiple sources for the proprietary resin recipe."

A shop in Switzerland made the mold. The Leominster plant produces preforms, the water bottler handles blow molding at the filling site and a contract processor makes the proprietary compostable labels.

In 2003, the farmer-educator-entrepreneur started Naturally Iowa LLC, an organic dairy processor using polylactic acid containers. Horner founded Totally Green in 2012 to target the market for plant-based bottles. The materials come from corn, rice and peanut hulls and other plants.

 

Investments in Malaysia

Biotechnology firm Verdezyne Inc. of Carlsbad, Calif., is making progress in construction of a 20,000-square-foot plant on a leased site in the Bio-XCell park in Nusajaya, Malaysia. Production should begin in 2019.

The development joint venture Bio-Xcell Sdn. Bhd. provided Verdezyne with a loan of approximately $75 million (250 million Malaysia ringgits).

Verdezyne in partnership with conglomerate Sime Darby Bhd. of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, will use palm oil to produce dodecanedioic acid, a renewable bio-based chemical known as Triple DA.

"We are focused on Triple DA," said Tom Beardslee, Verdezyne vice president of research and development. "We know the initial platform." Target markets include food, feed and animal nutrition. Verdezyne employs 68 persons.

"We need regulatory approvals," Beardslee said noting the need for further investment and downstream partnerships. "We want someone with success in the market we are entering and wanting to expand."

 

Method taps 'nature's solution'

Kai Johnson explained that Method Products pbc incorporates the chemistries of 26 ingredients in making a bottle to hold Method's laundry detergent. Johnson is San Francisco-based Method's senior director and green chief.

Johnson said Method uses "nature's solution" — sophorolipids — in the manufacturing process at its plant on Chicago's South Side. The surface-active glycolipid compound can be synthesized with non-pathogenic yeast for use as a bio-surfactants.

On Sept. 14, privately owned consumer product firm SC Johnson & Son Inc. of Racine, Wis., said it is buying Method Products and its sister company Ecover Belgium BV of Malle, Belgium.

 

Sustainable flexible packaging

Elk Packaging of Los Angeles is producing sustainable flexible film packaging now being used for the organic pearl Heirloom Quinoa line from Alter Eco Americas Inc.

Elk uses a range of materials including polylactic acid, polybutylene succinate and polyhydroxyalkanoates as it changes or modifies content in conventional flexible film packaging to adjust the barrier, print and sealability performance values.

Elk has a "vision of zero-waste packaging," said Reyna Bryan, director of strategy, and aligns with brand, material supplier and manufacturing partners including Tipa Corp.

Tipa Co-Founder and CEO Daphna Nissenbaum said her firm aims to develop organic packages that can be composted. Tipa is based in Hod Hasharon, Israel, with a U.S. office in Morristown, N.J.

"Tipa's technology is inspired by an idea from nature's packages," she said, noting the decomposition properties of an apple or orange. "We want to treat plastic as organic waste."

London-based food producer Snact Ltd. partnered with Tipa beginning in September 2016 and uses Tipa film for packaging that can biologically decompose in a home compost heap or a food waste collection system.

 

Innovation awards

Conference organizers presented bio-based innovation awards for the Americas.

Green Dot Bioplastics received the top bio-based product of the year award for its John Deere Eco-Rig project with BeginAgain.

In the category of bio-based chemical innovation of the year, renewable chemicals company EcoSynthetix Inc. of Burlington, Ontario, won for its DuraBind-brand engineered biopolymers in sustainable no-added-formaldehyde binders for wood composite applications.

London-based Bio-Based World Ltd., an event manager and publisher, organized the Sept. 26-27 Bio-Based Live Americas event in San Diego. About 125 persons attended. Bio-industry consultant Murray McLaughlin of Tillsonburg, Ontario, served as moderator.

» Publication Date: 12/10/2017

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