5 things you didn’t know about...bio-based polymers
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1. Bio-based polymers are generally referred to as bioplastics, which are defined as a plastic that is either bio-based, biodegradable, or both. So bioplastics are not only derived from biomass but can include fossil-based polymers, too, if they are biodegradable.
2. Most biodegradable plastics will only decompose in an industrial composting facility.
3. Coca-Cola introduced the first version of its PlantBottle, made from 30% bio-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET), in 2009. Standard PET, used widely in drinks bottles, pots, tubs and oven-ready trays is a combination of 32.2% monoethylene glycol (MEG) and 67.8% purified terephthalic acid (PTA).
4. Companies and research institutions are developing bio-based polymers with a variety of natural feedstocks. Lactips, a French start-up, is expecting its milk protein-based polymers to enter the laundry, water treatment and agrochemicals market in the third quarter of 2017.
5. Banana peel provides the base for polymers developed at the University of Sonora, Mexico. Strips of banana endocarp are immersed in two antioxidants and then dried, lyophilised and mixed with either citric acid or propolis, a resinous mixture produced by honey bees to create a mouldable paste. When mixed with propolis, the biopolymer is food-safe and prevents the proliferation of bacteria and fungi. The University of Strathclyde, UK, has even developed a polymer using a waste product of the seafood industry.
To find out more see page 61 of the upcoming April issue of Materials World.