Market News

Biopolymer specialist works with NIAB to tackle plastic pollution

Biopolymer specialist works with NIAB to tackle plastic pollution 700 336 Agronomist Arable Farmer

Biopolymer innovator Teysha Technologies has joined NIAB to research, test and develop bioplastics for the agricultural industry in the UK. The opportunity will allow Teysha to expand as the start up further commercialises in the UK, utilising the Eastern Agritech Innovation Hub near Cambridge. The Hub will be the focal point for developing and testing new sustainable materials and bioplastics to tackle growing plastic pollution as well as investigating waste feedstock options within British agricultural operations.

The first innovation to be delivered from the new Teysha laboratory will be a series of new polyester composite materials. Their purpose will be to replace some products that are currently based on petrochemical plastics, as well as improve the biodegradability of existing bioplastics such as polylactic acid. Unlike other polymer manufacturing processes, the synthesis of Teysha’s materials generates zero chemical by-products for disposal. Its properties make it susceptible to microbial breakdown, a desirable benefit for applications like packaging.

Teysha’s new polyester composites show promise as plastic alternatives across industries like agriculture and horticulture. For example, British gardeners go through 500 million plastic plant pots a year that are either incinerated or sent to landfills. On average they take an estimated 450 years to degrade and in the process may release toxic additives, dyes and microplastics into the environment. To address this, Teysha is targeting the development of alternatives using polyester composites. The goal is to prototype alternative options that provide additional plant nourishment while also having the ability to either biodegrade or be composted.

“This opportunity to work with the NIAB will allow us to further develop innovative, sustainable materials that can replace harmful plastics in industries like agriculture, as well as examine waste feedstocks for our range of biopolymers.” Said Matthew Stone, Managing Director of Teysha Technologies. “Working with such an important UK institution will also accelerate commercialisation in the UK.”

Teysha Technologies was established to solve the problems surrounding the production and use of plastics. In partnership with Texas A&M University, Teysha have developed novel second generation bioplastics based on sugar polycarbonates. Now, Teysha is extending its commercial operations to the UK where it is establishing a laboratory facility and a relationship with the NIAB.

The NIAB Group is the UK’s fastest-growing crop science organisation, addressing the challenges of food security, climate change and sustainable development in agriculture. The group works with local and national businesses at the hub to carry out commercial scale pilot studies that aid the development of the agricultural and horticultural industries in the UK.

To find out more about Teysha Technologies and its research into tuneable biodegradable biopolymers, visit the Teysha Technologies website.

Masking plastic pollution – How single-use masks are impacting the environment

Masking plastic pollution – How single-use masks are impacting the environment 1000 667 Packaging News

3.4 billion disposable face masks were discarded each day at the start of 2021, according to a study by Benson, Bassey and Palanisami. While a proven safety measure for protecting public health, we must address the environmental impact of facial coverings. Here Dr Ashlee Jahnke, director of research at biodegradable biopolymer research platform Teysha Technologies, discusses the issues surrounding single-use face masks.

Imports of face masks into the European Union (EU) have more than doubled since the start of the pandemic, according to a report by the European Environment Agency (EEA). The general consensus among medical organisations and the scientific community is that masks help to limit the spread of respiratory viruses like COVID-19. One study, looking into secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2, found that face masks were 79 per cent effective in preventing transmission.

However, while masks have proven effective at limiting the spread of COVID, they could be causing damage elsewhere. The EEA’s report also finds that an uptake in disposable mask wearing has led to an increase in littering, which can harm wildlife and contribute to the spread of microplastics.

Microplastics, major problem
Wearing masks is incredibly important in helping stop the spread of contagions. However, public health does not have to come at the expense of plastic pollution. The release of microparticles and heavy metals into the environment is one of the greatest risks disposable masks pose.

Disposable medical masks are produced from polymers such as polypropylene and polycarbonate to create three protective layers. The inner layer is made up of soft fibres, the middle layer has a melt-blow filter and the outer layer uses dyed, nonwoven fibres that are water-resistant to create a barrier against droplets.

When these masks begin to degrade, over time or through contact with water, they release microplastic fibres. These fibres are under five millimetres in size and can be ingested by humans and other forms of wildlife. Human consumption of microplastics can lead to issues such as oxidative stress, immunotoxicity and metabolic disturbances. Currently, the full extent of microplastic exposure to humans remains unknown.

The future is bioplastics
19 billion face masks are incinerated in the UK each year. The rest end up in landfills, or are littered across our streets. While some businesses have started reusing plastics to create personal protective equipment (PPE), UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stated that recycling materials “is not the answer” as it justifies overproduction and encourages the “industrial addiction” to plastic.

Other solutions include making reusable masks from materials such as cotton. However, there is an argument that these masks do not offer the same level of protection as medical grade options. Priorities need to be devised, handling the pandemic and stopping its spread is the most important thing at the moment. But in the long term, as mask wearing becomes the norm, there needs to be a full investigation into the impact of disposable masks.

The 2019 directive agreed by EU states and Norway to restrict single-use plastics from being produced and sold in the EU came into effect in July 2021. As more anti-plastic legislation is passed around the world, we could see further interest and investment in the bioplastics industry.

Some bioplastic companies, like Teysha Technologies, are going further than developing a single polymer system through investment and working with world leading research scientists.

Teysha’s unique IP is a platform technology that uses sustainable feedstocks in the form of various modified natural-product monomers and co-monomers to generate polycarbonate material. A key feature of this platform is that the material’s physical, chemical and mechanical properties can be tuned. One example of this is developing a system where the main mechanism of polymer degradation is water driven. This allows for the formation of a wide variety of final products with multiple applications.

This technology allows us to remain agile and responsive to unanticipated product demands, such as the sudden need for billions of disposable masks caused by the global pandemic.

Continued use of face-masks is incredibly important to limit the spread of respiratory viruses. However, we must push for further research and development into face-masks if we want to protect the planet as well as public health.

Masking plastic pollution

Masking plastic pollution 1000 667 Automation Update

~ How single-use masks are impacting the environment ~

3.4 billion disposable face masks were discarded each day at the start of 2021, according to a study by Benson, Bassey and Palanisami. While a proven safety measure for protecting public health, we must address the environmental impact of facial coverings. Here Dr Ashlee Jahnke, director of research at biodegradable biopolymer research platform Teysha Technologies, discusses the issues surrounding single-use face masks.

Imports of face masks into the European Union (EU) have more than doubled since the start of the pandemic, according to a report by the European Environment Agency (EEA). The general consensus among medical organisations and the scientific community is that masks help to limit the spread of respiratory viruses like COVID-19. One study, looking into secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2, found that face masks were 79 per cent effective in preventing transmission.

However, while masks have proven effective at limiting the spread of COVID, they could be causing damage elsewhere. The EEA’s report also finds that an uptake in disposable mask wearing has led to an increase in littering, which can harm wildlife and contribute to the spread of microplastics.

Microplastics, major problem

Wearing masks is incredibly important in helping stop the spread of contagions. However, public health does not have to come at the expense of plastic pollution. The release of microparticles and heavy metals into the environment is one of the greatest risks disposable masks pose.

Disposable medical masks are produced from polymers such as polypropylene and polycarbonate to create three protective layers. The inner layer is made up of soft fibres, the middle layer has a melt-blow filter and the outer layer uses dyed, nonwoven fibres that are water-resistant to create a barrier against droplets.

When these masks begin to degrade, over time or through contact with water, they release microplastic fibres. These fibres are under five millimetres in size and can be ingested by humans and other forms of wildlife. Human consumption of microplastics can lead to issues such as oxidative stress, immunotoxicity and metabolic disturbances. Currently, the full extent of microplastic exposure to humans remains unknown.

The future is bioplastics

19 billion face masks are incinerated in the UK each year. The rest end up in landfills, or are littered across our streets. While some businesses have started reusing plastics to create personal protective equipment (PPE), UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stated that recycling materials “is not the answer” as it justifies overproduction and encourages the “industrial addiction” to plastic.

Other solutions include making reusable masks from materials such as cotton. However, there is an argument that these masks do not offer the same level of protection as medical grade options. Priorities need to be devised, handling the pandemic and stopping its spread is the most important thing at the moment. But in the long term, as mask wearing becomes the norm, there needs to be a full investigation into the impact of disposable masks.

The 2019 directive agreed by EU states and Norway to restrict single-use plastics from being produced and sold in the EU came into effect in July 2021. As more anti-plastic legislation is passed around the world, we could see further interest and investment in the bioplastics industry.

Some bioplastic companies, like Teysha Technologies, are going further than developing a single polymer system through investment and working with world leading research scientists.

Teysha’s unique IP is a platform technology that uses sustainable feedstocks in the form of various modified natural-product monomers and co-monomers to generate polycarbonate material. A key feature of this platform is that the material’s physical, chemical and mechanical properties can be tuned. One example of this is developing a system where the main mechanism of polymer degradation is water driven. This allows for the formation of a wide variety of final products with multiple applications.

This technology allows us to remain agile and responsive to unanticipated product demands, such as the sudden need for billions of disposable masks caused by the global pandemic.

Continued use of face-masks is incredibly important to limit the spread of respiratory viruses. However, we must push for further research and development into face-masks if we want to protect the planet as well as public health.

To find out more about Teysha Technologies and its research into customisable, biodegradable biopolymers, visit the Teysha Technologies website.

Raving in the rubbish

Raving in the rubbish 1920 1440 Packaging Scotland

Fields littered with abandoned tents and plastic bags, bottles and containers. These are the images people often see on the TV after a large music festival. An estimated 23,500 tonnes of waste is left by UK festival goers each year according to think-tank Powerful Thinking. That’s more than double the weight of the Eiffel Tower. Here, Duncan Clark, head of operations at biodegradable biopolymer research platform Teysha Technologies, explains some of the best solutions for festival organisers to minimise their plastic problem.

for many, the return of events like Reading Festival will be a blessing after a long period of isolation during the global pandemic. However, many people are waiting in trepidation for the scenes of fields covered with discarded plastic waste that have been a regular occurrence since the iconic Woodstock Music and Art fair in 1969.

However, music festivals don’t have to be synonymous with mass littering and festival organisers are trying to change this stereotype. For example, Glastonbury, which produces around 2,000 tonnes of waste per year, has required attendees to adhere to the Glastonbury Green Pledge since 2019. Single-use plastic bottles were no longer available, and attendees were encouraged to refill their water bottles for free at water taps. While this is a step in the right direction, there is still so much more that music festival can do to limit their plastic waste.

Go a step further

Firstly, it’s not enough to just ban the sale of single-use plastic bottles. This needs to be extended to all areas of packaging supplied by festivals. Sustainable products are increasing and many events are currently utilising them, music festivals must do the same. From food and drink packaging to small plastic trinkets, limiting the amount of traditional plastic allowed will see a direct decrease in plastic waste.

Secondly, music festivals should encourage attendees to make sustainable choices. Every year more than 250,000 tents are abandoned at music festivals in the UK. Though some may be salvaged and given to those in need, this only pushes the plastic problem onto another location when the cheap tents eventually become unusable.

If music festivals were to offer attendees eco-friendly alternatives to the main culprits of waste, the problems would lessen. Teysha has developed a unique polycarbonate platform from renewable resources that can be customised for a multitude of applications. These products can even undergo selective degradation into non-harmful substances, a good solution if attendees continue to litter.

Festivals can encourage visitors to purchase products made from these alternative materials through festival branding or endorsement from performing artists on stage and social media. Encouraging a change in attendee behaviour is just as important as providing greener alternatives.

Finally, festivals need to start investing more heavily in sustainability schemes. Eco-friendly materials, like biodegradable biopolymers, are only able to compete with the traditional petroleum-based plastic industry with funding. Contributions will not only fund further developments in how to make products more durable and user friendly, but they also make a statement of solidarity in progressing towards green technology. The more events push towards sustainable products, the more options they will begin to see.

Funding biopolymer research is better than fracking

Funding biopolymer research is better than fracking 638 425 Pollution Solutions Online

For the first time ever, the Plastic Waste Makers Index has reported that 55 per cent of the world’s plastic waste is produced by just 20 companies. While the report stimulates the necessary ‘name and shame’ conversations, it’s now time for the most influential businesses to take responsibility for driving the climate crisis. Here, Duncan Clark, head of operations at biopolycarbonate research platform Teysha Technologies, discusses how investing in biodegradable polymer alternatives could lead to the termination of single-use plastics for good.

National Geographic estimates that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, spanning from the west coast of North America to Japan, is comprised of 1.8 trillion plastic pieces. If the report by the Plastic Waste Makers Index is to be believed, just 20 companies could be responsible for more than half of this debris.

While oil and gas giants, like ExxonMobil and Sinopec, each produce more than five per cent of single-use plastics, financiers such as Barclays Bank and HSBC are being held accountable for lending more than $3.1 billion each to virgin polymer producers.

If these companies are to take responsibility for their huge plastic waste footprints, they need to start investing in the search for cheaper, durable and truly sustainable alternatives. But how can this be achieved?

Digging for liquid gold

We know that plastic is damaging our environment. So, why do we still produce it? Firstly, it’s durability, malleability and low-cost mean it’s convenient for use in a variety of consumer and industrial products. What’s less considered is its inability to degrade naturally or within a reasonable timeframe without the help of energy-intensive, greenhouse gas-producing industrial catalysts, or without releasing harmful chemical pollutants into the environment.
In fact, every stage in the lifecycle of plastic contributes significantly to the climate crisis. Fracking, for example, leaks thousands of tonnes of harmful gases into the atmosphere every day. National Geographic estimates that 540,000 tonnes of methane per year is produced in the North Texas Barnett Shale region alone, which is the equivalent of 46 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. What’s more, fracking drills often must invasively dig up to 5,000 feet underground using explosive charges to puncture holes in Earth’s shale layer.

Currently, only 14 per cent of oil fracked globally is used to make plastic. But our increased reliance on this material over the next few decades will undeniably increase the need for these destructive activities. Therefore, the solution for these companies is not to dig a little deeper, but rather switch the focus to creating a biodegradable, sustainable polymer with the strength and convenience of traditional plastic.

Financing future research, not fracking

If researchers were given just half of the funding granted by the world’s biggest banks, we’d be a lot further along in the transition to zero-waste plastic.  Despite this, research into developing biodegradable biopolymers is continuing to yield promising results, with companies like Teysha Technologies making landmark breakthroughs in viable plastic substitutes.

Teysha have developed a plug-and-play platform where various modified natural-product monomers, co-monomers and additives can be combined to create versatile, tuneable materials akin to traditional plastic. Because platforms like these use a variety of natural components, everything from strength to thermal stability and degradation rates can be carefully controlled according to the application.

Most petrochemical-derived polycarbonates achieve their versatility through control of molar mass, crystallinity and blending with other potentially toxic petrochemicals. The resulting materials can persist in the environment for more than 450 years, causing irreparable damage to organisms and their ecosystems. By diverting funding away from the production of virgin plastics and towards biodegradable biopolymer production, it may be possible to reverse the climate crisis.

Leading this change should be the companies identified in the Plastic Waste Makers Index report. If each one were to silence their drills and direct their attention to the search for sustainable plastics, a healthier, greener carbon-neutral world may just be possible.

The solution to plastic pollution

The solution to plastic pollution 1536 727 Engineering Update

~ Looking at the impact of each stage in the plastic lifecycle ~

“People and the planet are only as healthy as the ecosystems we depend on.” This is a statement to encourage ecosystem restoration published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). But ecosystem restoration is more than a pathway to achieving climate goals. Here Duncan Clark, head of operations at biopolymer researcher Teysha Technologies, explains how we can take steps in restoring ecosystems by terminating the use of Earth’s biggest polluter, plastic.

The WWF describes plastic pollution as one of the most visible symptoms of the environmental crisis, damaging natural habitats and threatening wildlife. In fact, the Geneva Environment Network estimates that the cumulative production of plastic surpassed eight billion metric tons worldwide in 2020 and is expected to increase in the coming decades.

The images we see in the media of litter-strewn beaches and marine life tangled up in single-use plastic bags are powerful conversation starters, but they don’t represent the entire problem. Plastic is harmful from the point of manufacture and even with more robust recycling policies, the plastic crisis will persist into the future if we can’t source a sustainable alternative.

To understand the extent of this issue, we must dig deeper into how plastic is produced.

Plastic’s ugly truths

Most plastic production requires a core ingredient: crude oil dug deep from the Earth’s crust. The seismic vibrations caused by oil extraction is enough to disrupt some habitats. But when you factor in the threat of oil spills and the infrastructure needed to transport resources in-land, thousands of species have been displaced to accommodate demand for crude oil.

It may not seem much, but five per cent of all global crude oil extracted is used for the manufacturing of plastics. This actually equates to approximately 35m barrels per year.

Plastic production is also extremely energy intensive, consuming 2000 times the amount of energy it takes to treat and distribute tap water. It also generates harmful pollutants that damage the Earth’s atmosphere and leach into our land and water systems.

The carbon emissions from producing plastic are threatening thousands of species who are struggling to adapt to rapidly changing environmental temperatures. National Public Radio (NPR) estimates that carbon emissions from plastic production could amount to 56 gigatons between now and 2050.

Finally, the products made from plastic pose an even bigger threat to our ecosystems. One single-use plastic bottle, whose contents may take minutes to consume, will persist in the environment anywhere from 450 years to several thousand years.

The result is that there are now some 80,000 tonnes of plastic — the equivalent weight of 500 jumbo jets — in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch alone, according to The Ocean Clean Up. Once broken down into microplastic particles, these are consumed by marine life, only to work their way back through the food chain and end up on our plates.

The evidence is clear that plastic is a cause for concern, but it’s convenience cannot be understated. The good news is that there is now a viable alternative that means we can feasibly outlaw traditional plastic for good.

Solving the polymer puzzle

Teysha Technologies has developed a polymer platform using sustainable feedstocks to generate Earth-friendly polycarbonate materials. This plug-and-play system incorporates natural monomers and co-monomers, rather than hydrocarbons from crude oil, formulated from starches or agricultural waste.

A major benefit of this is that the resulting material’s physical, mechanical and chemical properties can be tuned to fit specific applications. Even the polycarbonate’s degradation rates are tuneable. Food packaging, for example, is often disposed of after a single use, so it could be tuned to break down quicker in an environment with sufficient moisture.

A common problem with traditional bioplastics, despite being composed of ‘greener’ materials, is that they still need industrial catalysts and the right microbial conditions to degrade. Most countries simply don’t have the infrastructure to facilitate this.

By considering the impact of each stage in the lifecycle of plastic on ecosystems, we can start to transition from petrochemical-based plastics towards truly natural, harmless materials. To find out more, visit Teysha Technologies’ website.

Teysha Technologies Discovered a Breakthrough Against Plastic Pollution

Teysha Technologies Discovered a Breakthrough Against Plastic Pollution 900 599 developer

UK company Teysha Technologies have developed an entirely unique technology platform for the production of an organic-based, plastic substitute with almost unlimited market applications.

Teysha’s investment team has been lead by Matthew Stone, one of the UK’s most prolific technology VC’s, alongside well-established industry figures such as ex Degussa Vice President Clive Rankin, and leading biopolymer scientists including Professor Karen Woolley of Texas A&M. The company insists that its AggiePol® technology stands alone as a renewable, biodegradable plastic substitute that is tunable to multiple short and long-term applications at a competitive price point. The company also claims that by being fully biodegradable and made from feedstock derived from plant waste and not traditional petrochemicals, it removes the environmental impact to the earth, rivers and oceans, reports of which have been so prevalent in the news recently after UK environment minister Michael Gove’s reaction on Twitter to the BBC’s Blue Planet 2 series.

The European Commission’s lawmakers recently announced plans to ban a range of plastic items, including single-use plates, straws and cutlery by 2021 with new rules that mark increasingly ambitious efforts by governments to reduce marine pollution. European officials said the move was also part of a broader strategy to create a market for recycled plastics and spur investment in new types of packaging in the bloc. The EU move is the latest in a series of similar policies which have been implemented by governments across the world as concerns have grown over plastics polluting oceans, damaging marine wildlife and infecting our food chain.

Teysha’s technology, which the company also asserts has low cost of raw materials, is fully compatible with existing production methods, and slots easily into current manufacturing facilities. Company founder and Managing Director Matthew Stone further states that “Market conditions and Government policy are now perfectly aligned for Teysha Technologies, with countries from all corners of the globe pledging to tackle plastic pollution and clean up the world’s lands, rivers and oceans. What is unique about our technology is that it can be tuned to hundreds of applications and it can break down in the natural environment with no negative impact to animals, plants or the surrounding ecosystem, making it objectively non-harmful. We do not expose further carbon stores on the front end as we do not use fossil fuels as a raw material, and we produce only natural by-products on the back-end, as it biodegrades.

Existing organic plastic substitutes are inhibited by limited usability, or the need to be treated in specific conditions to biodegrade. Teysha’s technology has none of these inhibitors, and can for the first time genuinely provide a realistic alternative to one of the biggest environmental challenges of a generation. Our manufacturing compatibility, product versatility, and end-point degradability, provide us with a technology that has the potential to change our lives, and those of future generations.”

The ground-breaking technology itself is designed to act as a base platform where various modified natural product monomers and thiol co-monomers are used, rather than being a single polymer system. This “tunability” of the technology will allow for the manufacture of a wide variety of final products; from medical implants and vehicle moulding to food packaging even cladding for building construction. The final biopolymers can be engineered to be hard and resistant or soft and malleable, all of which can be directly applied to existing plant machinery with low capital cost.

The company which is headquartered in West London is currently raising A-round finance under the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), going through optimisation and scale up, with sports fishing lures already sub-licenced for commercial markets, and will move towards the launch of full-scale production for broader markets shortly.

SIRIM Bioplastics Pilot Plant, Malaysia

SIRIM Bioplastics Pilot Plant, Malaysia 600 400 developer

The government-owned research technology company SIRIM has built a first-of-its-kind pilot plant in Malaysia to convert palm oil into versatile biodegradable plastic materials. The facility is situated in Shah Alam, Selangor state. It is a fully automated plant and produces various types of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs).

The pilot plant, which is installed at the Jalan Beremban facility of SIRIM in Shah Alam, became operational in July 2011. It uses palm oil mill effluent (POME) and crude palm kernel oil as feedstock to produce 2,000L of different PHA materials. The palm oil-based plastics are expected to become an alternative to the non-biodegradable petroleum-based plastics in the country.

The facility was designed and built jointly by SIRIM Berhad, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).

SIRIM background

Palm is the most prominent agricultural industry in Malaysia and is grown in about 4.7 million hectares of land across the country. About 600,000 people depend on the crop, producing about 70Mtpa. There are about 430 palm mills and the crop accounts for about $15bn in exports (2010). It is available throughout the year as a result of both high rainfall and sunlight.

The country is also home to one of the largest palm oil industry-based agricultural waste producers. The lignocellulosic palm wastes are converted to biomethane and biomass. However, about 24Mt of POME wastes sent to ponds pollute the underground water resources.

“The SIRIM pilot plant uses palm oil mill effluent and crude palm kernel oil to produce 2,000L of different PHA materials.”

Technological development and finance

In 2006, SIRIM researchers demonstrated that the POME could be fermented, extracted and converted into organic acids to produce polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) polyesters. The research was carried out in two phases led by the SIRIM researchers. MIT provided the cloning for PHA biosynthesis genes.

The Malaysia Palm Oil Board, the University Malaya, UPM, USM and SIRIM received MYR2.85m ($0.9m) funding for the first phase of research under the Intensification of Research in Priority Areas (IRPA) programme. The first phase involved R&D of the PHA biosynthesis process and recovery processes, materials and product testing, and product applications.

“Palm is the most prominent agricultural industry in Malaysia; there are 430 palm mills and the crop accounts for about $15bn a year in exports.”

The study was conducted with MYR21m ($6.7m) financial support from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation under the Technofound Programme. This phase involved the optimisation and integration of the manufacturing process and establishment of the pilot plant. The pilot plant represents one tenth of the industrial scale facility. It will enable the researchers to further improve and optimise the processes through data collection, and mitigate risks.

SIRIM bioreactors

The SIRIM bioplastics project has integrated production processes and bioreactor facilities designed and fabricated indigenously. The pilot scale plant is based on SIRIM bioreactor technology. The sealed bioreactor vessels have foam sensors, a sparging system and mirror-polished 0.5µm finish interiors for precise environmental control. The sparging system enhances oxygenation and the foam sensor detects unwanted bubbles to accelerate the entire fermentation process.

The bioreactors are designed to allow scaling up to the capacities of between 10L and 2,000L, depending on specific requirements. The process also has the flexibility of total or semi-automated operations. Technical specifications of the bioreactors include the use of SS316 food grade stainless steel materials, coil or jacketed type cooling and heating systems, Rusthon turbine mixers, 415V 3-phase AC power, centralised and individual process control systems, Department of Occupational Safety and Health-approved mechanical seal systems, and a pressure vessel.

SIRIM process technology

The bioreactor system uses microorganisms for the production of bioplastics and other renewable sources. It also facilitates multipurpose anaerobic and aerobic bioreactions to produce organic acids such as caramelor and vinegar.

“The value of the global bioplastics market is expected to reach about $10bn by 2020 and account for 30% of total plastic demand.”

The technology provides precise and stringent environmental control of acidity, oxygen, temperature and pressure inside the bioreactor to facilitate the bacterial fermentation process. The process optimises both raw materials and productivity for efficient production of linear polyesters. It also avoids contamination and produces better outputs, thereby reducing the overall production costs.

Bioplastics market growth

The use of non-toxic bioplastics is increasing in the medical, packaging, food, toys, textile and horticulture industries. There are also plans to use them in the electronic and automotive industries. The value of the global bioplastics market is expected to reach about MYR30.3bn ($10bn) by 2020 as a result of consumer preferences and environmental concerns. It currently accounts for about 15% of the total plastic demand and this is expected to rise to 30% by 2020.

Biodegradable plastic produced from sugar cane is expected to cost about MYR28 ($9.47) per kg, while that produced from palm kernel oil is about MYR7 ($2.36) per kg. The cheaper costs are credited to palm oil wastes.

Source: Chemicals Technology

Oil’s Dream to Grow in Plastics Dims as Coke Turns to Plants

Oil’s Dream to Grow in Plastics Dims as Coke Turns to Plants 960 583 developer

By Anna Hirtenstein

Companies that make packaging from plants instead of fossil fuels are starting to challenge the oil industry’s ambition to increase the supply of raw materials for plastics.

Use of bioplastics made from sugar cane, wood and corn will grow at least 50 percent in the next five years, according to the European Bioplastics Association in Berlin, whose members include Cargill Inc. and Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp. German chemical giant BASF SE and the Finnish paper maker Stora Enso Oyj have stepped into the business to meet demand from the likes of Coca-Cola Co. to Lego A/S.

“Biochemicals and bioplastics could erode a portion of oil demand, much like recycling can erode overall virgin plastics demand,” said Pieterjan Van Uytvanck, a senior consultant at Wood Mackenzie, a research group focused on the oil industry. “Provided the challenges facing biomass today are overcome, it will become a larger portion of the supply.”

Moviegoers famously learned in the 1967 film “The Graduate” that “there’s a great future in plastics.” Oil companies make ethylene and other basic building blocks for plastic. They’ve been eyeing that market for growth as electric cars threaten to trim demand for gasoline.

Plastic material’s ubiquity in packaging has left the world literally swimming in disused bottles, bags and wraps. That’s starting to worry both environmentalists and the companies that use it the most. There’ll be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and those materials are finding their way into the food chain.

Bioplastics currently make up about 1 percent of the plastics market, according the industry’s organization in Europe. They are made by processing sugars from plants and tend to have a smaller carbon footprint than their conventional counterparts. Some are also designed to naturally degrade after use. Top producers include Sao Paulo-based Braskem SA, NatureWorks LLC in the U.S. and Novamont SpA of Italy.

“Attitudes are evolving,” said David Eyton, the head of technology at BP Plc. “The question that faces the petrochemicals industry that has yet to really be answered is, ‘How are people going to deal with some of the environmental impacts of petrochemicals? Particularly plastics, which are a growing concern.’”

The International Energy Agency forecasts that growth in the plastics market should boost petroleum demand. It takes about 8.5 barrels of oil-derived naphtha to produce the a ton of ethylene needed to manufacture 160,000 plastic bags, according to Bloomberg Intelligence calculations.

“Petrochemicals will take center stage in driving oil demand,” said IEA analyst Tae-Yoon Kim. “This is why oil majors are very much focusing on petrochemicals.”

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Total SA are expanding their plastic footprints, according to the IEA.

“We’re expecting petrochemicals to grow 4 percent per year,” said Ahmad Al Khowaiter, chief technology officer at Saudi Aramco. “That’s an opportunity we’re really trying to leverage.”

The new technology will have to compete against massive refineries that convert hundreds of thousands of barrels of every day into plastics.

“Alternative raw materials must be competitive,” Stora Enso’s Chief Financial Officer Seppo Parvi said in an interview in London, anticipating eventual price parity with crude plastics. “I’m confident we’ll be able to do it.”

Demand for bioplastics also needs to grow among retailers and consumers, according to Coke.

“It won’t ever work if there’s just one big consumer company like a Coca-Cola trying to drive suppliers,” said Ben Jordan, head of environmental policy at Coca-Cola. “You need more demand out there in industry.”

Source: Bloomberg

Theresa May proposes plastic-free supermarket aisles in green strategy

Theresa May proposes plastic-free supermarket aisles in green strategy 620 372 developer

PM to declare war on scourge of plastic waste as she unveils much-heralded 25-year environmental plan

Theresa May is to announce a war on plastic waste, with proposed policies including plastics-free aisles in supermarkets and a tax on takeaway containers.

The prime minister will set out her ambition to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste within 25 years in a major speech on Thursday in which she will promise the UK will lead internationally on environmental issues. But campaign groups said the aspirations would need to be backed up by legislation.

They also warned that leaving the EU risked weakening environmental protections, and called for the government to promise it would not water down green standards in exchange for rapid post-Brexit trade deals.

May’s speech, unveiling a much-heralded 25-year plan for the environment in England, drawn up by Michael Gove’s environment department with input from pressure groups, is expected to focus heavily on plastic waste, which she calls “one of the great environmental scourges of our time”.

As reported before the speech, May will promise to extend the hugely successful 5p levy on plastic bags to smaller shops, and seek evidence on a possible charge on single-use plastic containers such as takeaway boxes.

Other promised initiatives include a plan to urge supermarkets to introduce aisles without any plastic packaging, where all food is sold loose, along with new research funding for “plastics innovation” and aid to help developing nations deal with their plastic waste.

In extracts of her speech released in advance by Downing Street, May said: “In years to come, I think people will be shocked at how today we allow so much plastic to be produced needlessly.”

Much of this waste ends up in waterways and oceans, May will say, with one in three fish caught in the Channel containing pieces of plastic.

“This truly is one of the great environmental scourges of our time,” she will say. “Today I can confirm that the UK will demonstrate global leadership. We must reduce the demand for plastic, reduce the number of plastics in circulation and improve our recycling rates.”

Greenpeace said the announcements on plastics were “a missed opportunity”, with a particular omission being no plans for a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles, which the group said was shown to work well.

Sue Hayman, the shadow environment secretary, said the 5p bag charge was already in place for smaller shops in Scotland and Wales, meaning the government was “simply playing catch-up”.

The overall plan was “a cynical attempt at rebranding the Tories’ image and appears to contain only weak proposals”, she said.

The wider 25-year plan, with the stated aim of ensuring the current generation is the first to leave the natural world in a better state than it was before, will also be published on Thursday.

Environmental groups were shown the plan before the speech, and it is understood some felt it remained vague in sections. For example there is a chapter on holding the government to account on its green record, but it is not clear how this will happen.

It is also understood that one section of the plan, on how to make planning and development more environmentally friendly and protect the green belt, remained blank in the copies, possibly because it had not been finalised.

The chief executive of Friends of the Earth, Craig Bennett, said the government’s record on green issues such as air quality and fracking meant he was sceptical about its future ambitions.

“It’s easy to make lots of commitments about things that will be done when you’re no longer in office,” he said. “And the point is, if you look at the government’s performance on some key issues over the last year, there’s some real reasons to be concerned.”

Ben Stafford, the campaigns director of the conservation group WWF, said: “It will be a question of what are the delivery mechanisms set out in the plan.

“We would say that you need more comprehensive and ambitious legislation with far-reaching targets if you’re going to get into a position where you’re actually improving the environment in the longer term. It’s a very good question as to whether they’ve got the commitment to do that.”

It was vital that Brexit did not lead to any deterioration in standards, he added. “We would expect that future trade policies need to have the environment at their heart. These should be embedding high environmental standards and not trading them off for any sort of competitive advantage.”

In her speech, May is to announce a plan to use the Commonwealth heads of government summit in April to push for a charter across member states to reduce the amount of plastic waste in oceans.

Stafford said that with the UK a “relatively small contributor” to plastic waste by global standards compared with the likes of India and Sri Lanka, this sort of action in the wake of Brexit was likely to be crucial.

“We and others have welcomed the statements Michael Gove has made as environment secretary, but the real test will come in what we hear tomorrow, and the sense of what kind of leadership the UK is going to give on the world stage and through trade policy,” he said.

Source: The Guardian