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Plastics

Technology Type Group:

Bioplastics have much in common with conventional plastics. Two main characteristics separate bioplastics from conventional plastics: 1) The use of renewable biomass materials in the manufacture of bioplastics. Bioplastics are manufactured from sources such as starch and vegetable oil rather than fossil fuel based plastics which are derived from petroleum. 2) the biodegradability and compostability of bioplastics. Some, but not all, bioplastics are biodegradable or compostable. The aim of the bioplastics industry is to close the production loop, mimicking nature's example (as indicated in the introduction image). Introduction== Most biodegradable bioplastics are used for disposable items such as packaging or organic waste bags. Nondisposable applications include items such as mobile phone casings, carpet fibres and car interiors. In these areas, the goal is not biodegradability, but to create items from sustainable resources.

Initial research into bioplastics started several decades ago. Novel biodegradable bioplastic products have been on the market in Europe for about a decade (European Bioplastics, no date). Mostly, these products are compostable biowaste bags and loose fill. The expansion of production plants for bioplastics resulted in the dynamic development of the market for packaging film since around 2002 (European Bioplastics, no date).

Feasibility of technology and operational necessities

Like with conventional plastics, the application spectrum of bioplastics is very broad. Several applications have already established themselves successfully in important markets. Figure 2 shows several segments of the economy in which bioplastics have already successfully been established. Many of these bioplastic products are being used in areas where compostability is a significant benefit. Commercial success occurs above all when the particular properties can be transformed into useful product functionality and added value (European Bioplastics, no date).

In 2007, global production capacity of bioplastics was estimated to be 0.36 Mt (million metric tonnes), and constituted approx. 0.3 % of the worldwide production of all plastics (PRO-BIB, 2009). Current worldwide production of plastics is dominated by petrochemical plastics. However, the bioplastic market has been experiencing dramatic growth: from 2003 to 2007 the average global growth was 38 % (PRO-BIP, 2009). In Europe, the market even grew with 48 % over the same period (PRO-BIP, 2009).

According to the PRO-BIP study the bioplastics industry is at the beginning of the S-shaped learning curve. Although newly constructed plants are still small, they are rapidly increasing in size. Therefore, it will not be long until turn-key plants with production capacity similar to conventional plastic production plants will be commercially available (PRO-BIP, 2009).

Status of the technology and its future market potential

The total technical substitution potential of bioplastics is estimated to be 270 Mt, or 90 % of the total polymers that were consumed in 2007 (PRO-BIP, 2009). However, it will not be possible to exploit this potential in the short to medium term, according to the study, because of economic barriers, technical scale up challenges and the need for time for the industry to adapt to the new plastics (PRO-BIP, 2009). But the authors of the PRO-BIP study stress that the potential of bioplastics is very large, and that future developments might increase the potential.

Current status of the technology of bioplastics is illustrated in figure 3. It can be seen that the sector is characterized by high growth and strong diversification among different bioplastics. Number of materials, applications and products, number of manufacturers, converters and end users has increased considerably over the last years. In addition, significant financial investments have been made into production and marketing and are expected to be made in the years to come.

How the technology could contribute to socio-economic development and environmental protection

From a geographic point of view, the U.S. and Europe are leading in the bioplastics production (See Figure 4). However, the geographic distribution has changed to a more balanced distribution among the world regions (PRO-BIP, 2009). For instance, the U.S. share of production decreased from 84 % in 2003 to 33 % in 2007. Europe's share increased over the same period from 15 % to 36 %. The Asia-Pacific region and South America have upcoming markets. This development is illustrated in figure 4.

. Based on company announcements, the geograhic distribution is expected to further balance out over the regions of the world (PRO-BIP, 2009). Figure 5 illustrates the estimated geograhic distribution per world region in 2020 based on the company announcements (PRO-BIP, 2009). A long and sustained growth trajectory of production and demand for plastics is expected in the developing world (PRO-BIP, 2009).

Next to the advantages of conventional plastic (such as being lightweight and multifunctional) bioplastics have certain other advantages that can contribute to socio-economic development and environmental protection. Because bioplastics are made from renewable resources the use of fossil resources is limited. In addition, the biodegradable aspect of some of the bioplastics can be useful in developing countries with arid conditions where the soil lacks humus. Composting the plastics would provide fertiliser and substrate to improve the soil quality (European bioplastics, no date). Moreover, the biodegradability of bioplastics reduces the stress on landfills.==Climate== Currently, no CDM projects have been registered by the CDM Executive Board that address the shift from the production of conventional plastics to bioplastics. As noted, such a shift would prevent the emissions of GHG as bioplastics are produced from a renewable resource. As of July 2010, no CDM methodology exists that would support the shift in production from petrochemical based plastic production to bioplastics.

However, there are certain situations in which a project could potentially apply for CDM status. For instance, when the biomass used for the production of the bioplastics is derived from biomass waste streams the project would prevent GHG emissions as it prevents the biomass decay. The following methodology might be suitable in this situation: 'Avoided emissions from biomass wastes through use as feed stock in pulp and paper production or in bio-oil production --- Version 2.2'. This methodology assists in the calculation of the avoided emissions because of the prevention of the decay.

Financial requirements and costs

Because petrochemical based plastics have been developed and used extensively for over seventy years they are relatively cheap compared to bioplastivs. While there are a number of bioplastics with great potential, and unique features, to compete in a wide range of applications currently dominated by petrochemical based plastics, certain barriers still exist that prevent this from happening. Ideally, to compete, a bioplastics should be environmentally sustainable, inexpensive and functionally equivalent to conventional plastics. Usually bioplastics are both environmentally friendly and sustainable, but they are still relatively expensive and they can't replace petrochemical based plastics in some applications (Barker & Safford, 2009).

Currently, bioplastics are two to four times more expensive than conventional plastics (Barker & Safford, 2009). Barker and Safford identify several reasons for this: 1) there is a high cost for the plant production, 2) a high cost of the raw materials used, 3) the current smale scale of production doesn't provide economies of scale, and 4) the research and development costs of bioplastcs are high (Barker & Safford, 2009).

The price of conventional plastics is linked to the price trend of oil, as byproducts of the petroleum industry are key ingredients for production of plastic (Barker & Safford, 2009). Because bioplastics are based on another resource bioplastics are not linked to the fluctuating oil price. Bioplastics are therefore not accompanied by the high price volatility of oil. According to the European Bioplastics organization current economic competetiveness of bioplastics is restricted by high development costs and lack of economies of scale for mass production. Mass production of bioplastics is expected to increase economic competetiveness. As can be seen from figure 2, and from the statement that it is likely that bioplastics production is at the beginning of the S-curve, it seems likely that economies of scale will be reached in the near future. In addition, forecasts on the development of crude oil prices illustrate that rising oil prices will make use of renewable resources increasingly economical in the future (European Bioplastics, 2009).

References

  • Barker, M., & Safford, S., (2009). Industrial uses for crops: Markets for bioplastics. Project report 450: HGCA. Retrieved on 16 July 2010 from: [[1]]
  • European Bioplastics, no date. The association European Bioplastics, based in Berlin, website: [[2]]
Collection:

Plastics

  • Tal-Ya Water resources management

    Type: 
    Product
    Technology:

    Tal-Ya is a new Israeli company that develops innovative water saving solutions for row-crop agriculture vineyards forestry and the municipal gardening sectors. Collecting and using DEW together with more efficient use of irrigated water represents savings of up to 90% irrigated water. Square cover over a plant’s root system and the surrounding soil (replaces traditional plastic mulch) collects dew during the night and prevents evaporation during the day directing all water to one single point- the root system. Irrigated water is directed more efficiently to the right spot.

  • Comprehensive system solutions for water and fluid management

    Type: 
    Product
    Technology:

    BERMAD designs develops manufactures and markets state-of-the-art control valves and related products along with comprehensive system solutions for a range of water and fluid management needs for the Irrigation Landscape Fire Protection and Waterworks segments. BERMAD continues to develop manufacture and market a wide range of water and fluid control management products that are sought sold and serviced in nearly every country and every language. Some of these products include: 700 700ES 700EN 800 and 400 Series - Hydraulic diaphragm actuated control valves for multipurpose applications.

  • Municipal and Industrial Wastewater Treatment

    Type: 
    Product
    Technology:

    Rain-Tal specializes in unique solutions for arid and semi-arid climates where water savings is highly important in low volume irrigation for greenhouses orchards and open field agriculture. The company also produces unique Rotary Water Filters that are based on Regenerative Back-Flush cleaning thus no replacement of disposable filter element is ever required. Core technology is based on plastic injection. Most of the water spreading devices are Low Volume Irrigation products made for both surface and overhead irrigation.

  • Drinking water desalinatiom and chemical treatment

    Type: 
    Product
    Technology:

    Hakohav Valves is a valves specialist manufacturing Company (since 1963) with unique and high quality products. The valves use modern and unique production technologies like Vulcanization and various types of Coatings and linings including Glass Halar (ECTFE) Rubber Epoxy Rilsan (nylon 11) Plascoat (polyester) Plastic (ETFE PFA .etc) and Enamel.

  • Municipal plastic waste recycling

    Type: 
    Product
    Technology:

    Clariter is a clean-technology enterprise that controls proprietary rights to patent-protected technology which uses a chemical process that converts plastic waste into high-grade solvents lubricants and waxes. Clariter’s process can use nearly all types of polyolefin plastics in one mix. In most countries the majority of the plastics that are suitable for Clariter’s process are currently destined for landfills. Solid Waste and especially plastic waste is a major global challenge. The natural degradation of polyolefin plastics takes hundreds of years.

  • Irrigation amd Water Supply Systems

    Type: 
    Product
    Technology:

    NaanDan Jain’s extensive product range includes comprehensive irrigation and climate-control technologies for greenhouses and nurseries open fields orchards and plantations residential and landscape areas and industry. These technologies include a wide range of integrated round regular and pressure-compensated dripline systems thin wall dripline and tapes microand mini-sprinklers for climate control and irrigation diverse metal and plastic agricultural sprinklers as well as landscape applications incorporating gear and impact pop-up sprinklers.

  • Industrial waste and water transportation

    Type: 
    Product
    Technology:

    Golan Plastic Products specializes in the development production and distribution of PEXGOL Plastic pipes - advanced PEX A CROSS LINKED POLYETHILEN PIPE SYSTEMS. The company manufactures complete system of Cross Linked Polyethylene PEXGOL pipes and Fittings providing solutions for the mining industrial Infrastructure and construction sectors. Golan is the sole manufacturer in the world of PEX A pipes ranging from 200mm diameter up to 630mm. Golan Plastic pipes production process is supervised by international institutes and has the ISO-9001 certificate.

  • Biological treatment of wastewater

    Type: 
    Product
    Technology:

    Biomass plastic carriers which suspend in the water and have a high protected surface area for .growth of biomass and so provide an advanced process for biological wastewater treatment. Aqwise has executed several projects worldwide viz. Municipal WWTP for Altos Hornos in Monclova – Mexico Municipal WWTP in Marines - Valencia Spain Industrial WWTP in Europaper Tissue Mill - Italy Industrial WWTP in Campina Dairy - The Netherlands Industrial WWTP in Teva Pharmaceuticals Italy.

  • Analyzers and control systems for waste water treatment

    Type: 
    Product
    Technology:

    SAS designs manufactures and installs computers its infrastructures and interface accessories focused on water supply systems agriculture and greenhouses environment control fish farming controllers and sewage treatment plants for thousands of customers worldwide. SAS has developed a super-absorption polymer X-Oiler utilised for soil and water decontamination and we proceed with developing of new environmental targeted products and technologies based on our polymers. SAS has developed and produced an innovated plastic solar water heater for domestic uses.

  • Proportioning MixRite water injectors for Irrigation

    Type: 
    Product
    Technology:

    Tefen’s Research and Development department follows the latest innovations in plastics technology ensuring that customers benefit from quick and sound solutions. In recent years the focus has been on proportioning dosing: developing the MixRite range of injectors to inject functional additives into liquid medium system using a uniform repeating method. These innovations bringing significant advances to a wide range of industries have helped us to export 70% of our production to customers located all over the world.