Materials and technologies – January 2021

01 February 2021

Which biobased plastics are available and which new materials are forthcoming? The WUR booklet Biobased Plastics 2020 (1.46 MB) answers these questions. The Dutch version (1 MB) was published in 2019. The EC has published a Scientific Opinion on the Biodegradability of Plastics in the Open Environment (2.36 MB).
Together with other project partners, the University of Groningen (in Dutch) aims to find an efficient way to make bioplastic from sugar, so that the price will be comparable to that of plastic made from petroleum. New technology developed at VTT enables the use of pectin-containing agricultural waste, such as citrus peel and sugar beet pulp, as raw material for PEF-plastics to replace PET. Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) have used cucumber peels to develop food packaging material. University of Ljubljana researchers have developed packaging made from the invasive, non-native acacia. You can read more in a scientific paper (1.73 MB). Using a bacterial strain found in mangroves, Texas A&M researchers have uncovered a low-cost, sustainable method for producing bioplastics from sewage sludge and wastewater.
Researchers at the University of Akron have recently produced a prototype PLA cup that is transparent, super tough and does not shrink when filled with boiling water.

Biobased coatings
One of the aims of the CurCol project is the valorisation of biobased dyes in biodegradable packaging, focussing on the yellow natural colourant curcumin. Maastricht University is one of the partners. Fraunhofer IVV has given details of the role it is playing in the ECOFUNCO project looking at bio-based coating materials derived from common plants such as tomatoes and sunflowers.

Recycled plastic
Researchers from the University of Liverpool are leading a project that aims to improve PCR plastic so that more can be used to make HDPE bottles. A proposed ASTM International standard (WK74657) will aid in the identification of recycled polyethylene materials.

IATA researchers have patented an enzyme that reduces the use of chemical products for paper production. In a review article (389 kB) published in the Journal of Postharvest Technology, Indian Institute of Packaging researchers discuss paper and other pulp based materials for food packaging applications.

Smart packaging
In a paper (173 kB) published in the Izvestia Journal, researchers from the University of Economics - Varna discuss the benefits of intelligent (smart) packaging. In an overview article (1014 kB) published in Foods, University of Genoa researchers discuss innovations in smart packaging concepts for food. In an invited lecture (1.78 MB), Arif Ozcan from Marmara University discusses the same subject.

Prices for plastics
Dutch trade magazine Vraag en Aanbod publishes a weekly overview of the prices for plastics (in Dutch). The prices given are estimated averages between the gross prices published in the trade journals and the net prices.
The Polymers for Europe Alliance reports an alarming increase in issued Force Majeure declarations by numerous polymer producers towards the end of 2020.

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