The big difference in thinking between Europe and Japan over the potential of bio-sourced plastics was highlighted at the 8th Bioplastics conference in Frankfurt this week. In Europe, producers and sellers of bioplastics make compostability their key marketing message, effectively limiting appeal to packaging. But in Japan the focus is on sustainability and attention is increasingly placed on durable applications.
Sony senior eco-material engineer Hiroyuki Mori told delegates the electronics giant saw real potential in bioplastics to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to avoid oil consumption. “Compostability is not an issue for us as electronic products tend to be recycled,” he said.
Mori said Sony’s life cycle studies show that a PLA-based polymer could reduce GHG emissions by 20% and non-renewable resource input by 55% compared to ABS. Sony already has several small PLA-based components in the market, but Mori says the company needs better performing and a wider variety of bioplastics, available from more than one source.
The sustainability of non-compostable bioplastics was also highlighted by Arkema technical polymers business manager Thomas Grimaud. He told delegates its castor-oil derived Rilsan PA11 – which Fujitsu is considering using for PC components – provides a 47% reduction in CO2 emissions and 16% less fossil fuel than PA6,6.
However, producers of durable bioplastics face a key marketing challenge in Europe, according to Grimaud, in that there is no approved certification scheme. While the Japanese Organics Recycling Association has established recognition for certified biomass-based plastics, he said in Europe bioplastics certification is based exclusively on EN13432 compostability.
Grimaud told PRW.com that developing a bio-derived certification system for Europe should be a high priority for the sector. Bioplastics 2006 was organised by European Plastics News. It is the longest established independent conference focusing on development and commercialisation of bioplastics.
(Cf. news of 2006-12-08.)
Source: PRW.com Dec. 08, 2006.