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Chemical producer BASF has developed a compostable sugar-based bioplastic, ecovio®, that can be made into anything from agricultural film to compostable coffee capsules.
The use of plastic products has increased significantly in the recent past, with many enterprises joining the industry and many more varieties of plastics being made. Traditional plastic is made with chemical fillers that can be harmful to the environment when released when the plastic is melted down. However, Bioplastic are plastics derived from renewable biomass sources, such as vegetable fats and oils, corn starch, straw, woodchips, food waste which does not pose as a threat to the environment.
BASF’s bioplastic is a high-quality, completely compostable polymer. It consists of the biodegradable BASF polymer ecoflex and polylactic acid (PLA), which is derived from renewable resources based on sugar. The special thing about this material is that it's a mixture of biodegradable ecoflex from BASF and polylactic acid manufactured from renewable resources to produce a fully compostable plastic, which also consists partially of renewable raw materials. The polymer ecovio® has already been able to prove itself in applications such as organic waste bags and agricultural films. The first application for the injection molding grade ecovio® is now used for certified compostable coffee capsules and an aroma-tight outer packaging.
Coffee capsules produce a very large amount of residual waste, although coffee powder is actually a valuable fertilizer and compostable. When they use ecovio® for the capsule material, the capsules can be disposed of as bio-waste. It is important, however, for the material to fulfil the high barrier requirements for coffee packs, such as moisture, oxygen and aroma.
At present this can only be achieved with special compostable capsule packaging: however, research is already in progress into suitable solutions for the coffee capsule of the future. The capsule also has to withstand coffee brewing in high-pressure coffee machines, while still remaining fully compostable. They have achieved this and, through their research, have therefore contributed to reducing unnecessary waste.
So far the product has mainly been used as mulch film, shopping bags and bio waste bags. Another direction in which they are currently researching intensively involves compostable hot drink lids for paper cups, for which the cups are also coated with ecovio® instead of polyethylene.
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