BioPlastics Week: The Impact Globally Could Help Spur the Next Big Thing in Biobased Solutions for Everyday Products

Attis Innovations is proud to join the PLASTICS Industry Association in the celebration of Bioplastics Week.  PLASTICS has been spearheading the fact-driven public education of the bioplastics space for years, teaching manufacturers, OEMs, and consumers alike how to responsibly grow the industry.  This includes novel development of creative new solutions for the use of sustainable materials in everyday products, as well as regulating claims to protect the public from exposure to false claims, misleading information, and “snake oil”.

PLASTICS has asked several questions of the industry, including the following opinion-driven question:

According to @Reuters, Mexico’s booming bioplastics market is transforming tequila, avocado & corn into bags, plates & car parts. What do you think is the next BIG application for bioplastics?

Attis believes the next “BIG” application would require us to first reflect on the industry’s successes.  We would postulate that the growth of biobased PET for bottles is such a prohibitive volume leader, that replicating its success may be a bar too high for this conversation, as it would overlook some other tremendous, yet smaller-scale developments.

Additionally, the use of common, biobased materials such as linoleum, cellulose acetate and Nylon 11 are often overlooked, because of their long established presence in the market but none the less make a “BIG” contribution to the biobased economy.

Several fantastic recent success stories include:

  • PLA-based yogurt cups for Danone
  • Responsibly compostable mulch films made by companies such as Novamont and BASF
  • Soy-based polyol for PUR foams used in automotive seating
  • Algae-based foams by Algix/Bloom for use in footwear
  • Biobased HDPE made by Braskem, introduced into countless consumer products
  • Fully compostable coffee pods, led first by Club Coffee

Building on these types of successes, Attis is eager to partner with several enterprising ventures to convert many forms of biomass into a host of interesting products.  Using Attis’ novel, modified organosolv process, any type of plant-borne biomass can be separated into cellulose, hemicellulose, and a melt-flowing lignin product.

From here, these components can be made into cellulose derivatives, biobased sugars, and organic solvents.  Further, the melt-flowable lignin appears to have myriad end uses, including but not limited to:

  • Coupled with specific polymers for a standalone bioplastic
  • Thermoplastic resin extender
  • Depolymerized into specific, biobased monomer systems
  • Biobased adhesives
  • Binder systems for fertilizer, cement, and wood plastic composites
  • Displacement of some/all polyacrylonitrile (PAN) for carbon fiber
  • Waterproof, fully biobased coating for biobased paper systems and biobased films

Frankly, there is no clear, singular answer to the question posed.  There is growth and innovation in the bioplastics arena all around us, and too many fast developing applications to simply place a bet on one standalone product.  This is the best of problems to have, and Attis Innovations looks forward to being part of many of these solutions!