Move over to natural plastic: roquette shows the way

Most plastics are produced from petrochemicals. However, given the fact that natural resources are on the wane and the threat of global warming is becoming a reality, bioplastics are being developed. Bioplastics are made substantially from renewable plant materials such as cellulose and starch. In comparison to the global consumption of all flexible packaging, estimated at 12.3 million tonnes per year, estimates put global production capacity at 3,27,000 tonnes per year for related bio-derived materials.

One of such materials that can help produce plastic naturally is Polysorb® P. This is a highly pure isosorbide, obtained by dehydration of sorbitol, a derivative of glucose – for which Roquette Company is the leading world producer. The compound exhibits key attributes offering value or opportunities to develop successful and sustainable applications and is a proven non-toxic substance for polycarbonate, polyester, etc. Roquette Company is a global player in plant-based raw material processing, which indeed recorded R&D and commercial successes in applying starch chemistry to the synthesis and formulation of polymers.

Polysorb® P. Courtesy: Roquette.

Thanks to a French government aid of up to Euro 42 million approved by the European Commission in December 2006, Roquette Company led an R&D programme of five years named BIOHUB®. This involved multiple private and public partners and was created to develop new plant-based chemical products and new biotech processes for the synthesis of existing chemical products.

The main goal was to strengthen the plant-based chemistry and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. One of the latest successes of this programme is the development of a high purity isosorbide, which is used in two different ways: as a monomer for the synthesis of polymers as well as a polymer plasticizer to replace e.g. phthalates in PVC. For flexible PVC parts, plasticizer can be replaced with both a 100 per cent bio-based and 100 per cent phthalate-free solution. This new additive, Polysorb® ID is a composition of isosorbide diesters produced from fatty acids of vegetable origin and isosorbide obtained by simple modification of a derivative of glucose: sorbitol.

The use of Polysorb® ID, isosorbide plasticizer, is quick and easy via one-to-one substitution of phthalate additive by this new bio-based plasticizer. Being greener by introducing isosorbide diesters as a plasticizer in PVC formulation also means that no comprises have to be made on the final performance or the processing of the product. As for Polysorb® P, it can be used either as a building block for polymers or a new chemical for plant-based chemistry. Used as a monomer, isosorbide offers remarkable additional properties to selected polymers. In addition, it can allow innovation through the creation of new materials or replace molecules such as Bisphenol A.

The technologies developed by Roquette are intended not only to provide environmental, health or regulatory benefits for chemical industry products and processes, but also to provide additional functionality or improved technical performance.

Source: SpecialChem, Roquette.

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