Green materials: BASF to set up compounding capacities of biopolymer in China; Belgian firms to set up recycling plant for packaging waste in Belgium

BASF to set up compounding capacities of biopolymer in China

In order to better support local customers in Asia, German chemicals firm BASF says it will establish compounding capacities for its certified compostable biopolymer ecovio in Shanghai, China. Upon the successful completion of qualification trials, commercial material quantities will be available for customers throughout the region Asia-Pacific from mid-2023.

The first selected compounds that can be ordered will include film grades for applications like certified compostable shopping and organic waste bags, soil-biodegradable agricultural mulch films and packaging. Thus, customers in Asia-Pacific will benefit from closer proximity to BASF’s innovative biopolymer and services, shorter delivery times and quicker adaptation to changing plastics regulations.

Ecovio is a biopolymer which is certified according to international and national standards and can be biodegraded by microorganisms under industrial and home composting conditions as well as in agricultural soil. The BASF biopolymer is one of the few certified compostable polymers complying with the requirements of the European food contact regulation and the US Food Contact Substance Notification of FDA.

“With local compounding capabilities, we will be better positioned to accelerate business growth in the important Asian markets by more effectively meeting the needs of film manufacturers across the region,” says Marcel Barth, head of global Biopolymers marketing at BASF. “With upcoming new laws and regulations in a lot of countries in Asia-Pacific enforcing the use of compostable materials in bag applications, agricultural mulch films and packaging, the positive market development is expected to continue.”

BASF’s biopolymer ecovio is certified compostable in accordance with standards such as DIN EN 13432. It is a blend of BASF’s PBAT ecoflex and renewable raw materials. Typical applications for ecovio are organic waste bags, cling film, fruit and vegetable bags, as well as agricultural mulch films and food packaging applications.

Studies show the advantages of ecovio for production, packaging and shelf life of food as well as for the collection of food waste. These advantages are based on the material’s certified biodegradability in industrial and home composting as well as in agricultural soil: Food waste is reduced, nutrients are returned to the soil by means of greater volumes of compost – and the accumulation of persistent microplastic in agricultural soil is avoided.

Belgian firms to set up recycling plant for packaging waste in Belgium

In other news Belgian firm Fost Plus has tied up with recycler Morssinkhof Plastics Belgium to build a new recycling plant with a capacity of around 40,000 tonnes/year to convert PP, PE, and HDPE packaging waste into raw materials for further packaging production. The 4.1-ha recycling centre represents an investment of EUR30 million and will be built at the Kristalpark III business park in Lommel, and to be operational from October 2024.

Fost Plus plans to provide the centre with 24,000 tonnes of PMD waste sourced from Belgian households. Its processing capabilities are said to range between polypropylene solutions such as ready-meal trays, yoghurt cups, and butter dishes, and HDPE bottles for milk, shampoo, detergent, and shower gel.

These will be converted into recycled plastic granules to be used in the production of new packaging. It is hoped that the recyclate will be of such high quality that it can be reused in its entirety and that it will be supplied to the local Belgian market as much as possible.

The nameplate capacity on paper will be split 50/50 between HDPE and PP, but will depend on the waste composition with the PP component expected to be larger than the HDPE component in practice, according to Morssinkhof.

Only 9% of plastic packaging material is thought to have been recycled in Belgium in 2020, with the rest being exported to neighbouring countries. Fost Plus’ new recycling centre is the last of five new facilities being built across Belgium, with three new operational – the simultaneous efforts of all five are expected to see a 75% domestic recycling rate for plastic packaging from 2025.

Morssinkhof is Europe’s largest producer of rLDPE reganulates that are suitable for high end film applications. It has ten processing facilities in Europe, each with their own specialism. It buys well sorted post-consumer and post-industrial plastics, after which it will be recycled into high grade sustainable raw materials. Its core business focuses on the recycling process of four different plastics: HDPE, LDPE, PET and PP.


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