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The rate of growth, in fact, may be enough to erode a potion of oil demand, just as recycling can erode the overall demand for virgin plastics, according to Pieterjan Van Uytvanck, a senior consultant at Wood Mackenzie, a research group focused on the oil industry.
While bioplastics currently make up just 1 percent of the plastics market, chemical companies like BASF have jumped into the growing bioplastics market to meet the demand from companies like Coca-Cola and Lego A/S.
One solution that enables plastic bottles to be made from 100-percent renewable raw materials comes via a joint venture between BASF and Dutch company Avantium. A process produces the chemical building block furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) from fructose. FDCA can be used to make polyethylenefuranoate (PEF), which can be manufactured into beverage bottles and food packaging. PEF bottles have some unique features: Not only are they 100-percent bio-based, compared to bottles made of PET they offer improved barrier properties for gases like carbon dioxide and oxygen, leading to a longer shelf life for the packaged beverages, BASF says.
In June, Avantium NV announced industry consortium “PEFerence.” The consortium, consisting of 11 companies including Synvina, Avantium, BASF, and a number of other reputable industrial companies and brand owners. The partners will jointly work on establishing an innovative supply chain for FDCA and PEF, including the intended construction of a 50,000 tons reference plant in Antwerp.
IKEA has said that, by 2020, it wants to manufacture all of its plastic products — including carrier bags, children’s toys and storage boxes — from renewable and/or recycled materials.
“Here, we are trying to replace oil-based plastics with those made from renewable raw materials. This could mean 100-percent bio-based polymers such as polylactide or else combinations of a variety of biobased materials. In some cases, mixtures with oil-based plastics are also a possible first step,” explains Puneet Trehan, material innovation and development leader at IKEA. The initial target, he says, is a bio-based proportion of 40 to 60 percent.
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