Environmentally Conscious Consumers
According to a study by consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, bioplastics are particularly sought after by the food sector, where consumers are increasingly demanding biodegradable packaging and are willing to pay higher prices for it. Reports about huge plastic garbage vortexes the size of central Europe in the world’s oceans have alarmed environmentally aware consumers. However, the Frost & Sullivan study claims that the success of the bioplastics market also depends on the development of new technologies to enhance the quality and properties of the materials used. “Companies are working on innovations in various technology fields to improve the properties of existing biopolymers and their discoveries may greatly change the way plastics are used in packaging applications,” explained Sujatha Vijayan, a research analyst at the US-based consulting firm.
New Blends Enhance Properties
One of these companies is Wacker Chemie AG: to compensate for biopolymers’ remaining shortcomings, WACKER developers are relying on the principle of polymer blends, thus a mix of synthetic and biobased polymers. Adding the VINNEX® vinyl-acetate-based binder now enables the development of significantly higher-performance biopolymer blends that cover a more diverse application and processing spectrum.
Typically, the blends contain between five and 30 percent of the added binder. The additive considerably enhances the physical properties of the bioplastics, which are otherwise difficult to process. To an extent depending on the VINNEX® content and grade, the polymer blends have higher impact strengths, are more resistant to melting or are more flexible than the pure biopolymers.