Melanie Williams Consulting

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Biobased% - a new certification for bioplastics

The total bio-based content of bioplastics and other renewable materials can now be certified, providing a key differentiator in the market. The new certification encompasses all the elements derived from the biomass starting material- carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen. It was launched officially by NEN, the Netherlands’ Standards Organisation, at the recent European Bioplastics Conference.

Consumer brands are turning to materials made from renewables rather than fossil oil and gas to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of their products and packaging.  This certification, based on European standard EN 16785-1, will give consumers a recognisable and credible brand to guide their purchasing choices.

But how is this different from the measurement of bio-based carbon, which is the basis of the US Biopreferred Programme?

Measuring the bio-based carbon is important and is incorporated in the new system. The new ‘biobased%’ certification goes further and recognises products that incorporate the maximum amount of the bio-content from the starting material, not just the carbon. It will be important where bio and fossil components are mixed in one product, which is increasingly common.

So BioPLA, which retains oxygen, carbon and hydrogen from the sugar starting material, would receive a higher certified ‘biobased%’ value in a mixture with fossil material than BioPET, where the oxygen from the sugar is lost in the production of the bio-intermediate (bioethylene).  BioPLA is a biodegradable plastic ideal for disposable items like packaging and cutlery. BioPET is an exact substitute for oil derived PET, used for carbonated drinks bottles.

The first two certificate holders are Corbion for PLA and Kraton for products from tall oil. Vinçotte and DIN CERTCO are the two certification bodies involved.  More details are available at http://www.biobasedcontent.eu/ 

Published: 9 December 16

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