A research team working in the Department of Polymers Technology at Gda?sk University of Technology’s Chemistry Faculty has come up with a biobased plastic that could be used to produce the single-use plastic products that , because of environmental concerns, are due to be banned by the European Parliament.
"Our biopolymers are created with easily accessible raw materials, which are either natural or produced from renewable sources. This is already a significant advantage over commonly used petroleum products", explained Prof. Helena Janik, head of the research team.
Made from thermoplastic starch obtained from potato flour, natural additives and a polylactide (PLA), the material can be used to produce disposable products that are durable, eco-friendly, that can be composted with leftovers and biodegrade completely.
The various ingredients are carefully mixed in the correct proportions to ensure the required
physical and mechanical properties of the product are obtained.
The new thermoplastic is highly suited for injection moulding or extrusion – “some of the cheapest and fastest methods of shaping traditional synthetic materials", Prof. Helena Janik said.
Disposable cutlery became one of the first products to be produced and is now ready for implementation. Prototype production on an industrial scale has been tested in cooperation with a company interested in introducing this solution, which showed that the material is more heat resistant than products made only of PLA.
Moreover, what may be particularly interesting for entrepreneurs is the cost-effectiveness of the material.
"Thanks to adding cheap thermoplastic starch to PLA, the price of 1 kg of our composition is 15% lower than the cost of polylactide itself, while the entire production method is very easy to introduce", Maciej Sienkiewicz, PhD Eng., co-creator of the technology emphasizes.
Research carried out in accredited laboratories, testing for compostability, biodegradability and impact on water environment have yielded very promising results.
The polymer compositions are subjects of the European patent No. EP3064542 and are protected in Poland, Germany, France and in the UK. For enquiries, contact Mr. Robert Bajko, innovation broker at the Gda?sk University of Technology Centre for Knowledge and Technology Transfer: tel. 00 48 58 348 63 93, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.