Exploring benefits of the bioplastics boom

10 August 2010

More than 50 people from around the country with an interest in bioplastics are gathering in Rotorua for a day-long workshop at Crown Research Institute Scion on 13 August.

Bioplastics is one of the fastest growing industrial sectors globally says Scion’s Team Leader, Biopolymer and Green Chemical Technologies, Dr Alan Fernyhough.

“Despite the poor economy, the global bioplastics market is growing by between 10 and 20 percent each year. Annual production is predicted to exceed 20 million tonnes by 2020, from a base today of less than 1 million tonnes.

“Now is the time for New Zealand industries and companies with eco-conscious customers to consider bioplastics as the sustainable alternative to petroleum-based products or packaging.

“We are already working with kiwifruit marketing company, ZESPRI, to establish a point of difference in their overseas markets by developing a unique bioplastic utensil – the ‘spife’. Participants will get to see the spife prototype plus other innovations, and discover how bioplastics can benefit their companies”, says Dr Fernyhough.

The workshop will examine the basics of bioplastics research and present the most recent advances and trends in bioplastics. In addition to Scion’s researchers and scientists, other speakers will come from ZESPRI and the Australasian Bioplastics Association.

The workshop has generated interest from a wide range of organisations, encompassing major brands and retailers as well as plastics and packaging manufacturers. Delegates include senior marketing professionals and product development specialists.

By the end of the day they will have a good understanding of the types of bioplastics, the technologies involved, the environmental advantages bioplastics offer (from waste reduction and reduced carbon footprints, to biodegradability in some options) and the route to developing and commercialising their particular product.

Scion is New Zealand’s leading institute for expertise in bioplastic technologies. It has been working alongside industry and partners and undertaking research and development in bioplastics for more than 10 years.