Plantic Technologies Ltd is an Australian-based company that is a world leading innovator in bioplastics. They have won many awards for their products and technology. In this interview AZoCleantech’s Editor-in-Chief Dr. Cameron Chai (CC) speaks to Plantic CEO, Brendan Morris (BM) about their technology, materials and their advantages.
CC – How long have Plantic been involved in bioplastics and how did they first become involved with these materials?
BM - Plantic commenced commercial operations in 2003. Plantic was established to commercialise a unique, biodegradable plastic developed by a Cooperative Research Centre in Australia.
Brendan Morris, CEO of Plantic Technologies (with Plantic eco Plastic™ as used by Coles).
CC – Can you define for us, what a bioplastic is?
BM - A material that comes from a renewable resource.
CC – What does Plantic use as the raw material for their bioplastics and why did you choose that particular raw material?
BM - Our core ingredient is speciality high amylose corn starch, which was chosen based on its performance characteristics. We are constantly looking and evaluating other raw materials sources.
CC – What is the advantage of using a renewable feedstock such as corn starch?
BM - They provide a range of environmental benefits, such as low energy consumption, low greenhouse gas impact but importantly Plantic’s key performance benefit is its ultra-high gas barrier performance.
CC – Can you tell us briefly outline the production process for making bioplastics from renewable materials such as corn starch?
BM - Proprietary extrusion process.
CC – How much energy is required to convert these renewable feedstocks into bioplastics compared to converting oil conventional plastics?
BM - Plantic uses less than half the energy through its life cycle (cradle to grave LCA analysis) compared with convention plastics such as PET, PP and PVC.
CC – If a plastics manufacturer was interested in using one of your bioplastics to replace a petroleum-based plastic, would they need to modify their manufacturing process or equipment?
BM - No Plantic processes on industry standard equipment.
CC – What properties do Plantic bioplastics have and do they compare to the properties of conventional plastics?
BM - Plantic has similar mechanical properties but the key performance benefit is gas barrier properties which is for example one thousand (1,000) time better than Polypropylene .
CC – Plantic bioplastics are described as being biodegradable and compostable. Does this mean that we won’t see your materials polluting waterways and coastlines like we often see in news reports and documentaries?
BM - Yes, Plantic is certified as biodegradable in water, soil and home compost.
Water soluble packaging solution from Plantic.
CC – One of the main applications of Plantic bioplastics is packaging. Everything we buy these days comes in packaging from groceries to consumer goods. How much of a problem are all these packaging materials for the environment, and do you think the adoption of bioplastic packaging can make much of a difference?
BM - Yes many major retailers are seeing the benefits of Plantic’s products and adopting them for a range of applications, these include Coles in Australia for meat packaging and Marks and Spencer in the UK for a range of confectionary and baked goods
CC – There is an obvious environmental attraction to using your materials as you have outlined. How do they stack up in terms of price?
BM - Plantic is price competitive which is critical to the adoption of our materials.
CC – Can you give us some examples of who is currently using your bioplastics and where we may have encountered your materials, perhaps without having even knowing it?
In Australia Coles has been the first supermarket to adopt Plantic Eco Plastic™ technology where it is being used for pre-packed meats such as beef, lamb, veal and sausage products. The use of Plantic bioplastics even features in Coles’ sustainability program (http://www.coles.com.au/About-Coles/Sustainability.aspx/)
Plantic Eco Plastic metal packaging trays.
On the other side of the world, Marks and Spencer in the UK are using our materials for their entire range of Swiss chocolates and a range of bakery product. In particular the trays are made from Plantic materials and will totally breakdown in a few weeks when added to your compost heap.
For more information about Plantic Technologies and their bioplastics, please visit www.plantic.com.au or watch their video below.