Innovative polymer composition for the production of, among others ecological disposable cutlery, subject to organic recycling, was developed at the Department of Polymer Technology of the Faculty of Chemistry of the Gdańsk University of Technology. This is the answer of the scientists in support of the European Parliament to introduce in the EU a ban on the sale of disposable items, such as plastic cutlery, straws or plates, obtained from traditional plastics.
Use of Fully Natural Raw Materials
“The production of our biopolymer materials uses readily available raw materials of full natural origin or raw materials obtained from renewable sources, which is a significant advantage over the commonly used petroleum derivatives” - explains prof. Helena Janik, head of the research team. The innovative composition includes a thermoplastic starch obtained from potato flour and natural-derived additives and a polylactide biopolymer (PLA).
Proper selection of the type and amount of modifier of thermoplastic starch and its composition with PLA provides material with the desired processability and compostability, as well as with appropriate physical and mechanical properties of finished products - adds prof. Helena Janik.
The disposable products obtained from such a composition are durable in use and at the same time retain environmentally friendly properties. They can be composted along with food scraps and are completely biodegradable.
Use of Conventional Manufacturing Methods Possible with New Polymer
Another undoubted advantage of the invention is the possible method of manufacturing disposable products based thereon.
Granules of the developed starch and its PLA compositions are thermoplastic materials, and thus can be used in the production of disposable products by injection molding or by extrusion, considered to be one of the cheapest and the fastest methods of obtaining products from classic plastics - explains prof. Helena Janik.
One of the first products to be implemented on the basis of this composition are disposable cutlery. Technological tests were carried out to obtain a prototype of such cutlery on an industrial scale in cooperation with one of the industry companies interested in implementing the solution. They proved that the compositions developed have a higher thermal resistance than products from pure PLA.
Positively Tested and Cost Effective Polymer Mix
The polymer mix of scientists from Gdańsk is characterized by one more important feature that is of interest to entrepreneurs.
Due to the replacement of a part of PLA by much cheaper thermoplastic starch, the final price of 1 kg of our composition is lower than pure PLA by about 15%, and the process of implementing technology to produce extremely simple - explains Dr. Eng. Maciej Sienkiewicz, co-creator of granule production technology and its extrusion.
Accreditations carried out in accredited laboratories, including assessment of compostability, biodegradability and impact on the aquatic environment were very positive, proving the superiority of the developed compositions over the existing solutions on the market.