03 Nov, 2011
New bioplastic materials are being developed at Scion in Rotorua, including some that incorporate wood.
Listen to audio: Bioplastics
Bioplastics are plastics made using bio-based renewable resources. Crown Research Institute Scion has a focus on developing bio-based materials, and wood is a useful bio-based material they know a lot about, so they are looking at ways of combining wood with plastic to make more environmentally friendly materials.
Plastic processing is cost-effective and allows products to be made into complex shapes, but wood fibres are difficult to process in plastics machinery. Scion has developed a technique that pelletises wood fibre in such a way that it can be used along with polypropylene pellets in standard plastics machinery.
Jeremy Warnes discusses the challenges and advantages of combining wood with plastic and describes a range of other bioplastic products being developed at Scion, including:
- pot plant pots that can be planted in the ground with the seedling and eventually degrade in the soil
- degradable plant pegs that can be used in controlling soil erosion – they are strong enough to be hammered into the ground and degrade slowly so they don’t have to be removed
- a new spife (spoon/knife) – Scion has reduced the carbon footprint of the spife by making it bioplastic and using kiwifruit waste for reinforcement
- bioplastic pottles designed for packaging environmentally friendly cosmetics.
Programme details: Our Changing World
- 09 February 2012