PLANTICSINSIDE: Developing Plant Pots

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Reducing plastic waste and lowering CO2 emissions is a top priority of the EU. New legislation forces industries to use alternatives to fossil-based plastics. The PlanticsInside project funded by the EU SME program, aims to develop new materials and production processes and develop applications together with strong (market) partners.

Why PlanticsInside?

Reducing plastic waste and lowering CO2 emissions is a top priority of the EU when it comes to environmental action. Yearly ~355 million tonnes of plastic are produced worldwide. New legislation forces industries to use alternatives to fossil-based plastics. Therefore, a shift to biobased and biodegradable plastics is needed. Industries actively seek for such alternatives, today accounting for less than 2% of all plastic production but growing at a stunning 25% rate each year. Several biothermoplasts have been introduced to the market (“soft plastics” accounting for ~80% of all plastics) but adoption is low due to high costs and low quality, hampering the reduction of single-use-plastics. There is no bioalternative to thermoset plastics (“hard plastics” accounting for ~20% of all plastics). This leaves huge markets (e.g., construction) using conventional fossil-based plastics which are flammable, toxic, and hazardous products).

Plantics has invented a new bioresin that is cost-competitive and that meets both requirements of functionality and low cost. The Plantics resin is safe, 100% bio-based, recyclable, and makes the product biodegradable upon entry into the environment, resulting in a more negative carbon footprint compared to existing thermoset polymers. Moreover, it is strong and has very good binding properties. Plantics BV aims to further develop new materials and their production process and develop applications together with strong (market) partners.

The Plantics resin can be used in combination with moulded paper as an alternative to single use plastics for e.g., packaging and disposables (about 40% of the plastics market). The resulting material is strong, has good barrier characteristics is biodegradable and has a natural look and feel.

 

The PlanticsInside impact

Plantics offers a unique beyond the state-of-the-art solution; our value proposition is that we offer the world’s first thermoset biomaterial that is 100% bio-based, recyclable and if it enters in the environment also fully biodegradable. Importantly, it is safe to use as it contains no toxic components, it is flame retardant and when it burns, no toxic gases are formed. We are delivering a sustainable alternative for which customers are willing to pay a “green-premium”, and still it competes economically with conventional fossil-based plastics.

Plantics resins can be used in combination with moulded (recycled) paper as an alternative for single use fossil-based plastics for e.g. packaging and disposables. Replacing these single-use plastics with moulded paper treated with Plantics resins, will help reducing the CO2 emissions and plastic waste.

In the PlanticsInside project, Plantics aims to design, build, and demonstrate the optimal production process and bring to the market Plantics Pots as a first product-market application. With Plantics Pots, Plantics addresses the need for sustainability in the floriculture sector while being compatible with current production processes. The PlanticsInside project will meet retail customer demands by supplying a yearly product quantity of 10 million pots.

No other company has impregnated moulded paper with a biomaterial before to end up with a strong 100% biobased and biodegradable paper composite product, which is suitable for many applications.

 

Approach

In the PlanticsInside project we focus on the replacement of some specific single use plastic packaging and disposables with products that are made from moulded paper and Plantics resin. We will design, build, and demonstrate an optimized product and resin production process to enable the company to quickly bring a first product to the market, soon followed by other products.

Objectives of the project are to develop the optimal pilot production process for the Plantics resin, to develop a multipurpose pilot production installation for commercial scale production of Plantics Pots and other moulded paper applications, to finalize contracts with buyers / suppliers for the Plantics Pots and to develop a commercialization plan with strong partners for at least two other moulded paper applications.

Plantics aims to bring to the market Plantics Pots as the first product-market application.

 

Progress of the project

During the first year of the project, the Plantics resin formulations were optimized for application with moulded paper products. Important are the barrier properties of the paper, treated with the resin (resistance to water and oil) and the strength of the products. The required product properties were met for different applications. In addition, essential knowledge about the Plantics resins and its scale-up parameters has been obtained and the scale-up objectives for the resin production have been achieved sooner than expected.

For bringing products to the market, the critical steps in the production process have been tested under varying conditions and the optimal processes and settings have been determined. Preliminary designs for these process steps have been made. Trial products have been produced and tested out in different markets, indicating market readiness and demonstrating that the product performance requirements are met.

 

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