Biobased materials and technologies are making good progress. New products are emerging at a good speed but the progress is being hampered due to the fact that most of the developers are small businesses so that they struggle with scaling up and bringing the costs down.
A small UK company has now launched a 100% biobased resin that competes with the conventional formaldehyde type on price. It is made from DDGS (Distillers Dried Grains and Solubles), an abundant and very cheap material (a waste). Award-winning technology has been developed that is now implemented in China, producing 10,000+ tons (and growing) of resin per year.
The resin has been trialled successfully in existing production methods for injection moulding, laminating, composite building. A subsidiary has been set up making biobased reusable coffee cups. A range of houseware (incl food grade) has been prototyped but also industrial goods such as biocomposite pallets and chip boards. See the Picture below. With regards to degradability and compostability, the resin will not be a bottleneck. If the fibre is plant based, the product will degrade.
Another application is under development by the company that targets a huge market. Namely, the resin can bond mixed plastic waste. Supermarket chains can grind down their own waste and make pallets for example. After end of life, they can be ground again, and more waste and more resin added for new products.
The technology has too many applications for this one business. The company is seeking a range of partners for different roles.
Technical cooperation is envisaged around process and product development. A lot of the know-how can be transferred quickly under a license agreement. Supply agreements for the resin can be struck where it can readily replace formaldehyde etc. Technical cooperation is sought with organisations handling mixed plastic waste streams. The above-mentioned technology for using mixed plastics should be tested further on different streams and different applications.