Sustainable plastics technology
Within the expertise field “Sustainable Plastics Technology” our goal is to develop materials, processes and products that lower the ecological footprint of plastic products. For this purpose we work with biobased plastics but we also have a strong focus on optimizing end-of-life options via mechanical recycling or organic recycling. Our ultimate goal is a circular plastics economy where plastics are biobased, recyclable and do not accumulate in nature. We closely cooperate with industry during the developmental phases of our research and we help industry to implement new materials and technologies.
We have both theoretical and practical knowledge on the properties and processing behaviour of biobased polymers and the recycling of plastic products. As most biobased polymers are polyesters, we are experienced in working with “water-sensitive” materials. Our experienced staff all have their specific expertises. Examples include:
- Compounding extrusion
- Injection moulding
- Film blowing
Our track record
Various materials and products developed at Wageningen Food & Biobased Research have been commercialized. Examples include Biofoam®, a PLA-based particle foam, Whimzees™, edible Pet chews and D-grade®, compostable plant pots. Also, we are well known for our work on co-continuous starch based blends, heat stable PLA products, our developmental work on PHAs and our work on recycling of (plastic) packaging products.
Our strength is that we work with all biobased polymers available on the market. Moreover we process novel polymers that we have produced ourselves on a kg scale. For us the most important polymers are:
- PLA, including nucleated and sc-PLA
- starch blends
- thermoplastic celluloses
- various polyesters like PBS(A), PBAT, PCL and PGA
End of life
We include the requirements originating from a proper end of life solution in the development of new plastic products. We have the expertise and facilities to evaluate if products are recyclable, compostable and/or biodegradable in the natural environment.
In our research we consider the entire material system: from design, production, usage and the presence of undesired substances to different collection systems and recycling technologies. This research yields valuable insights in the optimisation of current value chains as well as lessons to implement in future value chains. It can also help to define credible pathways for a material transition towards safe and circular use of products.
Our processing equipment
We have a broad range of processing equipment that operates at scales starting from 0.5 kg to 1000 kg batch size. Equipment includes:
3 compounding extruders that can be provided with (side-)feeders, dosing pumps for fluids, degassing equipment including a stuffer, a melt pump and various pelletising systems:
- Leistritz ZSE 18 HP Twin screw, 18 mm 40D.
- Berstorff ZE 25 Twin screw, 25 mm 40D.
- Berstorff ZE 42 Blue Power Twin screw, 40mm 56D/40Dinjection moulding machine:
- Sumitomo Demag Intelect2 75/420-250; 75 ton; to be equipped with 2 possible injection cylinders for 23 & 99 g PSEquipment for (co-)extrusion and film blowing:
- Dr. Collin Teachline E 20 T extruder, 20 mm, sheets max. 15 cm wide
- Pilot scale co-extrusion machine for up to 5-layers film blowing and sheet extrusion
Additionally we have a 300 g batch scale Haake kneading mixer, a two-roll mill, 2 compression moulding machines, cutting and milling equipment and various types of dryers.
For recycling we have a dedicated lab, where we can mimic industrial recycling processes at lab scale, including NIR equipment (at object and flake level), shredders and float-sink separation.
To support materials and product development we have various options for polymer analyses including:
- Mechanical analyses (tensile, bending, (dart) impact)
- Chemical analyses (GPC, GC-MS, FTIR)
- Rheology (capillary and oscillatory rheology)
- Thermal analyses (DSC, TGA, DMTA, HDT, MFI)
- Biodegradation testing
What we can do for you
We can help you to find biobased and sustainable alternatives for your current plastic products. Research can start with development of new monomers and polymers and can end with (pilot) trials at your facilities, during which our staff is happy to assist. Contact us for an informal conversation.