In an article published on February 5, 2019 by news provider Plastics News, correspondent Karen Laird discusses the production and use of the naturally occurring bio-based polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) polymers as alternatives to conventional fossil-based plastic resins. The article presents the history of PHA, grouping of the chemical family, commercial potential, and ongoing challenges and needs for further development.

A biopolymers consultant is quoted in the article as saying “[a]lways, price and quality come first and only when PHA fulfills the price/quality requirements of the market will customers be willing to buy it. Only then will the fact that it is biodegradable become a powerful, additional sales argument.” The consultant also mentions a number of ongoing challenges with PHA-based materials that need to be addressed including “their low nucleation density and therefore slow crystallization rates, which makes them less suitable for injection molding.” While market success is still uncertain, Laird writes that there have been a number of successful industrial breakthroughs including Newlight Technologies and Danimer Scientific (FPF reported).

A dossier has been developed by the Food Packaging Forum on the use of bioplastics as food contact materials. Plastics News Europe will host a webinar on bioplastics on February 21, 2019 (FPF reported), and the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE) will also host a webinar on bioplastics on February 28, 2019.

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Karen Laird (February 5, 2019). “Bioplastics: Promising but pricey.” Plastics News