Biodegradable plastics

Innovative solutions for different applications

For certain applications the solution to plastic waste is the use of biodegradable plastics. These plastics should break down in nature. However, polymers tend to respond differently to different natural environments. Even compostable products may break down well on controlled industrial composters, but not on your garden compost heap.

Senbis has recently launched a compostablet wine for horticultural use. Senbis Polymer Innovations is specialized in creating innovative solutions with polymers that will break down under different specific conditions. Using commercially available biopolymers (based on polylactic acid) and their specialized knowledge, they came up with a formula that produced twine which degrades in industrial composters. This is a desirable trait for horticulturalist. It means that at the end of the growing season, their organic waste with the twines used to bind the plants is still industrially compostable organic waste, which costs less to dispose than non-organic waste.

Another product that is ready for the market are dolly ropes for the fishing industry. Dolly ropes protect nets that are dragged over the seafloor from abrasion and are usually made from polyethylene. These ropes abrade during use, and can come off entirely. This releases large amounts of plastic in the ocean. Senbis worked out how to make tough ropes from bioplastics that are degradable in a marine environment. They have successfully done some small scale tests. However, the degradable dolly ropes are more expensive than the standard ropes. And even though the price is a small fraction of the total fishing costs, skippers are reluctant to adopt these more environmentally friendly dolly ropes. New fishing regulations could make a difference here.

Finally, Senbis is working on a trimmer line used for grass cutting. These plastic lines abrade during use, shedding small flakes. The team managed to create a polymer mixture that is tough enough for use but will degrade in ordinary soil. Turning these polymers into a firm line is a challenge, but they are almost there.

Senbis combines knowledge of (bio)polymers with extensive experience in making plastic fibres. The biopolymers are sourced from the market and are converted in Emmen into the different fibre- and monofilament products. Senbis has pilot facilities for specialty productions but also cooperates with partners like Morssinkhof Plastics to produce large quantities of yarns on their spinning machines. In addition Senbis is planning new investments in production machinery for polymer compounding and monofilament production at which it wants to produce more sustainable products.

Senbis website