BioFoam: the first PLA based product in the world with Cradle to Cradle certification15-12-2009
Poly-Lactic Acid (PLA) is a bio-plastic made from bio-renewable raw materials like carbonhydrates.
It is made by ring opening polymerisation of L- and D-lactides. These lactides are
supplied by Purac Biochem. The polymerisation process is based on technology developed
by Sulzer Chemtech and Purac Biochem.
After succesfully completing the pilot plant phase in Winterthur, Switzerland, the first
commercial plant to demonstrate the Sulzer-Purac technology is currently being built by
SYNBRA in the Netherlands for the production of BioFoam; a foamed product made from
this PLA, complementary to their wide range of polystyrene foam products offered today. The
new plant with a capacity of 5.000 ton/year is targeted to be operational by the end of Q2 -
2010. Synbra intends to take a leading position in Europe as a supplier of biologically
degradable polymers from renewable sources and anticipates further growth in the future,
also in the field of high temperature resistant stereocomplex PLA.
The development of BioFoam was supported by Wageningen University (BBP-AFSG). By
the beginning of 2010, a demonstration and product development technicum with several
moulding machines will become operational in Etten Leur to mould BioFoam to meet various
applications and suit customer demands of Synbra Group Company customers.
Being produced from the renewable resource PLA, BioFoam® is an environmentally friendly
alternative for the polystyrene foam products offered today. After use, the BioFoam product
can be remoulded to a new product or can be completely biodegraded Being ‘designed for
environment’ implies there is no chemical waste, which means that the product is designed
according to the so called ‘Cradle to Cradle’ principles.
The Cradle to CradleSM Design is founded by William Mc Donough and Michael Braungart.
The latter is also the founder of EPEA, an international scientific research and consultancy
institute that improves product quality, utility and environmental performance via ecoeffectiveness.
Together with their USA based sister company MBDC, EPEA is able to grant
companies a Cradle to Cradle certificate for specific products. Tebodin has a cooperation
treaty with EPEA, and supports companies in developing Cradle to Cradle strategies and
solutions based on an effective design of processes, products, landscape, buildings etc.
Tebodin Consultants & Engineers was asked to prepare the application package for the
Cradle to Cradle-certification of BioFoam. Data was collected and compiled on material
safety, water and energy utilization as well as information on the social responsibility of the
applying company. Based on this information EPEA was able to execute an assessment
study, which has resulting in BioFoam now officially being declared a Cradle to Cradle
The use of both L and D lactides also enables the manufacture of stereo complex sc-PLA
with unmatched temperature resistance. In parallel to BioFoam this sc-PLA is becoming
available to enhance the temperature stability of PLA containing bioplastics compounds. The
current polystyrene compounding factory in Etten-Leur will be gradually converted to enable
compounding of several biobased materials.
Tebodin B.V. in The Hague (the Netherlands) is an independent, multidisciplinary
consultancy and engineering firm with a turnover of € 232 million (2008). Tebodin offers her
clients worldwide the knowledge and experience of over 3,000 experts in industry, health &
nutrition, oil & gas, (petrol) chemicals, infra-structure, real estate, and energy & environment.
The company has a network of around fifty offices in West, Central and Eastern Europe, the
Middle East and Asia. Tebodin is an independent operating company of Royal BAM Group
nv in Bunnik, the Netherlands. www.tebodin.com
EPEA Internationale Umweltforschung GmbH is an independent institute that works with
clients worldwide to apply the Cradle to Cradle methodology to the design of new processes,
products and services. To date there are 87 companies world wide that have Cradle to
Cradle certified products, of which there are only 14 in Europe. www.epea.com.