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03 Nov, 2011

New bioplastic materials are being developed at Scion in Rotorua, including some that incorporate wood.

Listen to audio: Bioplastics

Duration: 23:11

Bioplastics are plastics made using bio-based renewable resources. Crown Research Institute Scion has a focus on developing bio-based materials, and wood is a useful bio-based material they know a lot about, so they are looking at ways of combining wood with plastic to make more environmentally friendly materials.

Plastic processing is cost-effective and allows products to be made into complex shapes, but wood fibres are difficult to process in plastics machinery. Scion has developed a technique that pelletises wood fibre in such a way that it can be used along with polypropylene pellets in standard plastics machinery.

Jeremy Warnes discusses the challenges and advantages of combining wood with plastic and describes a range of other bioplastic products being developed at Scion, including:

  • pot plant pots that can be planted in the ground with the seedling and eventually degrade in the soil
  • degradable plant pegs that can be used in controlling soil erosion – they are strong enough to be hammered into the ground and degrade slowly so they don’t have to be removed
  • a new spife (spoon/knife) – Scion has reduced the carbon footprint of the spife by making it bioplastic and using kiwifruit waste for reinforcement
  • bioplastic pottles designed for packaging environmentally friendly cosmetics.

Programme details: Our Changing World


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