Chinaplas 2014: Jinhui to sell bio PABT to foreign markets

Chinese biodegradable/compostable polymer maker Jinhui Zhaolong High Technology has set up a 20,000-tonne/year line for PABT in Shanxi province. The US$35 million facility expects to sell 70% of its output to Europe. The firm, a subsidiary of Shanxi Jinhui Energy Group, is also tying up with a South Korean materials supplier, according to Vice-President Janice Li, who was speaking at a press conference organised in conjunction with Chinaplas 2014 in Shanghai. She did not disclose the name of the South Korean supplier.

Though the targeted capacity of the biodegradable copolymer is 20,000 tonnes, Li said that the facility will produce 10,000 tonnes this year. The plant completed its pre-trialling last year.

“We hope that it takes off soon in a big way so that we are able to produce up to 20,000 tonnes by next year. This year, we will be happy to breakeven and we expect to start making profits next year,” said Li, adding that the Chinese firm is the largest producer of PABT in Asia.

The Ecoworld PABT is a terpolymer that is said to be completely biodegradable. It can be decomposed into carbon dioxide and water in 180 days by microorganisms under compostable conditions.

It is made of 1.4 butanediol, adipic acid (feedstock for PA) and terephthalic acid using a one-step polymerisation technology. It allows for film properties, ageing resistance and 120% tear resistance and 130% impact strength, compared to PE, owing to its benzene ring. With its properties, it is targeted at agriculture mulch film, rubbish bags, compostable bags and cling wrap, to name a few. The shelf life of PABT is 12 months, even after being processed to film products, said Jinhui.

Approved by the US FDA, it also conforms to the European EN13432 and US ASTM6400D.

When asked about the Chinese market for biopolymers, Li said that concerted effort is needed with local councils and governments to promote the materials.

“The Chinese government has recognised the problem of white pollution. At the 2012 18th National Congress, the need for ecological reforms was a key focus. As such, we expect the move to biomaterials to be much faster,” said Li. She also added that Shanxi province is leading these reforms and as such is supporting Jinhua in its endeavour.

No doubt that China is a big market for biomaterials given its population and the growth of biodegradable shopping bags and mulch film should help the sales of Ecoworld PABT, said Li.

However, she also acknowledged the high cost of biomaterials. “The cost of biodegradable material is much higher. For instance, it can cost RMB24,000/tonne compared to traditional plastics cost of RMB6,000/tonne.”

But Jinhui’s PABT cannot be used on its own. It has to be compounded with other biodegradable materials such as PLA or starch or the latest launch, PPC (from Tian Guan).

“This will increase the quality of the PABT and also lower the cost,” Li explained. She went on to say that Jinhui has a social responsibility to promote biological plastics and is looking forward to working together with other companies.

One such company it is collaborating with is Tian Guan, which is based in Henan province. Technical consultant Professor Meng Yue Zhong, who is also from the Sun Yat-Sen University, presented the company’s PPC (PP carbonate) degradable composite, which is a new high barrier biodegradable film material with carbon dioxide as the main component.

Said Meng, “The disadvantage of barrier material is the high price of EVOH, which can be six times higher than PP or PE. The new PPC solves this problem as the formula is 40-50% carbon dioxide and monomer is PP, polymerised to obtain the PPC. It also costs 60% less than EVOH, while still maintaining oxygen resistance at the same level and it is biodegradable.”

Tian Guan received an award from the Chinese government in 2009. It has 50 local and three US patents on the biodegradable material. It is also collaborating with Jinhui since PPC is one of the materials that can be used in compounding Ecoworld PABT.


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