Bioplastics represent promising, sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based products. They are widely manufactured from renewable materials and, ideally, are biodegradable. Until now, however, their widespread use was hindered by processing drawbacks compared to conventional thermoplastics.
Using WACKER’s VINNEX®, a vinyl-acetate-based polymer binder system, manufacturers now have the capability to develop high-performance biopolymer blends. VINNEX® enables different biopolymer raw materials such as polylactic acid (PLA), polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), polybutylene succinate (PBS), cellulose acetate (CA) and starch to be combined into a new class of customizable biopolymer blends with a wide array of properties. Depending on the composition, these blends have higher impact strengths, are more flexible or have a higher melting strength than conventional biopolymers while maintaining biodegradability. The blends can be processed on conventional equipment, and make injection molding, extrusion, vacuum forming, thermoforming and calendering much easier.
VINNEX® opens up an expanding range of applications for biopolymers: the binder enables highly transparent and noise-reduced PLA films that offer improved physical, film-sealing, and shrinking properties, e.g. for packaging applications. In addition, VINNEX® enables thermoforming of bioplastics intended for hot filling applications and increases the adhesion of PLA to paper. Thus, the new binder could soon serve as a raw material for coffee cups, soup containers and cutlery. Most VINNEX® grades can be used in food contact applications. The new blends can also be processed into brochures, parts for electronic appliances or self-degradable gardening and agricultural containers. Experts estimate that bioplastics could replace up to 90 percent of all conventional plastics in the future.