Special edition: Sustainable packaging

Biobased materials gets R&D boost in the Netherlands

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Avantium is working on a biobased polymer known as polyethylene furanoate
Avantium is working on a biobased polymer known as polyethylene furanoate
Between €3m and €6m will be available for research and development into biobased performance materials (BPM) in the Netherlands over the next four years.

Funding of €3m will come from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the BPM project office will apply for a €3m grant with the Dutch organisation for scientific research (NWO) and Dutch companies will provide 35% of the funding.

The BPM programme comprises basic research by universities and applied research in cooperation with companies.

With the starting point being the needs in materials and the wishes of customers, biobased materials are studied and tested by universities (basic research) and applied research institutes.

Initial projects

The first projects in the Biobased Performance Materials (BPM) programme will end this year.

They include FEASIBLE which looked at how sustainable are bioplastics and how feasible is it to use them to replace regular plastics.

In the PLAstic Bottle project, researchers are working on a less permeable polylactic acid (PLA) plastic.  

Projects bring together Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research with more than 30 industrial partners including ABB, Constar, BASF, DSM, Heinz and Cargill and five research institutions.

Future interest areas

The focus of current projects is on materials from biobased building blocks but future areas of interest include the development of materials based on natural polymers such as starch, cellulose and chitin.

Materials and products made of bioplastics, such as films, bottles and resins, were designed and tested with the private sector.

Although not all the materials had the same essential characteristics as fossil-based alternatives significant progress was made, said BPM programme controllers.

These and other biobased materials will be further developed in the follow-up programme. Another point of focus is research into the unique properties of biobased materials, such as the improved shelf life of food in biobased packaging

Raw materials such as bio-PET, bio-PE/PP, PLA and PHA are produced throughout the world but the Netherlands believes it can carry out the production and processing of these materials into bioplastics thanks to companies including Synbra, Avantium, Rodenburg, Cosun, and Croda, Corbion-Purac and DSM.

Projects involving companies and research institutes can be submitted now and grants will be decided based on demand and under the supervision of the BPM project office.

Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research will coordinate the applied research while the basic research will be by the Dutch Polymer Institute (DPI).

Companies and research institutes interested in participating can contact the BPM project office. 

Related topics Processing & packaging

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