The blog has been reporting developments in bio-based polystyrene (PS) especially at these times where expandable PS is being banned in several cities in the US including the recent one here in my hometown, New York City.
New Zealand-based The Biopolymer Network (BPN) has partnered with Auckland-based plastics maker Barnes Plastics, and the partnership has reportedly created a PLA-based biodegradable foam called ZealaFoam for packaging application particularly for the fish and aquaculture export industries where fish boxes need to maintain their integrity throughout a 24-48 hour period. The bio-foam is reportedly being tested by a large global company in the US.
BPN’s process involves expanding small PLA beads using CO2 as a blowing agent. ZealaFoam can be produced using the same machinery that makes traditional polystyrene. If the US deal pans out, BPN is hopeful to start commercialization scale-up by the end of the year where production is expected to stay in New Zealand. The technology can be licensed to other manufacturers when used for packaging. BPN has retained full ownership of the IP.
BPN was set up in 2005 and is jointly owned by three of the government’s Crown Research Institutes, Scion, Plant & Food, and AgResearch. BPN focuses its research on four key areas: bio-based foams and resins; aqueous extracted proteins and starches; tannin extracts and derivatives; and liquid CO2 processing.