Tackling plastic waste: Kaneka highlights bio-based and biodegradable polymer technology at K 2019

  • Kaneka Biodegradable Polymer PHBH to be highlighted at K 2019
  • Recent food contact material approval for PHBH in the EU, Japan and US
  • Biodegradable solution helps to tackle littering and marine pollution

Amid growing calls to cut back on plastic waste and deliver circular economy solutions, Kaneka is showcasing Kaneka Biodegradable Polymer PHBH technology at K 2019 (Düsseldorf, October 16-23), following recent food contact material approval in the EU, Japan and the US. The leading technology-driven company has developed the bio-based and biodegradable polymer PHBH, which is not only recyclable through composting, but is also biodegradable in natural environments, including marine waters.

Tackling plastic waste: Kaneka highlights bio-based and biodegradable polymer technology at K 2019.

Articles made of PHBH have a major sustainability advantage in helping to cut back on littering and ocean pollution through its biodegradable properties. “The plastics industry is being challenged to come up with more sustainable and biodegradable solutions and help reduce littering issues. Particularly in recent years, marine pollution through microplastics has become a major global societal issue. With this new biopolymer, we are offering a plant-based alternative to compostable and biodegradable articles,” says Yukihito Ozaki, General Manager Biodegradable Polymers Division, at Kaneka.

With “OK Biodegradable MARINE” certification that guarantees biodegradability in sea water, Kaneka’s new solution can help to reduce marine pollution. Other TÜV Austria Belgium certified labels for Biodegradable Polymer PHBH are “OK Biobased,” “OK biodegradable Soil,” “OK Compost Home,” and “OK Compost Industrial.”

The new biopolymer is produced through a microorganism fermentation process, in which plant oils and its fatty acids are used as a primary raw material. It shows excellent biodegradable properties under natural conditions such as in soil and in marine waters and will start to biodegrade into CO₂ and water through the digestive process of micro-organisms available in nature.

Kaneka has been piloting the production of PHBH at its Takasago headquarters in Japan since 2011. Current production is running at capacity of 1,000 MT/y. However, pilot production capacity will be upscaled to 5,000 MT/y by December 2019.

Recent food contact material approvals in the EU, Japan and the US will now allow Kaneka to accelerate their expansion of PHBH:

  • In March 2018, PHBH was registered as a food contact material of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • In May 2019, PHBH was adopted to the positive list of the Japan Hygienic Olefin in May 2019, which means that the raw material can be used in food utensils, containers and packaging materials and Japan.
  • In August 2019, Kaneka’s solutions obtained extended food contact approval towards all food types in the EU. This means that from now on, PHBH can be used for articles such as cutlery, straws, cups, on top of dry food contact applications such as fruit and vegetable bags.

The innovative potential of the solution has already been recognized. In April 2019, Kaneka was selected as one of the six finalists in Innovation Award competition 2019 for chemistry and life sciences in Belgium. The award recognized the development of a bio-based and biodegradable foam particle based on the biopolymer PHBH.

Kaneka’s ePHBH is the result of a successful merging between Kaneka’s fermentation and macromolecular core technologies. It relies on the company’s unique access to both the foam particle technology and the natural polymer PHBH. The newly developed bio-based and biodegradable foam particles can be molded with existing equipment into food and non-food packaging without sacrificing the key features of polyolefin foams.

The development will allow for the production of innovative packaging that is fully in-line with the circular economy. Furthermore, the added value of compostability at end of life means new perspectives in waste management systems.

At its booth at K 2019 (Hall 6, stand 6A020), Kaneka will present cutting-edge material solutions, including this major advancement in sustainability. Company experts will be available to provide more details on this revolutionary technology.

Kaneka Corporation, established in 1949, is a leading technology-driven company, headquartered in Osaka and Tokyo, Japan. Aligned with the global business strategy, Kaneka focuses its activities on four strategic solutions units: materials, quality of life, health care and nutrition. The company’s business activities span a broad spectrum of markets, ranging from chemicals, food products, synthetic fibres, and life science to electrical and electronic materials. Kaneka Corporation has three regional holding companies in Asia, the Americas, and Europe. Worldwide, Kaneka employs 10000 people.

Through world-class science and technology, Kaneka provides innovative products and solutions to diverse markets around the world, responding to the needs of people, society and the global environment, today and tomorrow.

1970 marked the foundation of Kaneka Belgium in Westerlo, Belgium – as the company’s very first subsidiary outside Japan, and the first production site of a Japanese chemical company in Belgium. Since then, Kaneka Belgium has expanded its business and R&D activities to encompass diverse functional and foamed plastics solutions, developing and manufacturing specialty materials for applications in industrial, automotive, building & construction, packaging, consumer, DIY, and residential sectors.