Which renewable materials are solutions that meet the needs of future societies? As a response to this challenging question, nova-Institute GmbH, Hürth/Germany, has decided to unite all relevant industries in the new Renewable Materials Conference on May 18–20, 2021. For the first time, all fossil-free material solutions accepted for the finals can be seen in one competition at the “Renewable Materials Conference”. 6 innovations were nominated from 36 submissions and the conference participants will choose the winner at the online event.
The 6 nominees convinced the advisory board with brand-new applications that aim to avoid or substitute fossil-based virgin materials. They are already on the market or are close to getting there, and are as follows:
MMAtwo (EU consortium): Regenerated methyl methacrylate (MMA) for 100% recycled acrylic sheets and composites
New polymers are obtained from the regenerated MMA, leading to 100% recycled-content products, such as new acrylic sheets and composites. The regenerated MMA is produced by a new innovative process, developed in the EU funded project MMAtwo, and will enter the market soon. It is obtained through depolymerization of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), also known as acrylic glass or plexiglass. In the recycling process, PMMA is heated, and MMA unzips selectively from the polymer chain. Crude MMA is further purified to reach very high purity (99.8 % obtained on large batches).
Carbios (France): First clear plastic bottles from enzymatically recycled textile waste
The goal is to provide an industrial solution to the recycling of PET plastics and textiles. This enzymatic recycling technology deconstructs any type of PET plastic waste into its basic components (monomers) which can then be reused to produce new PET plastics of virgin quality. Compared to mechanical recycling technologies, this new enzymatic process enables polyester fibers to be “upcycled” to a high-quality grade of PET suitable for the production of clear bottles.
Eastman (USA): Advanced circular recycling technologies
The new molecular recycling technologies from Eastman can lead to an infinite lifespan for waste materials that were previously destined to end up in landfills or incinerators. Eastman's advanced circular recycling technologies, break down plastic waste into molecular building blocks and rebuild them into new materials like carpets and textiles, thus creating a truly circular solution. By 2030, Eastman expects to recycle up to 225,000 tons of waste plastic annually.
LanzaTech (USA/Switzerland): CO2 recycling for CarbonSmart cleaning
In 2020, Switzerland’s largest retail company, Migros, and its subsidiary, Mibelle Group, launched a range of liquid cleaning products containing LanzaTech CarbonSmart Ethanol as part of Migros Plus Oeco Power and Potz cleaning ranges. The CarbonSmart Ethanol is produced from recycled carbon from steel emissions. The new pathway reduces greenhouse gas emissions and keeps additional fossil resources in the ground, protects biodiversity and avoids land use change. The significant contribution to sustainability was validated through an independent life cycle analysis and the approach received support from experts at the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Switzerland.
Malai Biomaterials Design (India): Malai – plant leather made from coconut wastewater and natural fibers
Malai is a novel bio-composite material based on bacterial cellulose cultivated on wastewater from mature coconuts blended with fibers from banana stem, hemp and sisal. It is made without any oil-based or toxic substances, is bio-based and home compostable. Similar to leather in its properties and appearance, the material is used for accessories such as bags and purses. Malai works with wastewater from coconut processing plants in Southern India. A small coconut plant disposes of about 4,000 l of this water/day. Such wastewater is usually discharged into the environment, where it acidifies the soil. Malai collects and sterilizes the water, which can then be used as feed for the bacteria. This bacterium produces nanocellulose sheets, which are further enriched with natural fibers to obtain the final material.
Plantics (Netherlands) & Vepa (Netherlands): Most sustainable chair ever from hemp fibers and thermoset bio-resin
Dutch furniture manufacturer Vepa has launched a collection of chairs where the used materials hemp fiber and bio-resin are both fully biological, plant-based and recyclable. They are part of a new family of bio-based materials that has been developed by Plantics and is patented worldwide for many different applications.
The collection is produced entirely in the Netherlands and currently includes chairs and bar stools. The production process absorbs more CO2 than it emits. In addition, the chairs are designed in such a way that the various parts are easy to separate and materials can be reused endlessly.
The Renewable Materials Conference is an opportunity to build new networks and present solutions to other industries. One-on-one meetings can easily be arranged by an advanced online conference system.
For further information: www.renewable-materials.eu