Bioplastics: Leading the Way to a Better World

Bioplastics: Leading the Way to a Better World

The World Economic Forum recently revealed the top 10 emerging technologies for 2019 that are expected to radically impact the global social and economic order. Top on the list is Bioplastics for a Circular Economy.

Less than 15% of the world’s plastic is recycled, with the rest incinerated, abandoned or sent to landfill. Biodegradable plastic offers a solution. The technology certainly benefits the circular economy. 

In Thailand, a chemical company, PTT Global Chemical (GC) continues to drive sustainable growth in line with the concept of Circular Economy, both internally and externally. The company is also building social awareness that will lead to changing behaviour regarding the more efficient use of resources which will, in turn, enable GC to reach its goal of becoming a model of sustainability.

GC is also committed to conducting its operations with an emphasis on resource efficiency and environmental conservation, as a foundation for sustainable operations, more efficient manufacturing processes, lower consumption, improved waste management, and reduced environmental impact. This involves applying circular economy principles to technological and biochemical improvements to reduce waste and environmental impacts throughout GC's supply chain. 

GC operates its business by applying circular economy principles both inside and outside the company, while at the same time increasing public awareness with a goal of changing behaviour to maximise the value of resources. A priority for GC is to become a role model of encouraging circular economy-led lifestyles known as the “Circular Living Concept”. 

GC's sustainable management practices cover four areas: resource management from upstream to downstream; production management using the "3Rs" (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle), which expands into "5Rs" (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse, and Renewables); efficient consumption; and effective waste management. Another area of focus for GC is upcycling – applying innovations and creativity to add more value to products. This is also in line with the principles of the circular economy.

GC focuses on bioplastics used to produce packaging in various forms. GC is the major shareholder in NatureWorks, the world’s largest producer of PLA (Polylactic Acid), headquartered in the USA. GC has a 50% share in PTTMCC Biochem, the leader in BioPBS (Bio Polybutylene Succinate). PLA and bioPBS are bioplastics widely used for sustainable products globally. Bioplastics are plastics derived from natural raw materials. They have similar properties as conventional plastics but can be composted into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass that can be used for crops and other plants or for feedstock as part of circular economy. Bio-based bioplastics are produced by fermentation that converts natural raw materials like sugar into monomer which is polymerized into bioplastic resin. Bioplastics have been successfully developed on a commercial scale worldwide. They include Polylactic Acid (PLA) and Biopolybutylene Succinate (BioPBS.Bioplastics), compostable materials that take six months to one year to decompose under appropriate conditions. 

GC works on bioplastics projects with various partners, including Benjarong BioPBS Coated Cup, Chulalongkorn University’s Zero Waste Cup, and Silpakorn University’s Be Smart Be Green Bioplastic straws. All aim to introduce environment-friendly products for sustainable lifestyles.

The latest initiative from the company is “GC Compostable Label”. GC has created labels certifying the products and packaging produced from compostable bioplastic pellets by GC group. This shows the intention to develop environment-friendly products, build confidence, and give assurance to consumers that the products they use are fully compostable and good for the environment, all in accordance with strict circular economy principles.

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