Plant-Based Plastics Gain Favour as Companies Pursue Sustainability Goals | Kanebridge News
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Plant-Based Plastics Gain Favour as Companies Pursue Sustainability Goals

Bioplastic production is growing at a record clip amid strong demand from fashion and food-packaging companies, in particular

By DIETER HOLGER
Mon, Aug 21, 2023 9:17amGrey Clock 4 min

The future is more plastic. Plant-based plastic, that is.

Plant-based plastics, or bioplastics, have accounted for just 1% of the world’s plastic production for well over a decade, according to a review of more than 100 companies by research organisation nova-Institute. Bioplastics haven’t taken off largely because they are typically 50% to 80% more expensive than traditional fossil-fuel-based plastics, but their production is now growing 14% a year, putting them on track to reach up to 3% of the plastics market in the next five years.

Bioplastics are expanding faster than recycled plastic in some cases, such as in Asian countries like China and Japan that are mandating more ecologically friendly materials, nova-Institute founder Michael Carus said. Even if global plastic recycling rates someday reach 70% compared with around 9% today, bioplastics alongside materials made from captured carbon dioxide will have a big role to play asthe world transitions away from fossil-fuel-based materials, he said.

“Not one of them can do it alone,” Carus said, referring to the sustainable materials that will drive the green transition.

Bioplastics’ benefits

Bioplastics are usually derived from plants rich in starch, sugar or pulp, such as corn, wheat, sugar cane, wood and cotton, which makes them costlier than plastics made from fossil fuels because crops need fertiliser and other resources such as water. However, the environmental benefits of plant-based plastics are increasingly appealing to companies promising to use more sustainable materials by the end of the decade.

Plants absorb the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide, which cuts the greenhouse-gas emissions from making bioplastics to at least half that of fossil-fuel-based plastics. Bioplastics can also sometimes cause less pollution when they degrade in the environment.

Broadly, there are two types of bioplastics: Materials that have similar performance to plastic, such as pulp-derived cellulose acetate found in eyeglasses and textiles, and bioplastics that are chemically identical to conventional plastics, such as a polyethylene, polyester and nylon. Around half of today’s bioplastics are biodegradable, according to nova-Institute, meaning they break down more naturally and are less harmful to habitats. Still, many of these bioplastics require industrial composting facilities to degrade and aren’t designed to be thrown away in a home garden.

Some of the earliest adopters of bioplastics are fashion companies, including Lululemon, which has a goal to replace the majority of oil-based nylon with plant-based nylon by 2030. A big selling point for the sportswear company is using plants to make chemically identical nylon that can be easily switched in, but still cuts emissions by nearly half.

The strongest demand for bioplastics is currently from fashion and food-packaging companies, but interest is also rising from companies in cosmetics, electronics and more durable goods such as tools, Eastman Chemical’s Chief Technology Officer Chris Killian said.

Eastman, formerly a division of Kodak, earns more than $1 billion of its $10 billion or so in yearly sales from bioplastics made from cellulose acetate, a material it has produced for more than 70 years. Cellulose acetate, which Eastman makes from cotton linters and wood pulp, was first used in Kodak film in the company’s early days, but it is now expanding into packaging, textiles and other applications. In 2022, Eastman signed an agreement with Warby Parker for the material to be used in eyewear.

“It has a great deal of legs,” he said of the cellulose acetate-derived plastics.

Challenges ahead

Plant-based plastics remain a tough sell because fossil-fuel-based plastics are much cheaper, but prices could fall if companies continue to buy more bioplastics and governments encourage their use. This year, the Biden administration called on the federal government to assess the potential for biomaterials, including for plastics, fuels and medicines. And last year, the U.S. Defense Department said it would invest $1.2 billion in bio manufacturing. The European Union is also considering mandating bioplastics under packaging rules that are being discussed.

In the U.S., there is government support at the state and federal level to convert biological raw materials into fuels such as ethanol, but that level of support doesn’t yet exist for plant-based plastics, said Manav Lahoti, chemical giant Dow’s global sustainability director, olefins, aromatics and alternatives.

“The market is ready to take off on the demand side,” he said. “But to make the economics work, there is some regulatory support that is required.”

Another hurdle to scaling up bioplastics is what happens at their end of life. Only plant-based plastics that are chemically identical to fossil-fuelbased versions can enter the existing and growing recycling infrastructure. The world’s limited amount of feedstock, which often goes to feeding cattle and other livestock, also presents challenges to using more bioplastics.

One answer: turning agricultural waste into recyclable plastics.

This year, Dow struck an agreement with biomass refinery startup New Energy Blue to buy bioethylene made from the stalks and leaves of corn grown in Iowa. Dow will then make conventional and recyclable plastics from the material and sell to companies in transportation, footwear, and packaging.

Dow is already providing bioplastics for Crocs shoes and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s perfume packaging, and sees demand outstripping supply, said Haley Lowry, Dow’s global sustainability director for packaging and specialty plastics.

“We are trying to find more sources,” she said. “The demand from our customers is there; it’s really finding the sources of biofeed that makes sense.”



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Designing Dreams: David Charette’s fascinating Spaces for Children’s Adventures

David Charette has teamed up with CIRCU Magical Furniture to design spaces that capture the essence of childhood wonder.

Tue, May 21, 2024 4 min

This collaboration between David Charette, founder and principal of Britto Charette, and CIRCU Magical Furniture aims to stimulate the imaginations of children, encouraging them to invent their own tales of adventure. Drawing on his extensive travels, Charette believes that journeying through different cultures can spark creativity in young minds.

His latest venture uses a mix of luxury elements and magical themes, incorporating products from CIRCU, Covet House, and other vendors to create unique, enchanting children’s rooms. These spaces are designed to reflect the excitement and mystery of exploring new worlds.

The Sleeping are:

David Charette has transformed a Montreal residence into a magical sleeping area where time seems to pause, and adventures await. Known for its long, cold winters and short days, Montreal served as the perfect backdrop for Charette’s vision of a space that remains warm and bright throughout the year.

Central to the design is the concept of “light and bright,” brought to life using de Gournay‘s hand-painted wall coverings in fresh mint, decorated with flying butterflies. These elements beautifully complement the original shapes of the KOKET Nymph Wall Lamp and the organic curves of the CIRCU Tristen Bed.

Charette’s attachment to the Tristen Bed stems not only from its youthful appeal but also from its ergonomic design, which makes it easy for children to climb in and out of, enhancing both its functionality and charm.

The Bed:

Charette paired the modern lines of the bed with the unique design of the Boca do Lobo Wave Nightstand and the funky style of Delightfull’s Billy Table Lamp. By blending these contemporary pieces with the classic elements in the decor of this luxury kids’ room, Charette has crafted a unique space that breathes a natural breeze of inspiration into any child’s environment.

This combination not only adds aesthetic appeal but also stimulates the imagination, making the room a perfect sanctuary for creativity and dreams.

The seating area:

The room also includes a cozy seating area perfect for young readers. Centred around the CIRCU Dainty Armchair, this space is tailored for kids, with the chair’s delicate structure and elegant design enhancing the room’s charm. Its pink velvet upholstery adds a vibrant pop of color, enriching the room’s palette. To distinctly separate this reading corner from the rest of the sleeping area, Charette chose the Boca Do Lobo Gold Folding Screen from Covet House, which not only adds an element of privacy but also contributes a touch of sophistication to the space.

The Play and Study area:

David Charette aimed to create a space with an “Out of Africa” vibe to spark a child’s imagination and inspire a passion for lifelong adventures and travels. Drawing from fond memories of camping during his own childhood, Charette incorporated a Teepee Tent into the room’s design, allowing children to feel as they are camping in a forest right within their own bedroom.

This nature-inspired theme is beautifully complemented by the Fornasetti wall coverings from Cole & Son and the Filigree Cricket Wall Lamp, which are insect-shaped sconces by Boca do Lobo.

Adding to the ambiance, Charette notes, “The clouds on the ceiling further the idea of camping (in this case “glamping”) and dreaming, and the Circu Cloud Suspension lamps add to the dreamy camping vibe.”

To maintain this adventurous theme, Charette selected the CIRCU NODO Suspension Chair. It not only brings a hint of outdoor fun indoors with an elegant flair but also offers a comfy spot for kids to unwind and lose themselves in their favorite stories.

In his design, David Charette, of Britto Charette, focused on enhancing the sense of freedom and sparking children’s imaginations in their own space. He chose one of his favorite pieces from CIRCU, the Sky Desk, for its playful design and inspirational form. Shaped like an airplane, this desk not only becomes the central feature of playtime but also transforms homework into an exciting adventure. The unique design aims to captivate and motivate young minds, turning everyday tasks into a flight of imagination.

David Charette designed this luxury children’s room with the hope that it would inspire children to dream, play, and develop a deep respect for nature as they embark on their own adventures.

He crafted the room to be “transitional,” capable of evolving with a child from toddler years into adolescence. This design approach not only aims to create a lasting, imaginative space for children but also to show parents the value of investing in unique, high-quality pieces like those from Circu. These carefully chosen items stand out from mass-produced children’s designs, offering both aesthetic appeal and long-term utility.

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