Schindellegi, Switzerland, August 29, 2017 – Sukano, a world leader in the
development and production of additive and colour masterbatches and
compounds for polyester and specialty resins, today announced the results
of its initiative to rethink the materials used to manufacture drinking straws.
Using Sukano’s additive masterbatches portfolio based on NatureWorks’ Ingeo™
PLA bioplastic, it is now possible to have a material for straws that achieves
the expected performance attributes, is renewably-sourced and manufactured
cleanly – yet still provides desired after-use options such as compostability.
An alternative to oil-based plastics
Straws, today made mostly from polypropylene, present a variety of technical
challenges for alternative new materials seeking to bring new functionality.
For example, narrow U-shaped straws for juice boxes must be articulated and have
a high flexibility modulus. As straws are manufactured, edges must be cut smoothly
to prevent unsafe sharp or rough edges and visual aesthetics such as transparency
are also critical. These are just a few of the many specifications new materials must
meet for adoption into this market application. Solving this problem required a
unique combination of innovation and expertise. The demand for disposable straws is
expected to grow, driven in part by consumer desire for convenience, meals on the go,
and consumption of more specialty drinks. There is therefore a place for materials that
provide complete, responsible lifecycle solutions while providing the functionality
Straw Trek – the next generation
So when Sukano and NatureWorks, two global market leaders in PLA – and its
modification for optimal product performance – got together, a new, broad market
opportunity was born. Sukano masterbatches reduce the brittleness of PLA, which
allows precise cutting during production and avoids splintering and rough edges.
Combining melt enhancer additives in Ingeo™-based PLA masterbatches, Sukano
The last decade has seen the advent of plastics made from renewable resources (or
bioplastics) entering the mainstream for packaging.
Bioplastics like polylactic acid (PLA) have been viewed as sustainable in sourcing,
manufacture and after-use – but, until today, they were unable to meet the market’s
criteria for performance in straws and replace the use of polypropelene. There is an
opportunity to broaden the perspective on bioplastic materials for packaging.
"We are thrilled that this collaboration between key players in the value
chain allows us to bring an innovative alternative to the market. Using our
combined experience, we are able to modify Ingeo™ PLA to customize its
performance for a new end market – providing benefits to consumers and
companies," comments Alessandra Funcia, Head of Marketing at Sukano.
"At NatureWorks, we are helping rethink plastics. The replacement of conventional
oil-based polypropylene by Ingeo™ in drinking straws is just one example of how
bioplastics can help address sustainability, while still providing the high performance
material required for this application," concludes Steve Davies, Commercial Director –
NatureWorks Performance Packaging.
Sukano is a world leader in the development and production of additive and colour
masterbatches and compounds for polyester and specialty resins. The company
develops innovative products and services for oil and bio-based polymers for applications
such as thin and thick films, bottles and containers, fibers, filaments, and sheets.
Founded in 1988 and headquartered in Switzerland, Sukano has a
global distribution network and three production facilities strategically
located in Europe, the Middle-East & Africa, the Americas and Asia.
Providing unparalleled service, knowhow, and quality to its customers worldwide,
Sukano is the global partner of choice for plastic converters and brand owners.
NatureWorks is an advanced materials company offering a broad portfolio of
renewably sourced polymers and chemicals to the packaging, polymers, fibers, and
chemicals markets. With performance and economics that compete with oil-based
plastics and fibers, naturally advanced Ingeo™ polymers are valued for their unique
functional properties and used in a range of products from coffee capsules and
electronics to diapers and wipes. Creating performance through chemistry, Vercet™
lactide-based solutions help innovators realize significant, measurable performance
and cost advantages in products such as C.A.S.E. (coatings, adhesives, sealants, and
elastomers), toners, and surfactants. NatureWorks is jointly owned by Thailand’s
largest and ASEAN’s leading integrated petrochemical and refining company, PTT
Global Chemical, and Cargill, which provides food, agriculture, financial and industrial
products and services to the world.
www.natureworksllc.com; follow NatureWorks on Twitter @natureworks