Towards the end of 2010, the world of media and telecommunications began asking for sustainable packaging solutions. In the search for solutions, PLA (a biobased plastic made from maize and sugar cane, among other things) was the obvious choice because it was the market leader in bioplastics then, as it is now. But PLA was and is more expensive than fossil plastics.
Since mixing with other materials was and is not unknown in the plastics industry and tempting solutions such as mixing PLA with fossil variants were obvious. Good for the overall product performance and good for the cost price, but not good for the environment once the packaging becomes waste.
At that time, an alternative material, namely pure palm leaf, was being tested. A material that has been used in many countries located around the equator, but mainly in India and South-East Asia, for plates and bowls since time immemorial. But as packaging, it was also expensive and not at all suitable for industrial use.
The palm leaf material had some unexpected properties, and after becoming deformed, e.g. by getting wet or being kept in the fridge, it returned to its original shape once it dried out.
And so, the idea arose that it would probably be more useful as part of a PLA than on its own. After coarsely grinding it, it was inserted into an injection moulding machine with PLA Straightaway, a number of things were noticeable. The coarse fibres seemed to ‘dissolve’ in the PLA; flow, temperature and hence the cycle time were noticeably positively affected, and the injection-moulded product came out feeling solid and with all the small details intact.
Through the mixing process, it became clear that a “sustainable and not more expensive” feasible solution had been found.
Several studies revealed that the new HemCell biopolymer matrix really is a new matrix and not a composite or compound. Tinkering with the composition of up to seven components yielded several different recipes, each with its own specifications.
HemCell biopolymer is cold soil-compostable, whereas PLA is industrially compostable. In addition, it has a lower processing temperature, high degree of heat resistance and a lower specific weight.
The applications are countless, think of, for example;
This enables a major step to be taken towards reducing plastic pollution, which is very important for the environment, as well as for people and animals.