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How environmentally friendly carrier bags are being made from starches and vegetable oils

In partnership with The European Commission
How environmentally friendly carrier bags are being made from starches and vegetable oils
By Katy Dartford
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We take a look at how MATER-BI, a family of completely biodegradable and compostable bioplastics, are made at Novamont in Northern Italy.

How do you produce biodegradable and compostable bioplastics?

Novamont, a pilot plant in northern Italy, has the secret recipe.

They mix and harden natural raw materials such as corn starch, cellulose, and vegetable oils and then send them off into a rather unusual manufacturing chain:

"This is what we technically call an "air bubble film extrusion plant," explains Alessandro D´elicio, an industrial chemist at Novamont. "This system transforms bioplastic grains into a film."

These films are biodegradable and compostable bioplastics, known as MATER-BI and they are being used to provide low environmental impact solutions for everyday products.

Alessandro D´elicio explains the production process:

"After being carefully dosed inside the extrusion machines, the biomaterials are pushed through the whole chain at given temperatures and thanks to endless screws."

"Here the materials will form a tube shape. The tube is then blown to create a sort of bubble of plastic film that will be attached to the chain with a system of successive calenders".

"Once they are manufactured in reels, these materials are ready to be transformed into products such as bioplastic shopping bags of different formats and sizes."

These MATER-BI carrier bags have all the benefits of traditional bags (strength, water resistance, etc) but are certified as biodegradable and compostable and as such can also be reused for the collection of food waste.

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