A compostable plastic made from nanoengineered polylactic acid (PLA) is designed to meet the demands of high-temperature thermoforming packaging.
Standalone PLA has a heat resistance of about 105°F (44°c), while the new engineered resin from Cereplast incorporates nanotechnology and a patented process that allows it to reach up to 155°F (68°c).
Cereplast said this week it is marketing its high-temperature resistant CP-TH-6000 at a price lower than conventional styrenic thermoformed resin.
"At a time of an increasing demand for bioplastics, fuelled in part by rising oil prices, Cereplast believes that this new resin will assist in accelerating adoption," the company said.
Cereplast now offers 15 different grades of resins in its compostable range of plastics, a bid to cover all the various packaging needs on the market, stated Frederic Scheer, the company's chairman and chief executive.
"Although biodegradable and compostable resins have generated a lot of interest in the past few years, it is clear that one of the limitations was the temperature resistance that at best reached 140°F," he stated. "CP-TH-6000 has a high temperature limit, which clearly sets it apart from its competitors."
The resin is based on PLA supplied by NatureWorks, which derives the material from corn. CP-TH-6000 was engineered over several months by Cereplast's research and development team.
CP-TH-6000 meets ASTM 6400, an international standard for compostable materials, he claimed.
Earlier last month Cereplast also launched biopropylene, as part of a new family of resins. Cereplast Hybrids Biopropylene has heat resistant properties up to 250°F (121°c), the company claims.
Cereplast is one of the growing number of companies entering the biodegradable and compostable packaging market, which is being driven by increasing consumer pressure and new environmental regulations designed to cut down on waste.
These materials are made from a variety of plants, in the main corn, in response to projections that the demand for environmentally-friendly packaging will increase rapidly.
Some companies predict that the market will grow by about 20 per cent a year, and the products are an alternative to petroleum-based packaging such as the widely-used polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
This year, Cargill announced it was teaming up with Japan-based Teijin to produce PLA. A similar alliance has been formed between DuPont and Plantic. Materials such as PLA and PHA are made from a variety of plants.
To produce PLA manufacturers use a chemical polymerisation process to transform renewable raw materials such as corn into a biodegradable biopolymer.
Meanwhile biodegradable polymers such as polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), PHV and PHB are produced by the actions of genetically modified micro-organisms.
Demand for bioplastics in Europe experienced its first boom last year, according to a survey by the European Bioplastics Association, which has about 70 members.
Currently bioplastics accounted for less than one percent of the European plastics market last year, according to the organisation, though environmental based mandates from retailers might drive that share higher.