MATERIALS: Fine-Ground Cellulosic Filler Used in Renewable Compounds

Microscopic cellulose particles enhance properties and renewable content.

In the last two years, Eco Bio Plastics Midland, Inc., (EBPM), Midland, Mich., has been using a new method to incorporate cellulosic material and post-industrial waste paper to create renewable plastic products. The patented technology originated at the Tokyo-based Eco Research Institute (ERI), one of Asia’s biggest bioplastics manufacturers. A subsequent joint venture with the Michigan Molecular Institute in Midland, a leader in polymer research, has allowed for the “earth-friendly” composite resin, called MAPKA, to be made available to North American processors, with EBPM and ERI jointly holding the exclusive technology.

MAPKA compounds with wholly or partially renewable content can be based on virgin or recycled materials like PP, LDPE, HDPE, ABS, EVA, as well as PLA and PHA bioresins. The compounds are created by dry-grinding various types of cellulose down to a mean particle size of 20 microns and incorporating the filler into the plastics. The cellulosic fillers can comprise up to 65% of the total weight, enhancing the physical and mechanical properties while remaining virtually undetectable to the naked eye.

While incorporation of cellulosic material into plastics is not new, EBPM’s patented pulverization technology reportedly allows production of significantly enhanced properties. “When you compound plastic with organic material, you need that material to be a very fine powder. We are the only manufacturer in the world with the ability to do that on a large, commercially viable scale,” explains Fukuji Saotome, EBPM’s v.p.

The company can customize the compounds to fit specific property requirements and applications, ranging from housewares and consumer goods to building products and automotive components. Moreover, EBPM offers “closed-loop recycling systems” for companies with their own scrap paper materials.