Materials: Home-Compostable Biopolymer Alternative to Single-Use Plastics
Celanese’s new BlueRidge cellulosic for extrusion and injection molding aimed at hard-to-recycle single-use plastics.
A new home-compostable cellulosic designed as an alternative to hard-to-recycle single-use plastics has been launched by Celanese, Irving, Texas. BlueRidge T160 is a naturally transparent cellulose acetate based compound for injection molding and extrusion applications with both U.S. and EU food-contact compliance.
BlueRidge is primarily based on cellulose acetate, which is produced using cellulose from sustainably forested trees. The resulting material is recognized as being home and industrial compostable as well as broadly biodegradable in a range of environments, ultimately breaking down into glucose and vinegar, which are readily consumed in nature. Celanese is a leading global producer of cellulose acetate as well as a leading global producer and supplier of engineered polymers with worldwide production capability providing local material supply to all regions of the world. This combined strength in cellulose acetate and polymer compounding capability enables Celanese to support the largest-scale demand for BlueRidge Cellulosic Pellets, according to Celanese chairman and CEO Lori Ryerkerk.
Said Ryerkerk, “We’ve studied how developments in sustainability impact the markets we serve and how we can better meet these growing demands; and we see the challenge of single-use plastic waste as one we are uniquely positioned to potentially tackle in a novel and significant way. Celanese welcomes the launch of BlueRidge Cellulosic Pellets as the company’s next leap forward with a sustainable and compostable alternative to plastic.”
Although its chemical composition is more that of paper than plastic, BlueRidge pellets rare designed to be processed on conventional plastics machinery without having to sacrifice functionality and features.The material is said to offer improved mechanical and temperature performance relative to other common biobased and biodegradable polymers, particularly as a fully transparent material. It is proving to be a material with potential value in many rigid single-use products, such as straws, cutlery, lids, containers and packaging, among many other uses.
Celanese sources confirm that BlueRidge bioplastic has properties most similar to ABS, but can be a drop-in replacement for such large volume commodity resins as PE, PP and PET. It can be processed on most conventional plastics equipment including injection molding, extrusion and thermoforming. While the base material is most suited for rigid applications and is the current focus area, grades for more flexible applications may be available in the future.
Injection molders are just becoming acquainted with this new class of molding materials. It pays to learn some basic processing guidelines before jumping in.
Though often criticized, MFR is a very good gauge of the relative average molecular weight of the polymer. Since molecular weight (MW) is the driving force behind performance in polymers, it turns out to be a very useful number.
Molders should realize how significantly process conditions can influence the final properties of the part.