The 2019 edition of the annual CBPM symposium organised by Wageningen University & Research underlined how reuse and end-of-life options are becoming an increasingly important component of product development for industry. There is also an ever-greater focus on this issue in the development of materials originating from plants.
A range of participants, mostly representatives from the private sector but also public authorities and research institutions, recently came together at Hotel De Wageningse Berg to share their knowledge about the latest developments in circular & biobased performance materials. “Due to the increasing awareness of climate change, companies are more and more committed to developing products that are recyclable and biodegradable,” said Christian Bolck, director of the CBPM research programme.
High tech polymer materials from alternative raw materials
German polymer manufacturer Covestro is an example of a company that is fully engaged in the transition from fossil to a circular and biobased economy. It is also fully committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. "We consider alternative raw materials, such as biomass, CO2 and waste, as a feedstock to reduce our impact on the planet,” said Covestro’s R&D Manager Verena Goldbach, mentioning biobased polyurethane dispersions as an example. In the long term, the company aims to reduce the dependence on fossil raw materials by utilizing biobased alternatives and direct CO2 conversion.
Lignin: an excellent option for asphalt
Another polymer with considerable potential is lignin. According to scientist Richard Gosselink from Wageningen Food & Biobased Research, this natural adhesive has all the characteristics necessary to grow into a pillar of the circular & biobased economy. A good example is its use as a binder in asphalt, as Gosselink explained. “Lignin is more water-resistant than bitumen and can be processed at lower temperatures, which enables huge reductions in CO2.” Practical tests have shown that asphalt with lignin works very well, added Gosselink. “It scores better than conventional asphalt on noise reduction, rolling resistance and brake deceleration.”