Back to the biobase(d)

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Back to the biobase

With 9 million hectares of sugar cane plantations and 560 million tonnes of sugar cane harvested every year, Brazil is the largest producer of sugar cane in the world. The production is located in the central southern states such as Sao Paulo, which is located 3000 kilometers south of the Amazon rainforest. For Eurobottle and Flestic the perfect place to start our search for the origin of our bio-based products.

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Our story

We are in Presidente Prudente, the capital of the Brazilian sugar cane region. It is winter here, 28 degrees and sugar cane grows far beyond the horizon. In this part of Brazil, the sector offers a job with income to no less than 4.5 million people. The plants grow here, for a year, to a height of about 3 meters after which they are ready to be harvested. The trunk sucks with water during the growth period, after which the plant itself, under the influence of photosynthesis, produces sugar and stores it in the trunk. This creates a substance of sugar and water. During harvesting, the stem is separated from the leaf and the root. The leaves serve as compost for the next generations that can grow up from the remaining roots. The tribes are collected and transported to the location of our partner Atvos. Here the sugar water is removed from the stem and further processed.

We have left the sugar cane fields of Presidente Prudente behind us and leave eastwards to the more inhabited world. After 2 hours driving on roads with both left and right sugar cane to the horizon we arrive at the location of Atvos. Here an almost fully automated process ensures the separation of the sugar water from sugar cane and the conversion to Ethanol. The separation process consists of five steps. During the first steps the pure sugar water is pressed from the stem. Cane sugar is made from this, about 90 million tons of sugar on an annual basis. In the next steps, the rougher sugar water is squeezed out of the plant. This sugar water is very suitable for processing into ethanol. Brazil produces more than 22.6 billion liters of this bioethanol every year.

In addition to sugar and bioethanol, ‘bagasse’ remains. A fibrous substance that remains after the sugar water has been squeezed out of the stem. bagasse is a literal translation of ‘waste’, although this is looked at in a very different way. The bagasse is in fact used to provide all processes on the site with energy. During the combustion, steam is generated and converted into energy. As a result, the entire location is self-sufficient and, as the largest producer of energy from biomass, it returns to the electricity grid. The choice for a bio-based packaging is therefore not only because of the green properties of sugar cane, but also the processing process done in a responsible and sustainable way.

At the following location we look at the process of converting ethanol to Green-PE.

In the past few weeks we have seen how sugar cane grows and is processed on the plantations of Presidente Prudente. Our story continues in the Rio Grande do Sul region, the most southern province of Brazil. Here, at the location of our partner Braskem, bioethanol will be converted into green Polyethylene. Each year more than 22.6 billion liters of this bio-ethanol is produced and processed in Brazil. Part of this is used to serve as fuel for more than half of all cars in the country. Another part of the bioethanol is converted into plastic. Here we dive deeper.

The ethanol from sugar cane is converted into Green ethylene by means of a dehydration process. The Green ethylene undergoes polymerization, a process where small molecules are linked together, creating polyethylene. I’m green Polyethylene, the plastic made from sugar cane. Braskem produces over 200,000 tons of I’m green Polyethylene on an annual basis and this number keeps growing. Here the I’m green Polyethylene is transported to our own location in Dronten!

In our next blog we fly back to the Netherlands and we look at the production process of packaging made from I’m green Polyethylene!

In the Netherlands, we are back on familiar soil, where we look at how the I’m green Polyethylene is used to make our biobased products. The location of the Eurobottle Flestic holding B.V. is located in Dronten. With 37 extrusion blowers and 26 injection molding machines, it is admittedly a medium-sized production location, but very specialized in producing green and sustainable packaging. The bottle is produced by the extrusion blower technique. Here the biobased raw material is inflated and formed by the mold walls. The cap is produced with the injection molding technique. Here the biobased raw material is injected into a mold under high pressure and cooled down.

The Eurobottle Flestic holding B.V. some 60,000 kilos of green polyethylene in its products. Together with these developments we are building a closed circular economy in which we try to reduce the use of polluting raw materials as much as possible and promote recycling. With this we take our responsibility towards society and we try to reduce the ecological footprint.

Our search for the creation of biobased plastics!

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