Plastic pollution is a well-known issue of todays society. The majority of plastics can not completely degrade in nature and therefore plastic waste is found anywhere in the environment. To combat plastic pollution, the way plastics are designed must change. Here we introduce the highly promising bio-based plastic called polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA).
What are the advantages of PHA?
Polyhydroxyalkanoates have some unique characteristics that makes them a very interesting substitute for conventional plastics. First of all, PHAs’ bio-based nature makes them independent of fossil raw materials and thus do not contribute to global warming. PHA’s are namely produced by many species of naturally occurring bacteria that are able to convert biological materials into plastics. There are more than 155 confirmed unique PHA monomer subunits which provide different material properties. Thus, there is a diversity of possible PHA polymers which provides unparalleled potential as substitute for fossil-based plastics in a wide range of applications.
Furthermore, PHA’s can be biodegraded on land as well as in sea which offers great potential for overcoming the plastic pollution problem. PHA’s are also biocompatible which makes them ideal for certain products, such as high-end applications in the medical industry. Additionally, PHA is the only biopolymer that can be produced from organic waste streams, such as industrial waste water for example. This is both cheap and reduces dependency on primary crops. PHA’s are therefore one of the most sustainable plastics there is.
Yet, large scale production of PHA has so far not been realised. The most important reasons for this are the insufficient and inconsistent quality of PHA and that PHA is simply still too expensive. On the other hand, the demand for sustainable alternatives for (fossil) plastics from consumers as well as producers is rapidly increasing. As a result, the PHA market is rapidly developing. PHA has also received a lot of attention on the EU-agenda (Circular Economy Action Plan, European Plastic Strategy) which further emphasizes the relevance of this bioplastics for the near future. Hence, it is time to take advantage of this momentum and accelerate the developments of PHA to full commercialisation.
What can we offer?
In order to meet the technical and economic challenges of PHA production mentioned above, an innovative production method is necessary to fully commercialize PHA and to make the plastics industry "greener". KNN Advies is a consultancy firm within the bio-based and circular economy who is busy with stepping up the PHA research and production.
KNN Advies is currently working together with an international group of parties (companies, knowledge -, and research institutes) in order to jointly develop and carry out a unique project for PHA research, production, and application. This project group makes use of cooperation among several research group across country borders as well as of members from the whole PHA value chain. This project has focus on making PHA’s suitable for various existing processing techniques, which also makes it attractive for companies in the existing plastic industry. Furthermore, biological feedstock from waste streams will be utilized being both cheap and renewable. This project is currently in the early stages, however, with our unique group and right timing we are convinced that we will succeed in taking PHA research and production to a next level.
Does this sound interesting?
Are you a plastic producer looking for sustainable options for your products? Or do you have organic waste streams which is currently just treated as well….waste? We are curious to hear from you and anyone interested in PHA’s as the new raw material for plastics. You can contact us HERE.