Another relevant agreement in the Italian bioeconomy. Biotech company Bio-on and Pizzoli S.p.A., Italy’s largest operator in the potato sector, will collaborate to build Italy’s first PHAs bioplastic production plant using waste product from the potato agro-industrial process.
The collaboration, signed by the two companies, arises from Bio-on’s laboratory research and Pizzoli’s experience in potato transformation, and aims to build a plant producing 2,000 ton/year of PHAs, expanding to 4,000 ton/year in the future. PHAs, or polyhydroxyalkanoates, are bioplastics that can replace a number of traditional plastics currently made with petrochemical processes using hydrocarbons.
PHAs guarantee the same thermo-mechanical properties with the advantage of being completely naturally biodegradable.
“It’s a big step forward in the world of bioplastics,” explains Marco Astorri, Chairman of Bio-on S.p.A., “because it demonstrates how waste can be converted into raw material, teaming concepts such as biodegradability and eco-sustainability with technically advanced plastics. This collaboration represents an important factor in the affirmation of PHA in the latest-generation plastics market.”
“The path undertaken,” says Nicola Pizzoli, Chairman of Pizzoli S.p.A., “is part of an innovative industrial project aiming to improve and optimise potato processing technology, by transforming the by-products and waste into innovative products that will become new-generation plastics.”
Following an initial study phase to optimise the integration with existing structures and check economic compatibility, the project is set to be completed within approximately two years. The new plants will start production in 2017.
“We will begin with a €220 thousand investment for the feasibility study,” explains Pizzoli, “but the real challenge will lie with future investments in an integrated industrial facility, serving the food sector and with zero environmental impact.”
“The collaboration between Bio-on and Pizzoli adds a new “ingredient” to the construction of the Italian green chemical industry,” says Astorri, “and it also enables us to broaden the number of raw materials from which PHAs can be made using Bio-on technology. Our bioplastic can already be produced from sugar beet and sugar cane production waste.”