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BASF develops biodegradable plastic based on renewable raw materials


* Ecovio® consists of 45 percent polylactic acid obtained from corn
* Global launch planned for 2006
* World market for biodegradable plastics expected to grow by more than 20 percent per year

BASF has developed its first biodegradable plastic based on renewable raw materials. The plastic Ecovio® consists of 45 percent polylactic acid, a material obtained from corn (maize). The other component is BASF’s existing biodegradable plastic Ecoflex®, which is derived from petrochemicals. BASF plans to start marketing Ecovio® in Europe next spring. The product is also to be launched in Asia and North America in 2006.

“The global market for biodegradable plastics is still small, but is growing very rapidly. Ecovio® will enable us to further increase our market share in this attractive business,” said Dr. Fred Baumgartner, head of BASF’s Styrenics division. In the next five years BASF expects the world market for biodegradable plastics to grow by more than 20 percent per year. Even now, the company is one of the world’s leading suppliers in this area thanks to Ecoflex®.

On the one hand, Ecovio® can be used to produce flexible films from which biodegradable carrier bags or other packaging can be made. On the other hand, items such as mobile phone housings and yogurt cups can be produced if other components are added to Ecovio®. Particularly diverse product characteristics and applications are made possible by combining the new plastic with the established biodegradable material Ecoflex®.

Biodegradable plastics are completely degraded within a few weeks under compositing conditions and may be produced from either petrochemical or renewable raw materials. In terms of sustainability, Ecovio® offers an additional advantage: The polylactic acid used in its manufacture is largely carbon dioxide-neutral when composted.


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