Mexican researchers point to potential of natural fiber feedstocks

By Stephen Downer
Correspondent

Published: December 2, 2013 4:20 pm ET
Updated: December 2, 2013 5:45 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Sustainability, Materials, Materials Suppliers, Mexico

QUERETARO, MEXICO — Mexico has a host of natural fibers that could be used in the manufacture of biodegradable polymers, according to studies conducted at a leading research center in the country.

The National Polytechnical Institute's Center for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV) in Querétaro used starch taken from native corn and sugarcane fiber to make plates, using glycerol as a plastifying agent.

In a paper describing the research, the team, led by Fernando Martínez Bustos, a chemical engineer, writes that Mexico has available to it at least 77 million tons of natural fibers found in agricultural residues, 50 percent of them corn, followed by wheat, sorghum and sugar cane, from which starch can be extracted.

"Other potential sources of fibers, such as sisal, lechugillas, palm trees, blue tequila, mezcal and pulque agave plants, forest residues and so on are also available," the four-man research team points out.

In an interview via email, Martínez Bustos told Plastics News the team has made "significant advances" in the field of organic or natural polymers.

Asked about the level of interest within the Mexican plastics industry in commercializing such polymers, Martínez Bustos said some companies are interested because of the high cost of importing materials whose biodegradability is often not guaranteed.

But "unfortunately, the funds for research in this area are very limited, probably because of a lack of consciousness of the importance of the development of these biodegradable materials."

A "great help" towards making the project commercially viable would be if the government passed laws making the use of biodegradable materials obligatory, he said. "It's a question of [having] the proper incentives, some economic, some social and some legal."

And he added progress could also be made if Mexican or international industry were interested enough to "do the life cycle analysis and industrial-level testing that [would] demonstrate the economic benefits" of organic polymers.

According to Martínez Bustos and his team, Mexico produces 32 million tons of urban garbage a year, 4 percent (1.28 million tons) of which is plastic. Only about 9.43 percent of the plastic waste is recycled, they say.


Comments

Mexican researchers point to potential of natural fiber feedstocks

By Stephen Downer
Correspondent

Published: December 2, 2013 4:20 pm ET
Updated: December 2, 2013 5:45 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Indian auto parts maker set to buy assets in Germany, Mexico

December 18, 2014 10:35 am ET

Indian auto parts maker Samvardhana Motherson Gropup is buying the assets of insolvent German plastics car parts producer Scherer & Trier (S&T).    More

McCann expanding in Ohio

December 17, 2014 11:59 am ET

Compounding firm McCann Plastics will spend $1.2 million on an expansion project that will create 15 new jobs at its plant in Green, Ohio.    More

Image

New extruders, repelletizer to improve production for InterGroup

December 17, 2014 6:00 am ET

InterGroup International Ltd. will install new, larger extruders and repelletizers at all three of its plastic scrap recycling locations in 2015.    More

Image

Investments allow UK's Jayplas to keep recycling supply chain at home

December 17, 2014 9:32 am ET

Corby, England-based plastics recycler Jayplas has announced the completion of a new extrusion and printing plant, together with a new packaging...    More

Image

Ecojug trims HDPE from milk jugs

December 17, 2014 8:57 am ET

United Diary Inc. has saved 1.7 million pounds of high density polythylene during the production of 80 million of its new Ecojug milk jug design since...    More

Market Reports

Flexible Packaging Trends in North America

Our latest RESEARCH report examines trends in FLEXIBLE PACKAGING impacting the North American market including a review of economic conditions, key drivers of growth, materials pricing, M&A activity, sustainability challenges and the outlook for 2015.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events