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 Materials, Sustainability, Mexico, Materials Suppliers

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

Oxford Polymers adds compounding capacity

January 30, 2015 1:16 pm ET

Materials maker Oxford Polymers has increased its compounding capacity by installing a new single-screw extrusion line.    More

Image

Marval's next generation expands capacity

January 30, 2015 1:27 pm ET

MAMARONECK, N.Y. — There’s a lot of history at Marval Industries Inc., but the 59-year-old compounding firm also is looking toward the...    More

Image

Lubrizol buys Brazil-based coatings technology manufacturer

January 30, 2015 11:50 am ET

Specialty chemicals company Lubrizol Corp. of Wickliffe, Ohio, said it has acquired a Brazilian company that makes coatings technology for products...    More

Image

2014 sees modest sales increase, but profit decrease, for Dow Chemical

January 29, 2015 4:20 pm ET

UPDATED — Dow Chemical Co. delivered modest sales growth in 2014, but the firm's profit took a tumble.    More

Image

Report: Brands are falling short on packaging sustainability

January 29, 2015 5:19 pm ET

Packaging in general, and plastic packaging in particular, has a long way to go in terms of recycling, according to a pair of environmental groups.    More

Market Reports

Plastics in Automotive: Innovation & Emerging Trends

This special report newly released by PN and sponsored by The Conair Group examines current trends in the use of plastics in automotive, materials innovations and the changing landscape. It includes a review of legislative/regulatory activity impacting vehicle development and lightweighting, market opportunities & challenges for mold and toolmakers, innovative design strategies being implemented by major OEMs and suppliers, as well as a review of key indicators in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and China.

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

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

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

More Events