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

Akro-Plastic buying German subsidiary from Metabolix

October 24, 2014 3:32 pm ET

Akro-Plastic GmbH, a Niederzissen, Germany-based plastic compounder, has purchased the assets of Metabolix Inc.'s subsidiary in Germany.    More

Image

German export sales strong, push for energy savings continues

October 24, 2014 12:34 pm ET

Germany is the engine that drives the European economy — and when it comes to the plastics industry, German machinery is a potent force, an...    More

Image

BASF pre-tax earnings rise, but will miss financial targets for 2015

October 24, 2014 10:16 am ET

BASF SE has raised its expectations for pre-tax earnings in 2014 but warned that it would not hit its financial targets for next year.    More

Image

Sabic, Shell cancel expansion for SADAF joint venture in Saudi Arabia

October 24, 2014 9:19 am ET

Saudi Basic Industries Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell have cancelled plans to expand an existing petrochemical joint venture in Saudi Arabia following...    More

Image

Sadara CEO says Middle East now has 20 percent of global ethylene capacity

October 24, 2014 9:33 am ET

Sadara CEO Ziad Al-Labban claims that the Middle East's ethylene capacity is now 20 percent of global production.    More

Market Reports

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 million dollar 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

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

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

More Events