Social Needs and Kaneka’s Plan
The government and companies are accelerating actions amid increasing concerns over the impact of micro-plastics on the ecosystem.
Plastic products are convenient and essential in our daily lives. Meanwhile, there are increasing concerns that micro-plastics, which are floating in the oceans without being properly disposed of, have an adverse impact on the ecosystem and human health.
These marine plastic pollution issues are accelerating the global movement to reduce the use of disposable plastic products. The UK plans to ban their use in 2019, followed by EU countries. In this situation, major food and beverage manufacturers and fast food chains across the world show considerable interest in biodegradable polymers, which are environmentally friendly plastics.
To hand down a beautiful global environment to future generations, we will contribute to resolving environmental pollution issues caused by disposable plastics through the development of new materials.
What is micro-plastic?
Micro-plastic refers to tiny plastic particles with a diameter of under 5 mm that break into fine pieces while adrift in the ocean.
Source: Jambeck et al. 2015
Kaneka Group’s Efforts
Putting 100% plant-based biopolymers to practical use for the first time in the world
Since 2009, we have fully focused on developing biodegradable biopolymer PHBH derived 100% from plants. Our development was realized by fusing our original fermentation technology cultivated through many years of research on yeast and our resin blending and processing technologies. This was the world’s first industrialization of biodegradable biopolymer PHBH.
Made from biomass, such as plant oils, PHBH is first accumulated in the bodies of microorganisms as polymers. These polymers are processed without the use of organic solvents and are commercialized. Unlike general plastics, PHBH is decomposed into carbon dioxide (CO2) and water in the natural environment, for example, in soil or water.
Lifecycle of biopolymer PHBH
Application examples of PHBH
Obtained the “OK Biodegradable MARINE” certificate
Expanding applications as a marine material
In November 2017, we obtained “OK Biodegradable MARINE” certification for PHBH. In March 2018, our biodegradable polymer PHBH was registered as a “Food Contact Substance” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These achievements enable us to use it as marine materials, food packaging materials and compost bags. We will accelerate the development of new biomass-based products with biodegradable property.
“OK Biodegradable MARINE” certification granted by VINÇOTTE, an international certification body
Aiming to expand our business by increasing production capacity through aggressive investment
Amid increasing demand for biodegradable polymers mainly in the environmentally conscious European market, we decided to install larger production equipment in the Takasago Manufacturing Site. Investing 2.5 billion yen, we plan to start operating new equipment with an annual production capacity of 5,000 tons in December 2019. As the next step, we are considering constructing a large-scale commercialization plant, aiming to achieve 100,000 ton-scale business in the future.
We strive to contribute to a sustainable society by supplying PHBH products.
Production capacity scheme for biodegradable polymers