SOLEGEAR offers bioplastics that range from 15 percent to 100 percent natural materials in two different lines – Traverse and Polysole biocomposites. Traverse contains 15 to 60 percent natural materials and Polysole contains 100 percent natural materials and organic additives. Both plastics offer a wider range of possible uses than current corn based plastics.
Traverse bioplastic contains either recycled or virgin “conventional plastic (PP, PE, PET, Nylon)”. The natural base is composed of wood, hemp, bamboo, rice husks, or other natural fibers, all of which are non edible. Both types can be used for extrusion and injection molding. Traverse was developed as “a high tensile, durable and sustainable injection mouldable [sic] solution.” Some of the injected products possible with Traverse are ”toys, automotive parts and consumer goods, with the durability and strength of oil-based alternatives.” SOLEGEAR considers the Traverse line to be a “transition step” to its 100 percent natural Polysole line.
Polysole bioplastics are made from 100 percent natural fibers and proprietary organic additives. There are three different grades of Polysole for different levels of plastic production. These grades of bioplastic are “ENGINEERED, HIGH PERFORMANCE plastic designed for use in the automotive, electronics, pharmaceutical and consumer goods industries.”
The TF grade is thermoplastic resin that can used with normal equipment and “standard operating conditions”. Like petroleum based plastic, TF can be thermoformed and extruded to produce transparent wraps and cups. It can be produced in sheets.
LV grade Polysole “was designed specifically for existing PLA processors.“ Rather than being tacky and requiring long cycle times like PLA, Low Viscosity Polysole decreases cycle times and increases efficiency. Faster more efficient production means cost savings.
The final Polysole grade is XD which stands for Xtra [sic] Durability. XD can be used for producing products previously thought impossible for PLA. XD Polysole “creates a material that is stronger, more flexible and able to withstand greater impact stresses.”
All three grades of Polysole are 100 percent biodegradable “after disposal”. When we say biodegradable we are talking only weeks not months or years. Other bioplastics can still hang around in landfills for decades after disposal.
Of course the majority of environmentalist would prefer to see Polysole used almost exclusively but some manufacturers are not willing to take that step yet. Since both of SOLEGEAR’s plastic lines are brand new – just launched in June – it will take a while for manufacturers to feel confident in its flexibility and durability. The Traverse line offers a transition step for skeptics while still offering a partially natural and recycled solution.
Plastic has been around since 1862 in one form or another and shows no sign of disappearing anytime soon. Since it is here to stay, transitioning to 100 percent biodegradable plastic for all levels of use is the only way to prevent continued high volumes of plastic trash.
by Susan Wilson