1st PHA platform World Congress

bioplastics daily news
  • Covestro mourns unexpected death CSO, Richard Northcote


    Covestro has announced the news that its Chief Sustainability Officer Mr. Richard Northcote, has passed away unexpectedly at the age of 58.

    m“We will all miss him more than words can express. He was not just our inspiring colleague, but our good friend as well,” said Covestro CEO Dr. Markus Steilemann. “Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends during this most difficult time.” 

    Richard Northcote was a highly regarded leader and visionary in the world of sustainable development. He had a wealth of experience in the chemical and construction industries, having worked as a journalist, a corporate communications and government affairs executive, and latterly as head of the Sustainability segment. He lived and worked in a variety of European countries, the Middle East and Asia. He entered the chemical industry in 1996 with ICI and joined Covestro AG in 2009, where he served as Chief Sustainability Officer.

    Richard Northcote will be missed by his family and by Covestro colleagues all over the world.

  • Nature always finds the solution


    Bio-on (Bologna, Italy) inaugurates its first plant for the production of special PHA bioplastics

    Bio-on, a company that describes itself as an intellectual property company that supplies technologies to produce or use Polyhydroxyalkanoates-(PHAs) through licenses, officially inaugurated a production plant of its own during a  ceremony on June 20th. The new plant will produce PHB and PHBVV bioplastics for high added value niche markets such as the microbeads used in the cosmetics sector. The plant is located in Castel San Pietro Terme, near Bologna, Italy. The theme of the grand opening was  "La natura trova sempre la soluzione" (Nature always finds the solution).

    Marco Astorri

    Marco Astorri opening the presentation

    In an impressive multimedia presentation, Bio-on's Chairman and CEO Marco Astorri first showed to the more than 300 invited guests the shocking reality of marine pollution caused by plastic waste. Video clips showed birds on a picturesque Pacific atoll, dead from ingesting bottle tops and other litter they had mistakenly thought to be food.

    Astorri then showed a few ancient 1950s commercials and the famous scene from "The Graduate", in which plastics are lauded as the material of the future, the presentation focused on the use of microbeads in cosmetics: an exemplary case of plastic waste that is literally washed down the drain. These microbeads, which aserve as thickeners or stabilisers in such widely used products as lipstick, lip gloss, mascara, eye-liner, nail polish, creams, shampoo, foam bath and even toothpaste, pollute the environment; once they are rinsed off after use, they become a permanent part of the natural cycle: they are swallowed by plankton in the rivers and seas and thus enter the food chain, to ultimately end up on our plates.

    This provided a convenient segue to introduce PHAs as a family or platform of biobased and biodegradable polyesters in general - and the Minerv PHAs which are to be produced in the new plant, in particular. The first product to be produced at the new plant will be Minerv Bio Cosmetics, the bioplastic microbeads for cosmetics designed to replace the oil-based plastic particles currently used, which are harmful and non-biodegradable. Astorri then introduced Professor Jian Yu from the University of Hawaii in Manoa, with whom Bio-on has been working for 10 years on the development of their Minerv PHA products. And the cooperation will continue. "We have big and (still) secret plans for the future," Marco Astorri said with a smile.
    Also attending the ceremony was the former Italian Minster of the Environment, Gian Luca, who praised the commitment shown by Bio-on and the company's willingness to 'invest in the future'.  
    The new plant is located on a plot measuring some 30,000 m2; it has 3,700 m2 covered space and 6,000 m2 land for development. The current production capacity is 1,000 tonnes per year, rapidly expandable to 2,000 tonnes/a. The plant is equipped with the very latest technologies and the most advanced research and development laboratories. The overall investment in the production hub and new research laboratories is EUR 20 million.
    "We are very pleased because since March 2017, when the first stone was laid, we have kept to our schedule and kept the promises we made to the market," says Marco Astorri. "Our technicians and partners have been incredibly reliable throughout the process."

    Grand Opening

    Claudio Luti, President of Kartell (left) and Marco Astorri, CEO of Bio-on


    Grand Opening Ceremony and Party

  • Exploring - and exploiting - the potential of sewage


    Sewage contains valuable substances that can be used as raw materials for biobased products. It is, however, a resource whose potential still remains to be fully realized.

    The Interreg North-West Europe project WOW! - Wider business Opportunities for raw materials from Waste water – has been set up to do precisely that.

    The project was recently launched with 12 partners from 6 countries. WOW! aims to make the transition to a more circular approach by matching supply and demand of cellulose, lipids and bioplastics (PHA) from sewage.
    At the end of May, the WOW! consortium came together for the project kick off. Partners from the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands gathered to meet each other and discuss the content.


    There are market opportunities for raw materials from sewage, but for this the sewage treatment plants and the industry need alignment. This calls for a transition: sewage treatment plants need to switch from treating sewage to producing valuable materials. On the other hand, market parties need to regard sewage as a valuable source instead of ‘dirty unsafe water’. Last but not least, the policies should better fit this new circular practice. To realize these opportunities the consortium aims to develop value chains for three different raw materials from sewage: cellulose, PHA bioplastics and lipids.

    The following activities will be part of the project:

    • Identify high potential value chains for raw materials from sewage.
    • Develop a Decision Support Tool that guides sewage treatment plants in their transition towards a circular approach on sewage.
    • Build and run three WOW! pilots to optimize and implement innovative recovery and upcycling techniques.
    • Create bioproducts made out of sewage, such as bioplastics, biofuel and bio-char.
    • Create national policy action plans and an EU policy roadmap.

    The consortium is made up of the following members:

    • Water authority Vallei en Veluwe
    • Wupperverbandsgesellschaft für integrale Wasserwirtschaft
    • Technische Universität Kaiserlautern
    • Université du Luxembourg
    • VLARIO
    • Natureplast
    • Avans Hogeschool
    • REMONDIS Aqua Industrie
    • VITO
    • Pulsed Heat
    • CirTec
    • Severn Trent Water

    WOW! is supported by the Interreg North-West Europe program,

bioplastics MAGAZINE