Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites Placing Iowa on Top

center for bioplactics and biocompositesBy Audrey Regan, Communications Intern

Already known for its agriculture and biorenewable initiatives, Iowa gained a competitive edge with the Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites, putting Iowa on the forefront of the bioplastics industry.

CB2, a collaborative initiative by Iowa State University, Washington State University and the National Science Foundation, opened last year on Iowa State University’s campus. Its goals are aligned with Iowa’s mission to create more sustainable manufacturing processes.

The need for replacement sources of raw material for plastics becomes important when there is an increase in environmental concerns, and the use of fossil fuels becomes increasingly expensive.

CB2 supports large-scale implementation of renewable materials, develops reliable material characteristics data for partners and improves on the overall understanding of the synthesis, processing, properties and compounding of bioplastic and biocomposite materials.

David Grewell, professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State, is the center’s director. Grewell and the Biopolymers and Biocomposites Research Team at Iowa State came up with the idea for CB2 with hopes of creating biorenewable products to replace petroleum-based products.

“The center’s research will cover the complex and diverse aspects of establishing and promoting the use of renewable materials including feedstock logistics, material synthesis and compounding, product design and customer acceptance, life cycle assessment and end-of-life treatment,” said Grewell.

Some of the major advantages of bioplastics include a lower carbon footprint, lower costs in manufacturing, avoiding the use of crude oil and the reduction in litter because some of the materials are biodegradable. CB2 is saving fossil resources by coming up with substitutions.

Companies like Coca-Cola are jumping on the opportunity to reduce their carbon footprints by using bioplastic technology. Coke’s PlantBottle packaging uses up to 30 percent of plant material. After switching to a more sustainable packaging option, consumers are speaking highly of the company’s business ethics, and sales have increased for other brands such as Dasani.

PlantBottle packaging is receiving global recognition for its bioplastic technology. It is inevitable that other businesses will want to switch to a more sustainable option in their products after seeing the benefits of taking advantage of bioplastics.

Thanks to CB2, Iowa will remain a leader in the bioplastic and biocomposite industries.