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European Patents Office Awards 2007- biodegradable plastic by Novamont     Προσθέθηκε στις: 30/05/2007

European Commission

Directorate of General Enterprise and Industry

European Patents Office Awards 2007:

Dr Catia Bastioli and her team from Novamont, who invented the mater-bi TM biodegradable plastic, win European Inventor of the Year Award:

European Inventor of the Year

Around 600 guests gathered at the International Congress Center in Munich on Wednesday to watch as the European Inventors of the Year 2007 were announced. The awards ceremony, jointly hosted by EPO President Alain Pompidou and European Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, honours inventors - both individuals and teams - who have made a significant contribution to innovation in Europe...The award in the category "SMEs/Research" went to Catia Bastioli and her team at Novamont S.p.a in Novara, Italy for inventing biodegradable plastics from starch, a renewable raw material. These plastics are used worldwide, for instance in eco-friendly refuse bags.
...Happy Shopping
Italian team’s invention means that plastic bags no longer outlive their users

In the 1990s, a group of scientists led by Dr Catia Bastioli developed bio-degradable plastics that have many of the benefits of regular plastics, but decompose easily. Nominated in the SME/Research category of the European Inventor of the Year, the invention also serves to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the consumption of non-renewable resources.

Traditional plastics are dirty to produce, use up oil, and don’t decompose naturally. So what’s the solution? In their 1994 invention, scientists at Novamont in Terni, Italy championed a technique that takes polymers from starch and turns them into a substance that can be produced just like conventional plastics. The difference: it decomposes in just weeks.

These starch-based bio-plastics can be turned into shopping bags, disposable cups, sheet mulch and even car tyres. They are also renewable, recyclable, reusable, and turn into soil within three to eight weeks in a regular compost pile – this is in sharp contrast to traditional plastics which take between 100 and 400 years to decompose.

Novamont founding member and current CEO Catia Bastioli remembers the initial problems when she and her team developed the starch-based plastics. “It’s one thing to have an interesting product, but another thing to put it on the market,” she said. “Our problem was that we had to completely create a market that didn’t exist.”

While Novamont’s bio-degradable shopping bag costs around 8 cents (compared to 5 cents for a traditional one), they are in increasing demand due to the current concerns over global climate change and rising oil prices.

Today, Novamont supplies over 60 percent of global bio-plastics, producing 35,000 tons of Mater-Bi – the heart of the bio-plastics product line. Fürstenfeldbruck in Germany was the first town to test bio-degradable waste bags for its garbage collection system. Their Pneo bag performed well, nearly halving the weight of the waste and making collection and waste separation cheaper and more convenient.

Since those early days, over 3,500 municipalities have followed suit. The European Community, Goodyear and BMW are partnering with Novamont to produce fuel-efficient tyres, while Italy’s largest farmers association, Coldiretti, is using the technology in its new bio-refinery.

What started out with just Bastioli and three other scientists has now evolved into a successful medium-sized enterprise. With a turnover of €50 million in 2006, Novamont today employs some 120 people. The company still banks on innovation, though: they hold nearly 60 patents, and say they invest some 30 percent of their resources back into research and development.

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