Please tell us about Novamont in a few words and key figures.
Christophe Doukhi-de Boissoudy: - Novamont develops and produces the Mater-Bi technology, a family of biodegradable and compostable thermoplastic materials. Our goal is to find new ways of using vegetable raw materials, sources that are renewed, year by year, by transforming them into "bioplastics" for specific applications. These products have a low environmental impact, and have all of the properties of the traditional materials, while being completely biodegradable.
With a turnover of €41 million, Novamont employs 120 people and supplies over 60 percent of global bio-plastics, producing 60,000 tons of Mater-Bi per year.
Please tell us about the Mater-Bi technology.
Novamont manufactures and sells various lines of biopolymers for a variety of manufacturing processes, all with the Mater-Bi trademark. The material is available in granular form with different formulations and/or grades.
What are the costs of such products in comparison to products made from fossil fuels? What are their environmental advantages?
Products made from bio plastic cost between 1.5 and 4 times more than plastic products made from fossil fuels. This is mostly due to the high prices of raw materials, and also because production processes have not yet achieved their maximum efficiency.
Mater-Bi is a type of bioplastic developed by Novamont. It comes from renewable resources of agricultural origin, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and the consumption of energy and non renewable resources. Furthermore, it completes a virtuous circle: the raw materials of agricultural origin return to the earth through processes of biodegradation and composting, without releasing pollutants.
Mater-Bi is completely biodegradable in different environments, for example, in composting and in the soil. Mater-bi can be coloured in bulk using biodegradable master batches (coloured plastic additive.
What products is Mater-Bi® currently used for? What products do you think it can potentially be used for in the future?
Bags (carrier bags, bin bags, etc.), clingfilm and agricultural mulching represent most of the current applications of Mater-Bi.
Mater-Bi was also used to produce the ‘Green Pen’ (manufactured by Lecce Pen), which was chosen to be the official pen of the world summit meeting in Rio de Janeiro. Nappies, catering products, tyres, etc. are also examples of the multiple applications of Mater-Bi. In the near future, Mater-Bi is mostly going to be used for thermoforming, and replace conventional polypropylene in products such as yoghurt pots, or cosmetic packaging.