Web-based Application will Help Determine Economic Viability of Bioplastics



David Grewell, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, (515) 294-2036, dgrewell@iastate.edu
Jeni Maiers, Center for Crops Utilization Research, (515) 294-6197, jamaiers@iastate.edu

AMES, Iowa — The plastics industry will soon have a new tool to determine the economic viability of biobased plastics. The Polymers Environmental Calculator is a web application designed to calculate and compare processing costs, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of products made from petroleum and biobased plastics.

David Grewell, chairperson of the Iowa State University Biopolymers and Biocomposites Research Team and associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, has led the application’s development.

“The Polymers Environmental Calculator will allow resin producers, manufacturers and end-users to compare the environmental footprint and costs of their products. This comparison will give designers, manufacturers and consumers the information they need to determine which plastics minimize environmental impacts as well as costs,” said Grewell.

Grewell said the Polymers Environmental Calculator allows users to compare production of specific products made from various plastics. “It automatically generates reports and compares the costs and eco-profile of plastic parts made from different materials,” he said.

Users will be able to select from 12 common petroleum and biobased plastics including PET, PE, PS, PLA, and PHA. An option is available for users to enter additional plastics or enter specific information from suppliers. They will also be able to define processing costs, such as part size and overhead costs, and determine final end treatment for the product including recycling, incineration or landfill.

Grewell partnered with Nypro and M-Base Engineering + Software GmbH to make the application available to the plastics industry. They provided assistance with software design and information about plastic products and manufacturing. M-Base, a data management software company, prepared the code for the web-based application and provided support for material specifications. In addition, M-Base designed the graphic user interface that allows quick and easy use of the application. Nypro provided consulting services for manufacturing specifications as well as material selection and financial support. The team’s efforts were synergetic in producing this powerful, easy to use application.

Eric Paszkowski, project engineer of Nypro, said, “The software helps guide our customers to make an educated decision on material and process selection based on environmental and costs constraints. While many customers want to be green, they must have business justification for their decision, and this software helps them with making a data based decision.”

The Polymers Environmental Calculator will be available for free soon. For more information visit www.biocom.iastate.edu/pec.

About Biopolymers and Biocomposites Research Team
The Biopolymers and Biocomposites Research Team was established in 1995 to promote research and development of biorenewable polymers and composites from agricultural crops, encourage bioplastics in industry and work toward new formulations and processing techniques. The team operates under the Center for Crops Utilization Research umbrella at Iowa State University.

About Nypro
Nypro is the leading global solutions provider in the field of manufactured precision plastic products. As a vertically integrated leader in plastics manufacturing, Nypro offers virtually all aspects of the plastics production processes required by the world’s leading companies, including product design and development, mold making and design, precision injection molding, advanced decoration, assembly, contract manufacturing for full-finished and shipped goods, supply chain management and diversity supply. Nypro operates at 41 locations in 14 countries, employing over 17,000 people. Sales for the most recent fiscal year were approximately $1.2 billion. Markets Nypro serves include healthcare, consumer andelectronics and packaging, along with additional markets through our strategic companies.

About M-Base Engineering + Software GmbH
M-Base is an internationally leading supplier of plastics information. M-Base offers comprehensive material information about plastics, including extensive design data and a biopolymer database.