Eastern Bioplastics is located in Rockingham County, the leading poultry producer in the state of Virginia. (Picture used under license from Shutterstock.com © ronfromyork.)
Eastern Bioplastics is located in Rockingham County, the leading poultry producer in the state of Virginia. (Picture used under license from Shutterstock.com © ronfromyork.)

In an effort to create an affordable, functional and sustainable bioplastic alternative, Eastern BioPlastics has engineered a custom, patented process to utilise feathers as a plastic additive. It can substitute up to 40 wt% of poultry feather fibres into the resin.

The company also designs and builds the equipment to process the feathers that are used. The continuous process to wash, dry and grind feathers prepares the feathers for compounding. Feathers are separated from non-feather material in a float tank, and conveyors move them through a series of wash drums and pressure washing nozzles. They continue to a hydraulic drying press and then to a chopper where they are ground into smaller particles. After a further reduction in moisture content (to approximately 15%), the fibres are removed from the quill. Fibres are blown into a holding tank, while the quill drops into a waste system. At this point, the clean fibres are ready to use in the resin.

In order to maximise efficiencies, the wash water is recycled two times for a total of three uses, and spray wash water is recaptured, filtered, and used in successive stages.

The processed feathers are compounded with resins (polypropylenes and polyethylenes) and additives using twin screw extrusion. The composite material is then pelletised into resin pellets which customers convert into products.

Eastern BioPlastics is located in Rockingham County, the leading poultry producer in the state of Virginia. This allows the company to purchase locally, reducing its carbon footprint by nearly 24% and supporting its mission to be a leading green manufacturing company.

In the US alone, 4 billion lbs of feather waste is estimated to be generated annually.