What are biocomposites?

Biocomposites contain wood or other natural fibres and a polymer as a matrix. Various production methods for biocomposites include extrusion and injection, as well as press moulding or 3D printing. Most producers still use fossil-based polymers for the production of biocomposites. Meanwhile, there are a lot of bio-based polymers on the market to produce partly or fully bio-based composites, to use renewable carbon instead of fossil carbon. Some are biodegradable. In combination with biodegradable plastics, biocomposites are optimal for use in agriculture, horticulture and also for special applications such as filter balls and coffee capsules.

The most important polymers used are: PE (decking & construction, consumer goods), PP (automotive, construction, consumer goods) and PVC (decking & construction) and ABS, Epoxy, PA, PMMA, PS, PU, TPE, TPS, TPU. Examples for bio-based polymers are PE, PLA, PBS, PHAs, TPE, PU and Epoxies. Also, bio-based PP will soon be available from Neste, Finland.

Plastics can be replaced by biocomposites with wood or natural fibres

Bio-based polymers, plastics and biocomposites can offer more sustainable materials with a lower environmental footprint and reduced carbon footprint. They can also reduce or avoid microplastic emissions in the environment (if a biodegradable plastic matrix is used). Additionally, biocomposites can offer special properties such as higher stiffness and strength. In combination with biodegradable plastics, fully bio-based and biodegradable solutions are possible.

Biocomposites – find the real alternative to plastic

Wood and natural fibre plastic granulates are being used for consumer goods such as music instruments, casing and cases, furniture, tables, toys, combs and trays. The unique look and touch convey high quality and value and are well received by customers.

The biocomposite markets continue to grow, stable in established markets like construction and automotive and with strong growth in the more recently entered markets of consumer goods and packaging, with new players providing opportunities in innovative applications.

The traditional application field of extruded biocomposites are in decking, fencing and cladding. With the latest advances in injection moulding and 3D printing, wood plastic composites (WPC) and natural fibre composites (NFC) are now of great interest for several applications.

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