At the moment, approximattely 150,000 tonnes of bio-based plastic is produced worlwide each year in the form of PLA (poly lactic acid) from renewable raw materials, such as cellulose. However, the starting material is often derived from the food chain and is relatively expensive. Therefore, the PLA only applied in more expensive applications, such as medical applications. Moreover, the product that isused as raw material for bio-PLA can be used many times more useful than in current processing methods. If PLA can be produced from cheaper base material , there arises a huge market potential for wider use. For example packaging, disposable cups, cutlery and plates, plant pots etc. It is expected that the demand for PLA will raise with 18-22 % annually.
To fulfill the fast growing demand for PLA , to reduce the pressure on renewables and accelerate the transition to a biobased plastic significantly a cheaper and environmentally safer alternative for raw material and technology have to be found.
The intended breakthrough in this project is to produce PLA from the cellulose fraction in raw municipal wastewater, called screenings . Screenings is the fraction captured, using rotating belt fine screens, behind the coarse screening. The toilet paper, in particular the cellulose fibers present in it, is a very suitable raw material for the production of bioplastics. Nowhere in the world PLA is produced from waste cellulose.
This project is implemented by a consortium of technology developers (BWA and Attero) and launching customers (Attero and Waterboard Hollands Noorderkwartier).