Microbeads, the plastic micro particles, are a modern evil regularly covered here on Bio-Based World News. Undoubtedly lurking in your bathroom cabinet and currently used as thickeners or stabilisers in products including: lipstick, lip gloss, mascara, eye-liner, nail polish, creams, shampoo, foam bath and even toothpaste. They pollute the environment because once they are rinsed off after use, they become a permanent part of the natural cycle: plankton in the rivers and seas swallow these microscopic plastic particles and introduce them into the food chain. The level of pollution is so serious that the USA government implemented a law (Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015) banning the use of oil-based polymers in body care products. This decision was recently followed by other countries and microbeads are the subject of many awareness campaigns around the world and is one of the focuses of Clean Seas recently launched by the United Nations. And now Italian bioplastic leaders Bio-on has joined the fight, beginning construction on a new plant producing Minerv Bio Cosmetics, which contains bioplastic microbeads made from renewable and 100% biodegradable plant sources.
Bio-on developed and patented a revolutionary, innovative solution in 2016 based on the bioplastic Minerv PHAs, The new formulation, called Minerv Bio Cosmetics (type C1), is designed to make microbeads suitable for the cosmetics industry. And like all Bio-on bioplastics, Minerv Bio Cosmetics is 100% biodegradable.
The plant to manufacture Minerv Bio Cosmetics is due to be completed by the end of this year and will begin production in 2018 thanks to a €15 million investment and will employ approximately 40 people. The plant will occupy an area of 30,000 m2, 3,700 of which is covered and 6,000 land for development, and will have a production capacity of 1,000 tons per year expandable to 2,000. It will be equipped with state-of-the-art technologies and the most advanced research laboratories, where Bio-on will test and develop new types of PHAs bioplastic using agricultural and agro-industrial waste as raw material. Bio-on also demonstrates its focus on sustainability in its choice of site, opting to convert a former factory in Castel San Pietro Terme near Bologna, meaning no new land is wasted.
"We are pleased because so far we have obtained the necessary authorisations to begin construction on schedule," explains Marco Astorri, Bio-on Chairman and CEO.
"We expect to keep to that set down in our Industrial Plan which takes us through to 2020. We are also extremely proud," adds Astorri, "because thanks to our technology the cosmetics sector can now take a 'green' turn that millions of consumers around the world have been demanding for some time."
Entering the innovative sector of high-margin special bioplastics production, through this new Bio-on Plants production site, adds to the company's existing production licensing on which it has developed since its foundation in 2007.
All the PHAs bioplastics (polyhydroxyalkanoates) developed by Bio-on are made from renewable plant sources with no competition with food supply chains.They guarantee the same thermo-mechanical properties as conventional plastics with the advantage of being 100% eco-sustainable and naturally biodegradable at ambient temperature.
Institutions and consumers alike are increasingly aware of the microbeads issue but often limit their concern to “scrub beads”, which though small fall within the “visible range”. The greater danger arises from what cannot be seen, i.e. texturizing powder. These micro powders invisible to the naked eye (10 microns) are made from oil-based plastic (methacrylates and polyamides) and are inserted into almost all formulations to change the sensory characteristics of the product.
The new cosmetic grades of bioplastic developed by Bio-on contain highly spherical micro powders with a diameter between 5 and 20 microns, with a porous or hollow structure to guarantee high absorption of oil and sebum. The special characteristics of these powders are further enriched by exceptional optical qualities such as a soft focus effect, which reduces the effect of wrinkles, making the skin brighter and less greasy.
The use in cosmetics products of Minerv Bio Cosmetics bioplastic eliminates all pollutants because the micro particles of bioplastic are naturally biodegradable in water and, therefore, do not enter the food chain. What is more, the biopolymer developed at the Bio-on laboratories actually decomposes into a nutrient for some micro-organisms and plants present in nature. The benefit for the environment is therefore two-fold.
"Our biopolymer is surprisingly versatile," explains Paolo Saettone, head of Bio-on's cosmetics department, "and performs at the very peak of its category, without taking into account its unparalleled biodegradability and non-toxicity, which truly sets it apart."
"From now on, cosmetics companies will have the chance to safeguard the environment and make their products 100% ecological," explains Marco Astorri, Chairman and CEO of Bio-on S.p.A., "while retaining their performance and effectiveness. Here too, Bio-on bioplastic demonstrates that it can replace conventional oil-based plastic in terms of performance, thermo-mechanical properties and versatility.
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