Biopolymer Network

ZealaFoam

ZealaFoam®​


The Problem...

We understand the world has built a huge number of products from furniture to food packaging, around the use of polystyrene. Its light weight, strength, insulation properties and low cost make it an ideal material to use across a diverse range of applications.

 

However, for a number of reasons, the world is now seriously looking for alternatives to conventional plastics. An increasing number of jurisdictions globally, have regulated, restricted, taxed or outright banned, the use of polystyrene in many applications. In Europe an increasing number of countries have, or are in process of, introducing a tax on plastic products, if they don’t contain recycled, reused, bio-based or biodegradable content. In the USA and China, a number of states / provinces have banned the use of certain polystyrene products. A number of governments and cities have also signed up to The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment (100% to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025) in Europe including Portugal, UK, Scotland, Catalonia, Copenhagen and France. It is worth noting that the signatories also include a number of very large multi-nationals. Another example of a similar initiative is the US Plastics Pact. 
The new US Plastics Pact, a collaborative effort organized by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, The Recycling Partnership, and the World Wildlife Fund is partnering with 850+ organizations to work collectively toward scalable solutions tailored to the needs and challenges within the US landscape. The vision aims to ensure plastics never become waste by eliminating the plastics we don't need, innovating to ensure the plastics we do need are reusable, recyclable, or compostable, and circulating all the plastic items we use to keep them in the economy and out of the environment.

By bringing together businesses, government entities, non-governmental organizations, researchers, and other stakeholders, the US Plastics Pact promises to deliver a step change toward a circular economy, enabling companies and governments to meet impactful targets by 2025 that they could not meet on their own. View the Plastics Pact network here.   More than 60 Activators have joined the US Plastics Pact, representing each part of the supply and plastics manufacturing chain. By joining the pact, they agree to deliver these four targets: 1.  Define a list of packaging to be designated as problematic or unnecessary by 2021 and take measures to eliminate them by 2025. 2.  By 2025, all plastic packaging is 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable. 3.  By 2025, undertake ambitious actions to effectively recycle or compost 50% of plastic packaging. 4.  By 2025, the average recycled content or responsibly sourced bio-based content in plastic packaging will be 30%.

Read the New Plastics Global Commitment June 2019 Report here

 



The Revolutionary Bioplastic Solution...


While there is a strong and evident desire for change, the world is struggling to find an alternative that will perform as polystyrene does, retaining the same functional attributes to fill the many, many applications that have utilised polystyrene over the decades of its use.

 

ZealaFoam® has been developed to meet this demand. It is 100% bio-based, potentially has multiple end of life options, can be moulded on existing polystyrene equipment. It has a very similar look and feel to polystyrene and ZealaFoam® tests have returned performance data comparable to polystyrene for both impact resistance and insulation properties.

ZealaFoam® is a patented technology protected through three patent families: The first granted in 20 countries, the second granted in four countries and pending in two other jurisdictions and the third registered in two countries. The ZealaFoam® trade mark is well established and is registered in New Zealand, USA, the European Union and in seven other countries.

 

We manufacture this versatile product from commercially available PLA beads which are plant-derived. We impregnate the beads with CO2, a green blowing agent, using our revolutionary patented technology and ZealaFoam® can be safely disposed of by industrial composting or burning.  

Process from PLA Resin to Finished Product








ZEALAFOAM® HAS A BROAD RANGE OF APPLICATIONS
  • Packaging
  • Furniture
  • Thermal Insulation
  • Composite Structural Insulation
  • Automotive
  • Sporting Goods





Good news for Polystyrene (Styrofoam) manufacturers, ZealaFoam® can be moulded on your equipment

ZealaFoam® can potentially be substituted for almost any moulded polystyrene (Styrofoam) product. This means manufacturers can mould ZealaFoam® on existing EPS moulding equipment without the costly exercise of buying new moulding machines and re-tooling. We are happy to work with you to embed ZealaFoam® in your factory. 



Current Commercial Applications

EcoBeans for Bean Bag Fill

Made from sustainably-sourced plant material with no petrochemicals using our ZealaFoam® technology developed right here in New Zealand, EcoBeans are a plant-based solution to the global polystyrene problem.  With natural durable support our large EcoBeans hold their shape for longer making it easy to fill bean bags - no waste or hassles with cleaning up.

Checkout our EcoBeans Page here

 




Sustainable Packaging -EcoBeans for Loose Fill

Loose fill materials are used to fill voids in packaging to protect and prevent movement within the package while not damaging the contents.  Made from sustainably-sourced plant material with no petrochemicals using our ZealaFoam® technology developed right here in New Zealand, EcoBeans are a natural  alternative to polystyrene beads. 

Contact us for further information



Helmets

Helmets have a limited shelf life and must be replaced on a regular basis in accordance with the manufacturer’s warranties. 

Small quantities of helmets have been manufactured from ZealaFoam® which is ideally placed to meet the stringent safety requirements whilst addressing the growing demand for green sustainable products containing no harmful chemicals.

 

Contact us for further information



ZealaFoam® Development Work

Moulded Foam

 

Our research division is working towards commercial production insulated packaging such as fish boxes.  Much of the hard work is now behind us with only a few technical challenges left before we cross the finish line. For more information go to the ZealaFoam Developments page 

 

 

Plant-based Composites and Water-absorbing Bio-based Film

BPN continues to develop new technologies in these areas and more information can be found on the ZealaFoam Developments page 





Information on Bioplastics and PLA

What are Bioplastics?

Click here to download the European Bioplastics Association Fact Sheet

Advantages and Disadvantages of Polylactic Acid

Click here to view an article from the June 2020 bioplastics news

Global PLA Production

There are two major facilities producing PLA – Natureworks based in the USA and Total Corbion based in the Netherlands. Both companies are expanding their production facilities to accommodate exponential growth in demand.  Click on the links below to read more about these companies. 


Natureworks

Total Corbion



banner

ZealaFoam Development

ZealaFoam® Development and Ongoing Research

Moulded Products – overcoming the challenges

Three of the key aspects that have made polystyrene difficult to replace, particularly in cool chain packaging, are price, impact resistance and insulation ability. Through extensive trials and production of moulded ZealaFoam® products, we know that our foam performs as well as polystyrene. Our aspiration is to offer the opportunity to access plant-based functional foam to consumers everywhere.

 

While this may seem a big hairy goal for a small Kiwi company, we believe that our years of research have now laid a solid foundation for realistically achieving this.  We believe that with a prize this size you don’t stop until you succeed or you literally hit a stop sign.  Technical challenges are made to be overcome so why stop short of the biggest prize of all? Significant work has been done in commercial moulding facilities throughout the world and tremendous progress has been made.  We have moulded many boxes and shapes, but there are a still a few technical hurdles to overcome before we can be fully commercial in this space.

We owe a great big thank you to our global partners and to our NZ polystyrene moulders such as Barnes Plastics, Auckland, Hope Moulders, Nelson and Expol in Christchurch for allowing us into their factories and providing a huge amount of assistance and advice along the way.  We’re not there yet but WATCH THIS SPACE!


Cool Chain Packaging

Its excellent insulating and impact resistant properties make ZealaFoam® ideal for the transportation of fresh and chilled produce. We have produced small numbers of fish boxes in commercial factories and these have been tested for mechanical, acoustic and thermal insulation.  The results have been comparable to polystyrene.









Export trial results show ZealaFoam® performance similar to polystyrene


A simulated export trial transporting fish from NZ to Singapore over 40 hours monitored temperatures inside identical polystyrene and ZealaFoam® boxes.  During this period, as can be seen from the graph, the external temperature was very variable, climbing to 23o C. The temperatures within the boxes were so similar in these conditions that the lines charting polystyrene and ZealaFoam® box temperatures overlay each other until the final 10 minutes 








Bee Boxes

Bees are amazing creatures which have adapted to very diverse environments.  They have the ability to both heat and cool their hives to maintain a constant temperature.  However, this takes energy from the hive and better insulation of their accommodation delivers less stress for the inhabitants providing better hive health and greater levels of production. The majority of beehives are made from wood and maintaining a consistent temperature is difficult.  More recently polystyrene has been tried as it is much lighter and has better insulation properties.   ZealaFoam® provides the same insulation advantages as polystyrene while offering a sustainably sourced, plant-derived alternative. 









ZealaFoam® the next generation

We have developed a second generation of bio-based foam products. These products incorporate biomass which can alter cost, appearance and functionality. BPN has worked with a number of available waste streams including pine bark, proteins from a number of plant sources and plant fibres. Excellent moulded products have been produced with a range of colours and textures. 










ZealaFoam® Lightweight Printable Film

ZealaFoam® Film is a closed micro-cellular foamed product. It is made from Polylactic Acid (PLA) which is an industrially compostable material derived from renewable resources such as corn. The blowing agent used for foaming is CO2, meaning no petrochemicals are used in the production of ZealaFoam® films. It looks and feels like a film but has the ultra-lightweight properties of a foam with an improved specific strength in comparison to solid PLA films. The film has a smooth and shiny surface which can be printed on. The PLA grade and processing parameters can be manipulated to tailor properties for specific applications.

Typical Product Attributes

·Density range 20 g/L - 140 g/L - application dependent
·Improved Specific Strength (3.5 x higher than solid PLA film of identical grade)
·Thickness of samples 80 to 200 microns (thinner samples are possible)
·Tear Resistance (ASTM D1938-09) 0.07 N
·Slow Probe Penetration (ASTM F1306-90) 7.00 N
·Cobb testing shows no water penetration
·100 % Bio-based
·Industrially compostable
·Shiny and smooth printable surface 



100 micron thickness sample


Microscope view of interior cellular structure