Q&A. How China is Pushing Back the Biodegradable Boundaries


Jinhui Zhaolong is a biodegradable plastics manufacturer based in the central Chinese province of Shanxi. At last April’s CHINAPLAS fair in Shanghai, the company showcased new biodegradable solutions. DirectIndustry e-magazine spoke with its president, Janice Li.


DirectIndustry e-magazine: China’s plastics industry is currently evolving from rapid growth to growth focused on quality, efficiency and environmental concerns. “Greenovation” was even the main theme at Chinaplas this year. How is your company preparing for this?

Janice Li: Environmental protection and product quality are being taken more and more seriously in China. This year’s event represented the perfect platform for us and our PBAT products, such as Ecoworld PBAT and Ecowill PBAT. PBAT, a copolymer made of 1,4-butanediol, adipic acid and terephthalic acid, is a biodegradable plastic which can replace traditional plastic polyethylene in films, with a high stability and consistency.

This year, we showcased a new PBAT compound containing both PLA (polylactic acid) and starch. These new elements help to reduce production costs and significantly increase the tear strength and elongation of the final plastic product, while maintaining biodegradability and compostability. This new material is perfect for agricultural mulch film and biodegradable bags.

DirectIndustry e-magazine: Are we seeing the rise of genuine innovation within China’s plastics industry today?

DI20-Janice-Jinhui-ZhaolongJanice Li: We agree with Shicheng Wang, Vice President and Secretary General of the China Light Industry Association, when he says a lack of independent R&D and innovation are the biggest problems in China’s plastics industry. The conflict between China’s weak innovation situation and the huge demand and supply gap for biodegradable plastic globally have driven us to focus our efforts on R&D. We are, for example, conducting research on new materials such as PPC (polypropylene carbonate), a thermoplastic material which can be combined with starch to produce bioplastics that are stable, elastic, transparent and non-toxic.

DirectIndustry e-magazine: How do you see China’s plastics industry developing over the next 5 to 10 years?

Janice Li: It is obvious that “white pollution” has become one of today’s biggest environmental problems, and plastics have started to affect our health. As in many other countries, the issues of energy conservation, environmental protection and biodegradable plastics are becoming increasingly significant drivers in China’s plastics industry. So we will see increasing R&D into eco-friendly new materials, with strong support from local and central government.

About the Author

Daniel Allen is a writer and a photographer. His work has featured in numerous publications, including CNN, BBC, The National Geographic Traveller.

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