Marvellous maize: from cola to clothing!

September 05, 2014

Maize, or sweet corn, is not only tasty but also a popular raw material for bioplastic. Researchers throughout the world are constantly devising new applications for this versatile plant. For example, maize is already used in Goodyear car tyres and biodegradable bags. The company Avantium has developed soft-drink bottles based on maize: the PEF bottle. You can read more about that here. PEF is already much more sustainable than the oil-based PET packaging, but what do you do with it once it has been used? PET bottles are recycled into fibre for clothing. Can you do that with PEF? Avantium discovered that you certainly can. The Institute for Textile Technology at the RWTH Aachen University started working with PEF, and after a good deal of spinning, weaving and dying, the first PEFG T-shirt has been produced. Not just in corn yellow but also in other colours.

These are great developments at a time when the demand for environmentally friendly materials is growing and oil is becoming scarcer and more expensive. And yet only 1% of the plastics produced today are bioplastic. So there’s still a big challenge ahead! The companies in Limburg working in the biobased economy are joining forces in Source B. In this, market gardeners, SMEs and scientists are working together on the ‘impossible’ biobased products of tomorrow.