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GHG Savings

At BioLogiQ we are committed to preserving the quality of life we all enjoy here on the planet. Excessive reliance on fossil fuels over the past 100 years has created worldwide concerns about changes in climate, long-lived pollution, and the fact that fossil fuel, in general, is a finite resource.

We make plastic from annually renewable starch (NuPlastiQ resin) rather than petroleum to address the many valid concerns. 
Mixing BioLogiQ's NuPlastiQ® BioPolymers resins with any of the petroleum-based plastic resins has dramatic and immediate effects on the carbon emissions (CO2) that ultimately affect the growing "greenhouse gas" problem. Our resins can be used as a "drop-in" replacement for a portion of polyethylene, polypropylene or polystyrene, etc. No special equipment is required for manufacturers to use our resins and there is no increase in labor costs. It simply works.

 

GHG Savings at a glance:

NuPlastiQ® offers significant GHG savings when blended with fossil-based resins.

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o  Thanks to plant-based content and efficient conversion, NuPlastiQ® is basically carbon neutral:

Study carried out by thinkstep, Inc. concluded that NuPlastiQ® has a cradle-to-gate carbon footprint of approximately -0.2 kg of CO2-eq. per kg of resin. That includes energy that is required to compound NuPlastiQ® with a partner resin.

o  Example of a product containing 25% NuPlastiQ® (figure to the left)

o   Baseline LDPE structure: 1 kg of LDPE with a GWP of 1.87 kg CO2-eq.

o   New structure with NuPlastiQ® :

o  0.25 kg of NuPlastiQ® with a GWP of -0.05 kg CO2-eq. [0.25 x -0.2]

o  0.75 kg of LDPE with a GWP of 1.40 kg CO2-eq. [0.75 x 1.87]

o  Total GWP of 1.35 kg CO2-eq. [-0.05 + 1.40]

o  Quick way to estimate GHG savings from including NuPlastiQ® in a blend:

For practical purposes, the resin related, cradle-to-gate GHG saving in a blend of NuPlastiQ® with a fossil-based material (e.g. LDPE) will be roughly equal to the percentage of NuPlastiQ® in the blend

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Please recognize the limitations of such simplified calculations. While useful to estimate the resin related benefit, they are not inclusive of all factors when a final product is considered: printing inks, label, resin processing energy (e.g. injection molding), etc. Consult an LCA expert prior to LCA-related claims.

For a more detailed explanation of NuPlastiQ® s GHG profile, please continue to the next "In depth" section.

 

 

 

In depth:

I. NuPlastiQ® is a plant-based thermoplastic. Every carbon in its backbone came from atmospheric CO2.

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o  Plants use sunlight (light energy) to make "foods" (chemical energy) from carbon dioxide CO2 and water H2O;

o  This chemical energy is stored in carbohydrate molecules, such as starches and sugars;

o  The basic chemical formula of starch, our primary ingredient for NuPlastiQ® , is (C6H10O5)n and its carbon atoms came from atmospheric CO2;

o  The same goes for plant-based Glycerin, the other ingredient in NuPlastiQ® . With chemical formula C3H8O3, all its carbons came from atmospheric CO2.

 

 

 

II. CO2 uptake to make one kilogram of NuPlastiQ® :

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Carbon atoms in one kilogram of NuPlastiQ® were absorbed by plants from the atmosphere during photosynthesis as ~1.6 kilograms of CO2.

o  1 kg of NuPlastiQ® consists of approximately 440 grams of carbon, 60 grams of hydrogen and 500 grams of oxygen;

o  1 kg of CO2 consists of approximately 273 grams of carbon and 727 grams of oxygen;

o  In order to obtain the 440 grams of carbon needed to make 1 kg of NuPlastiQ® , ~1.6 kg of CO2 needs to be taken from the atmosphere by plants (440 ÷ 273≈1.6).

 

Note: If NuPlastiQ is biodegraded at the end of its life, its carbons are returned to the atmosphere in the form of CO2 or the less desirable CH4.

 

 

 

III. CO2 emissions to make one kilogram of NuPlastiQ® :

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There's a lot of work to convert atmospheric CO2 into ready-to-use NuPlastiQ® :

Diesel for agriculture, fertilizer production and use-related emissions, energy for starch and NuPlastiQ® processing, diesel for transportation, etc.

Interim results of a Cradle-to-Gate Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study carried out by thinkstep, Inc indicate that such work would amount to ~1.4* kilograms of CO2-equivalent (GWP100) emitted for every kilogram of NuPlastiQ® manufactured.

These numbers make NuPlastiQ® about carbon neutral at BioLogiQ's gate.

Carbon-neutrality is excellent. And there seems to be room for improvement with more advantaged sources of glycerin and more energy efficient production methods. We are working on it.

A critically reviewed third-party report will be available upon conclusion of current capacity scale up, with new raw material sourcing points established and ongoing energy efficiency measures implemented.

* 1.4 includes emissions related to compounding of NuPlastiQ® with LDPE in a 50/50 BioBlend® . For clarity purposes, CO2-equiv burden of LDPE will be added in the following step.

 

 

 

IV. Estimate your potential saving: NuPlastiQ® % ≈ GHG saving % in 1:1 ratio replacement use cases**

As demonstrated above, NuPlastiQ® is roughly carbon neutral at BioLogiQ's gate.

That makes estimating the resin related GHG saving, at your gate, as simple as:

1.    Learn the "at gate" GWP (Global Warming Potential) value for your base resin from a reputable source, such as https://www.plasticseurope.org/en/resources/eco-profiles.

E.g. GWP100 for 1 kg of LDPE is listed as 1.87 kg CO2-eq. (GWP100)

2.    Calculate GWP saving for your use case.

E.g. 1:1 replacement ratio (by weight), 30% NuPlastiQ® blended with 70% LDPE:

Before: 1 kg of LDPE x 1.87 = 1.87 kg CO2-eq.

After: [0.3 kg of NuPlastiQ x 0] + [0.7 kg of LDPE x 1.87] = 1.31 kg CO2-eq.

Net saving: 1- [1.31 ÷ 1.87] = 30% lower resin related GWP at factory gate

E.g. Final structure 10% heavier for same function, 30% NuPlastiQ® blended with 70% LDPE:

Before: 1 kg of LDPE x 1.87 = 1.87 kg CO2-eq.

After: [0.33 kg of NuPlastiQ x 0] + [0.77 kg of LDPE x 1.87] = 1.44 kg CO2-eq.

Net saving: 1- [1.44 ÷ 1.87] = 23% lower resin related GWP at factory gate

Note: A heavier structure "at gate" will have downstream GWP implications (more energy for transport, etc.). Estimated saving "at gate" will likely be reduced.

E.g. Final structure 10% lighter for same function, 30% NuPlastiQ® blended with 70% LDPE:

Before: 1 kg of LDPE x 1.87 = 1.87 kg CO2-eq.

After: [0.27 kg of NuPlastiQ x 0] + [0.63 kg of LDPE x 1.87] = 1.18 kg CO2-eq.

Net saving: 1- [1.18 ÷ 1.87] = 37% lower resin related GWP at factory gate

3.    Get an idea of what the saving represents by using comparative tools such as EPA's "Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator".

E.g. 30% NuPlastiQ® , 1:1 by weight, 100 metric tons of packaging per year

Before: 100,000 kg of LDPE x 1.87 = 187 metric tons of CO2-eq.

After: [30,000 kg of NuPlastiQ x 0] + [70,000 kg of LDPE x 1.87] = 131 metric tons of CO2-eq.

Net saving: 187 - 131 = 56 metric tons of CO2-eq. per year (resin related GWP at factory gate)

EPA's tool calculated GHG equivalency (Aug 5th 2019): 19.5 metric tons of waste recycled instead of landfilled per year.

Note: Please recognize the limitations of these simplified calculations. While useful to estimate resin related benefits, they do not include all elements needed to calculate the GWP of a final product: printing inks, label, resin processing energy (e.g. injection molding), etc. Consult an LCA expert prior to making GHG-related claims.

** when blending NuPlastiQ® to fossil-based resins. 1:1 replacement ratio by weight. Comparison of ready to use resin blend at factory's gate.

 

 

 

V. What do resin related GHG differences look like "beyond the gate"?

Now things can get really complex, really fast! So to simplify, we are limiting our comparisons to LDPE.

1.    The below analysis is limited to emissions directly related to the different plastic resin blends;

2.    Emissions related to transport beyond manufacturers' gates, resin processing into packaging or final product, etc. are out of scope since they are expected to be very similar irrespective of the different resin blends;

3.    For the purposes of this analysis, it is assumed that different resin blends perform exact same function until the use stage;

4.    It is known that different resin blends may behave differently at the end-of-life. GHG differences may be relevant;

5.    Additionally, different end-of-life treatments may greatly influence resin related GHG differences;

6.    The below analysis is not an attempt to offer an exhaustive explanation, but rather to present how a range of likely end-of-life possibilities might affect resin related GHG profiles.

 

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Takeaways:

o  In the incineration scenario, very common in Western Europe and Japan, NuPlastiQ® blended with LDPE is GHG advantaged over the pure LDPE counterpart;

o  In the recycling scenario, no significant resin-induced differences are expected in the GHG profile. Carbon atoms from the different blends remain in the respective backbones. No significant differences expected in the recycling process itself (e.g. water and energy for washing, energy for pelletizing, etc.);

o  Landfill and environmental leakage scenarios share a common factor regarding resin related GHG differentiation; Biodegradation.

o   LDPE (similarly to other polyethylene families, polypropylene or polystyrene) is known to biodegrade very slowly even under ideal conditions, with negligible emissions in the first 100 years (GWP100). LDPE, therefore, is not expected to "grow" its GWP100 footprint in landfills or when leaked to the environment.

o   NuPlastiQ® blended with LDPE will have its carbon footprint affected by the biodegradation conditions:

o  If the condition is not prone to biodegradation (e.g. paper not biodegrading in a given landfill), the blend will keep its carbon atoms and the GHG profile will be unaffected;

o  If the condition is prone to biodegradation, such as defined in an ASTM D5338 setting, the entire blend (NuPlastiQ® and LDPE) could biodegrade. In this case, NuPlastiQ® blended with LDPE would have a disadvantaged GHG profile if compared to pure LDPE. But it would also have performed an additional function (e.g. mitigation of environmental leakage), rendering the GHG comparison less relevant due to comparing systems with different functions;

o  A "partial" scenario has been added limiting biodegradation to only the NuPlastiQ® portion of the blend (LDPE in blend would not biodegrade). While BioLogiQ hasn't seen experimental evidence to support such scenario, it has been included for curiosity purposes.

 

VI. Summary

o  NuPlastiQ® offers significant cradle-to-gate GHG benefits when blended with fossil-based resins;

o  NuPlastiQ® maintains its GHG advantage in controlled end-of-life scenarios, such as incineration, recycling and landfills with methane capture;

o  NuPlastiQ® and LDPE (or other polyolefin) BioBlends will have a disadvantaged GHG profile (compared to pure polyolefin) if biodegradation occurs in uncontrolled environments such as the soil or ocean. But a disadvantaged GHG profile is expected when looking at a biodegradable product against one that isn't biodegradable. At this point, a fair comparison would look at the blend in question compared to other viable technologies to mitigate environmental leakage and persistence.

 

 

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