Opening General Session at SCIP Rome 2008 with Keynote Catia Bastioli CEO of Novamont Bioplastics Italy



Ken Garrison (SCIP Executive Director) introduced Joe Goldberg (SCIP President) for opening remarks. Joe commented on how sure he was it would be a success since he had nothing to do with it. ;-) Joe recognized Milena Motta (Conference Chair) and her program committee for their work on the conference agenda as well as SCIP staff and the vendors who were sponsoring and exhibiting… here’s the list:

Platinum Exhibitors:
Fuld & Company
Global Intelligence Alliance
Thomson Reuters

Gold Exhibitors:
AIM Strategic Management Ltd
Denodo Technologies

Silver Exhibitors:
Dolcera LLC
Institute for Competitive Intelligence
Sedulo Group

AIM Strategic Management Ltd.
I.S.I.S.: Integrated Strategic Information Services, Inc. Profound
Report Buyer
Strategy Software Inc.
Thomson Reuters

Finally, Joe thanked all the attendees and volunteers as well for their work and engagement. Joe then presented the SCIP strategic plan. First and foremost – Certification – the core “nugget” as Joe called it of the strategic plan going forward. Time horizon is 2009 to 2013.

Next, Joe introduced the slate of candidates for the three open seats that will be available on the online ballot for election – October 27th thru November 7th. Also, Eduardo Florez-Bermudez was elected Vice President of the SCIP Board of Directors! Huzzah all ye committed volunteers.

Milena Motta took the dais next and made her introductory comments and housekeeping before introducing…

Catia Bastioli

After graduating in Pure Chemistry in 1981 at the University of Perugia where she obtained top marks, she then attended the school of Business Administration at the Milan Bocconi University.

Initially Project Leader at Montedison for the Strategic Composite Materials Project, then Project Manager for “Biodegradable Materials from Renewable Sources” at the Ferruzzi Research and Technology Center, Ms Bastioli entered Novamont in 1991 as a Director, becoming Technical Director in 1993, and then Managing Director in 1996. Today she is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

Catia Bastioli sits on various prestigious committees and associations such as ERRMA (European Renewable Resources & Materials Association), ECCP (European Climate Change Program), she is a member of the Board Directory of PlasticsEurope and AGRINNOVA (Center of Competence on Agro-food Innovation). She was recently elected President of Assoscai, Italy’s Association for the Environmental Sustainability and Competitiveness of Enterprises. Since 2004 she has been a lecturer in the Faculty of Pharmacy/Biotechnology, at the “Amedeo Avogadro” University of Eastern Piedmont. Author of more than 100 papers on various scientific and industrial subjects published in International Journals, she has also contributed to international reports dealing with renewable materials on behalf of leading institutional organizations.

She is the author of the “Handbook of Biodegradable Polymers”, published by Rapra Technology Limited in 2005.

Ms Bastioli is the inventor of more than 70 patents and patent applications in the sectors of synthetic and natural polymers. The patents in the sector of starch-based materials are a significant part of the Novamont patent portfolio. Catia Bastioli has won numerous international awards for her discoveries in the field of starch-based biodegradable materials; one of them, on April 18, she has been nominated for the “European Inventor of the Year 2007” for her patents filed in the years 1992-2001.

On July 4, 2008, the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural and Physical Sciences of the University of Genoa granted her an ‘Onoris Causa’ degree in Industrial Chemistry.

Ms. Bastioli focused her remarks on the need for finding new orders of development as the great challenge of the future – how to create a systems-based economy as a transition from our product-based economy.

She presented a study on Novamont – I Googled it and found some additional slides here (PDF). I also found out she won the 2006 Bioplastics Award in…

Personal Contribution to the Bioplastics Industry


Catia Bastioli – Novamont

The recipient of the first Bioplastics Award for Personal Contribution to the Bioplastics Industry – Catia Bastioli – has spent more than 15 years working to develop both bioplastics materials and end-use markets.

Bastioli is an internationally recognised expert on all aspects of bioplastics, has filed more than 50 patents covering synthetic and natural polymers, written close to 100 scientific papers, and has edited several definitive publications about bioplastics.

She is the leader of a dedicated team of researchers and marketing specialists and has worked hard to develop not only the materials, but also the structures that will eventually lead to a sustainable bioplastic economy.

The latest – and perhaps the biggest – step in that direction was taken earlier in 2006, when Bastioli launched her vision of the bio-refinery. This ground-breaking project aims to bring together an integrated network of agricultural producers to create a machine for bioplastics production.

I found some awesome graphic representations of Novamont’s products too:

at Novamont, Novara, Italy
377 x 250 – 25k - jpg
More from ]
Novamont’s biorefinery in Terni,
274 x 265 – 34k - jpg
More from ]
Novamont’s Catia Bastioli
283 x 265 – 13k - jpg
Novamont’s plant in Terni, Italy
220 x 213 – 15k - jpg
from Novamont SpA, Italy.
472 x 218 – 19k - jpg
More from ]
the Italian company Novamont,
250 x 188 – 28k - jpg
for Novamont Spa of Italy.
180 x 174 – 11k - jpg
More from ]
Novamont SpA Novara (Italy)
203 x 152 – 9k - jpg
Tires made with Novamont’s additive
143 x 214 – 22k - jpg
More from ]
Novamont SpA Update
431 x 250 – 16k - jpg
which was invented by Novamont,
550 x 360 – 33k - jpg
part of Italy and many countries
622 x 415 – 59k - jpg
Novamont’s starch-based
175 x 115 – 12k - jpg
Novamont SpA, Novara, Italy.
145 x 195 – 55k - png
The Italian Novamont company,
90 x 111 – 6k - jpg
from Novamont SpA, Italy.
103 x 77 – 11k - jpg
Italian soldiers patrol in Rome on
188 x 128 – 17k - jpg
Forklift equipment speaks italian
250 x 250 – 20k - jpg
More from ]
for Novamont Spa of Italy.
50 x 50 – 2k - jpg
from Novamont S.p.A., Italy is a
90 x 109 – 3k - jpg

Here’s a more specific description of why their biodegradeable plastics are so cool:

Poly(lactide-co-glycolide). Using the polyglycolide and poly(l-lactide) properties as a starting point, it is possible to copolymerize the two monomers to extend the range of homopolymer properties. Copolymers of glycolide with both l-lactide and dl-lactide have been developed for both device and drug delivery applications. It is important to note that there is not a linear relationship between the copolymer composition and the mechanical and degradation properties of the materials. For example, a copolymer of 50% glycolide and 50% dl-lactide degrades faster than either homopolymer Copolymers of l-lactide with 25-70% glycolide are amorphous due to the disruption of the regularity of the polymer chain by the other monomer. A copolymer of 90% glycolide and 10% l-lactide was developed by Ethicon as an absorbable suture material under the trade name Vicryl. It absorbs within 3-4 months but has a slightly longer strength-retention time.

Another excerpt on the systems-centric consequences of the bioplastics innovation Novamont is engaged in from a 2006 research report:

Biodegradability and compostability

Certain blends of polyethylene and starch can be degraded by physical agents (such as light). Indeed, a type of polyethylene is being marketed that includes a catalyst prompting the polymer’s thermal degradation. Nevertheless, biodegradation is quite another thing .

ASTM standard D-5488-94d defines biodegradable as “capable of undergoing decomposition into carbon dioxide, methane, water, inorganic compounds, or biomass in which the predominant mechanisms is the enzymatic action of micro-organisms, that can be measured by standard tests, in a specified period of time, reflecting available disposal conditions”.

Composting is an accelerated biological decay process viewed by many to be a potential solution to the solid-waste management crisis existing in many parts of the world. Compostable is defined as “capable of undergoing biological decomposition in a compost site as part of an available program, such that the material is not visually distinguishable and breaks down to carbon dioxide, water, inorganics and biomass, at a rate consistent with known compostable materials.”

Management of solid waste should include a critical understanding of the fate of synthetic polymers which may be disposed as solid waste in municipal landfills. Research, marketing and regulatory reviews of degradable polymers should take into account the characteristics of true landfills-not just lab tests of degradation.

To meet the compostability requirement, all of the blend components have to fully biodegrade under composting conditions and within the timeframe of the composting process. Draft national and European test standards for measuring biodegradability under composting conditions are currently under development. The key issue is whether the biodegradation material (ie the residue left by biodegradation) is harmful to the environment. Testing the amount of mineralization alone does not take into account the nature of the residue left. Furthermore, biodegradation of blends of non-degradable synthetic polymers and starches, which can actually ‘biodisintegrate’, is doubtful.

Germany is dealing with the issue of plant health in its biodegradability/composting standards; ‘a product must be fully biodegradable under composting conditions and the compost material cannot be phytotoxic or ecotoxic ­ it will support plant and microbial activity. In fact, the assumption that using natural ingredients always leads to harmless products is not true. Most important is the final destination of the biodegradable material.

One issue to be addressed is if current laboratory tests accurately reflect the biodegradability of a material in an real compost pile. The environments in which biodegradation takes place differ widely in terms of microbial composition, pH, temperature and moisture and they are not readily reproduced in the laboratory. Another issue for standards development is balancing the need for shelf life with the demand for rapid degradability. The development of more sophisticated distribution systems so as to avoid products sitting in warehouses, and the creation of more composting facilities directly related to the disposal or these products would be needed. In Japan, the Biodegradable Plastics society (BPS) has proposed a standard for degradability that has been accepted there and is being considered by the International Standards Organization.

The OK Compost Conformity Mark is awarded jointly by the international quality inspection bureau A.I.B.-Vinçotte Inter and Organic Waste System, a research institute in the field of biodegradability. Manufacturers can use this label on their material as a proof that it passes the biodegradability test and is appropriate to compost. So far, no internationally adopted standard laboratory method exists for investigating aerobic biodegradability in a composting environment.

Challenges ahead

Acceptance of biodegradable polymers is likely to depend on four unknowns: (1) customer response to costs that today are generally 2 to 4 times higher than for conventional polymers; (2) possible legislation (particularly concerning water-soluble polymers); (3) the achievement of total biodegradability; and (4) the development of an infrastructure to collect, accept, and process biodegradable polymers as a generally available option for waste disposal.

In a social context biodegradable plastics call for a re-examination of life-styles. They will require separate collection, involvement of the general public, greater community responsibility in installing recycling systems, etc. On the question of cost, awareness may often be lacking of the significance of both disposal and the environmental costs which are to be added to the processing cost.

Biodegradability is tied to a specific environment. For instance, the usual biodegradation time requirement for bioplastic to be composted is 1 to 6 months. In Europe, composting is on the increase, and the percentage of population with composting facilities available for their rubbish stands at about 80% in the Netherlands, 40% in Germany, and 30% in Belgium. Adequate regulation is still lacking however, and complaints have already appeared, for example in the Netherlands, where citizens must pay the same tax for plastics that go to composting as for those that go to incineration.

The development of starch-based biodegradable plastics looks very promising given the fact that starch is inexpensive, available annually, biodegradable in several environments and incinerable. The main drawbacks the industry is running into are bioplastics’ low water-barrier and the migration of hydrophilic plasticizers with consequent ageing phenomena. The first problem together with the cost factor is common to all other biodegradable plastics.

As far as biological polyesters (PHA) are concerned, the recent purchase of Zeneca’s Biopol business by Monsanto, who aims to expand it to include plant-derived polymers, does not suggest a bright future for microbial production of these polymers. Nevertheless, research on the production of the polymers by bacteria is worthwhile because it may be useful in helping us understand how to expand the range of polymers made by plants.

In summary, the bioplastics of the future will be produced from renewable sources, will have a low energy content and will display in-use properties similar to those of conventional plastics.

Googled a killer deck on this from a preso done for a conference in Ontario last April – many of the slides are the same:

Novamont Power Point

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.

Note slide 6 in the deck above mentions two key patent portfolio expansions – 1997′s acquisition of the Warner Lambert portfolio and the 2001 exclusive licensing of the Biotec patents for the film industry, which appear to be the basis for their business development today.

Martha Matteo complimented Ms. Bastioli on her great case study (in CTI) example, then asked about whether Novamont has tried to engage emerging economies to help clone their business model of industrial modularity? She answered on a project in China to see if they could help implement low impact agriculture that might produce more expensive products, but as a system it is much cheaper because of the end-of-life waste management issues.

This was  really key answer that kind of brought it all together for me – that is, the system-economy extends the value chain through ecological impact as a key consideration of the cost structure of the business model, so that products themselves might be more costly but in total would have a much less cost structure as a system. Thanks Martha for asking the question that helped me get the big picture point. ;-)

Thunderous applause… coffee break!