This month we had the opportunity to talk with Luca Zanetti, Senior Regulatory Manager at SAPICI and leader of MANDALA’s Business Plan, Exploitation & IPRs Management.
What’s the role of your organization in this project?
SAPICI plays a dual role : as a technical part, thanks to the fact of being a large enterprise that has been operating for many years in the field of PU (Polyurethane) adhesives production for Flexible Packaging, has selected the optimal adhesive system for the necessary modifications for the development of a dual functional adhesive and after has the responsibility of the task related to the lab upscaling of the functional adhesive. The other role is to cover the Exploitation management of the project , IPR activities and business plan.
You are leading the task to create a preliminary business plan to demonstrate the commercial potential of MANDALA’s key exploitable results (products, technology and services); what would you say that are the main hurdles of this goal?
The MANDALA project has a great strength : the future market perspectives for biodegradable bio-based plastics, in recent years, has gained attention due to its potential role in creating a fully sustainable and circular bioeconomy. As an expression of a growing environmental awareness of consumers, the demand for bioplastics is rising. So, the novelty of the concept developed in MANDALA project is expected to have high potentiality for exploitation, the problem is how to manage it within the project.
MANDALA project is a very complex one and comprises many partners with different specializations and different capacities to exploit the results. Another important point is that only a few partners will point to an IPR action in the classic way.
I can say that in the first 12 months of the project we worked in this direction and we managed to obtain a good balance of the different possible outcomes of the partners.
How does MANDALA differentiate from its competitors?
Mandala projects is matching one of the most important challenge of the flexible packaging industry, for which the packaging industry is always more and more under pressure by local and international authorities, and according our industry will manage this critical issue it will depend the future of the converting industry itself.
MANDALA will not only develop and easy to split functional concept of adhesive but will integrate and up-scale the module technology inside the primary recycling process. This will allow partners not only provide a final product but a final technology and service as result, which highly increase the impact of the project and provides a global solution for the industry in the sector with a high potential for replication in further solutions.
What would you say that are the main risks to market entry?
I could answer starting from the DRO analysis.
There are some drivers like the high demand for eco-friendly bottles and containers , we absolutely must not underestimate the opportunities that are related to the growing government regulations against the use of non-recyclable plastic materials, and of course there are some risk, the main one is the high cost of bio-based material.
The production costs of bioplastics are highly dependent on the development of feedstock prices. Currently, bioplastics are mainly produced from corn starch or sugar cane. If the prices for corn or sugar rise, the production costs and thus the prices for bioplastic also increase. The higher prices would in turn lead to a decline in demand for bioplastics.
But let me say that this could be mitigated by other factors like the development of crude oil prices that significantly influences the development of bioplastics demand. As conventional plastics are largely produced from crude oil, the price depends strongly on the development of the oil price. With a high oil price and the associated high prices for fossil plastics, bioplastics become more attractive as a substitute; therefore, an increase in oil price will lead to an increase in bioplastic demand.
Another factor could be rise in GDP that could lead to an increase in the demand for plastics in general and thus also to an increase in the demand for bioplastics. Assuming that market participants with higher incomes spend higher prices on environmentally friendly alternatives, this effect could boost the demand for bioplastics even more.
Do you see a circular 2050 feasible?
Of course, I can’t answer for all the climate neutral action 2050. I can evaluate it from the point of view of plastics for food packaging.
Our society, economy and environment are all negatively affected by the way plastics are currently designed, produced, used and discarded, the amount of plastic litter is growing, hurting marine ecosystems, biodiversity and potentially human health.
The world recycles only 14% of the plastic packaging it uses and 72% is not recovered at all: 40% is landfilled and 32% leaks out of the collection system. Today 95% of the value of plastic packaging material is lost after a short, single-use cycle.
To solve this problem The European Commission has published its Communication “A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy’ which pursues the creation of an effective after-use plastics economy.
Circular goal in Flexible Packaging could be reached if an increasing number of European countries, will go through: