Questions about us?

FAQ

What’s a biocomposite?

Generally biocomposite is the name for a composite, or a mix, of something biological with something artificial. For a few decades there have been technologies that mix plastics with plant-based material, which was frequently a waste stream. One example of an early technology simply mixed plastics with sawdust to make planks for decking. The sawdust was an inexpensive filler that provided acceptable mechanical properties for the application, being walked on.

Trifilon’s biocomposite technology represents a new generation of biocomposites. Trifilon’s 2nd generation of biocomposites use optimized plant fibers for their mechanical advantages, not simply as a filler. Trifilon’s plant fibers enhance the end material. In the case of BioLite, for example, you have a stiffer, reinforced plastic that has a vastly improved sustainability profile. Industrial hemp fibers provide that enhancement, and so Trifilon sources high-grade fibers from European farms.

What plant fibers do we use?

Trifilon’s first material technologies exploited one of the plant-world’s strongest fibers, those that forms the stems of industrial hemp. Because that plant grows tall quickly it has evolved fibers with high tensile strength and light weight.

Making those plant fibers perform in a plastic composite was no easy task. Trifilon developed fiber refinement techniques to optimally marry the fibers to underlying plastic resins. Those techniques have been applied to other fibers successfully. Another strong fiber – those from the flax plant – have been used in some of our materials. And Trifilon recently added sustainable grown cellulose fibers from Scandinavian forests to its portfolio of fiber feedstocks.  Ask if you’re interested!

Are they ‘bio-based,’ ‘bio-plastic,’ ‘biodegradable’?

Trifilon wants its partners to say exactly what they’re using. Our materials are biocomposites. They are plastics that include plant-based fibers.

Bio-based – All of our materials. This term can be misleading because it simply says that something in the material has a biological origin. So a batch of polypropylene with one leaf mixed into it is “bio-based.” Even more confusing, a drum of crude oil could be called “bio-based” because it has formed from carbon-based lifeforms millions of years ago!

Bio-plastic – Some of our materials. Again, this label can be used misleadingly to mean anything with a small plant-based component. But there is a better, more common usage that designates plastics mostly derived from plants. One of our product families, Switch, has its main ingredients from agricultural sources.

Biodegradable – No. This word refers to what happens to the plastic after it is used. A sloppy use of this word means the plastic magically disappears without toxic residue. That idea is nearly always misleading. A “biodegradable” plastic technology that rose to prominence in the 90s formed plastic bags that broke down into microscopic plastic pieces that toxify the ground or water. The technology is now banned in most countries.

The ideal afterlife of plastics would see their efficient reuse (recycling) and responsible disposal at the end of the material’s useful life. Trifilon Switch, for example, is industrially compostable. With applied heat and moisture it degrades to bio-compatible organic compounds. Other plastics are chemically recyclable. That means their chemical components can be separated for use in recreating new plastics, for example.

Are the materials recyclable?

Yes, our biocomposites can be melted and molded more than once. And they are included in regular plastic collection streams where – depending on the system used – they should be sorted according to their base plastic type.

The most efficient recycling scenario would see our biocomposites return to us. We would then use the molded components to form new pellets that could be used in another manufacturing process. Let us know if you’re interested!

Recycling is a complex topic that we know lots about. Please get in touch if you have any more specific questions.

Are they food and/or child safe?

Yes. Some of our bicomposites are approved for certain food-contact applications and for most child-contact applications. Ask for more details.

Can I buy colored material?

No. Trifilon delivers standard, uncolored granulates which can be colored using standard master batching. We do however have a number of sample plaques that show the aesthetic versatility of our materials. Evenly dispersed plant fibers are visible in the molded component, if desired. And while many other bio-based materials are dark or discolored, Trifilon biocomposites support much lighter colorations.

How are they delivered?

Trifilon delivers standard granulates, which are bagged, boxed, and shipped to the desired site – typically a manufacturing line.

Can you buy sheets or blocks of Trifilon materials?

Trifilon currently only delivers granulates and performs no molding itself.

Do we make finished or semi-finished packaging, products, or components?

Trifilon currently only delivers granulates and performs no molding itself.

How do we start?

Trifilon works with a number of stakeholders with different roles in companies including product developers, managers, owners, injection molders, designers, sustainability experts, and material engineers.

We encourage you to get in touch via email or telephone to discuss the needs of your product application and your sustainability goals. Or if you just want a sample and mechanical data, there is a form on our website.