Conventional foamed plastics have useful characteristics but are ecologically destructive. The raw materials are petroleum based, non-biodegradable, and the foaming agents are toxic. To eliminate these drawbacks, PLASTECO developed a process using 100% biodegradable plant-derived materials and nitrogen or CO2 as the foaming agent.
Microcellular foaming with precision controlled bubble size—a huge technological challenge—is the secret. It achieves better insulating performance, greater strength, easy moldability, a nicer feel, and reduces raw material costs—the main barrier to widespread use. If supplied to Starbucks, economies of scale would reduce material costs to a competitive level.