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Electronics major to recycle bio blends

Japanese company Sharp has developed technology to mix corn-derived bioplastics with conventional plastics recovered from scrapped consumer appliances.

The company said it expects to use such blends in its consumer electronic products by early 2007.

Petroleum-derived plastics are generally incompatible with bioplastics so blends tend to show inferior properties such as impact strength and heat resistance. Sharp, however, claims to have overcome these problems with a micro dispersion technology that "dramatically" improves the properties of the blended material.

A company statement said: "Sharp is conducting tests to assess commercial potential, with the goal of using blended plastic in Sharp products within fiscal 2006."

This, it noted, will build on its existing systems that enable repeated re-use of polypropylene and polystyrene from discarded electrical appliances in new products.

It estimates polymers derived from plants and the waste stream will grow to represent 30% of plastics used in all products by 2010.

The increase, it forecast, will be supported by the more favourable pricing of materials from renewable resources and by on-going trends towards more sustainable industrial practices.

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