When Crown Research Institue, Scion, approached us to help develop a faster degrading bioplastic vine clip for the viticulture industry, we threw everything we could at the challenge.
Harnessing the expertise of our extrusion team, we optimised the clip to create a solution that's not just sustainable, but scalable too.
Every year the New Zealand wine industry uses an estimated 16.8 million plastic vine clips to hold nets over ripening bunches of grapes to prevent loss from birds and other pests.
The clips are used for 6 - 8 weeks until the nets are removed and the clips fall to the ground. This leaves a growing pile of plastic littering vineyards around the country and contributes to an emerging environmental problem: the accumulation of non-degrading litter of broken net clips in vineyards and the subsequent generation of microplastic pollution.
With the viticulture industry keen to stamp out the waste, Scion began developing a faster-degrading vine clip made of grape marc and bioplastic.
Led by researcher Steph Weal they trialled different prototypes at a local vineyard, testing numerous formulations before arriving at the right mechanical and physical properties.
The next challenge was ensuring the clip could go the distance to be produced at a commercial scale, and that's where our team's expertise really came in to play.
With the prototype clips showing real promise, our team was tasked to look for opportunities to improve the clip and ready it for production at scale.
Initial extrusion trials from our team lead to further formulation development, as we worked to optimise the raw material processing.
The improved formulations were then converted into clips via extrusion and secondary processing in our Christchurch plant.
The finished clips were then distributed for real-life testing. They were sent to vineyards, and having now recognised out of industry applications, to bread manufacturers as a potential replacement for plastic bread clips.
Initial feedback has been very positive, with the project now set to deliver a solution to the market that has a much more sustainable and greener footprint.
The innovative new clip is made of biodegradable polymers and renewable additives.
What was a short-life, single-use product has now been revolutionised, with a sustainable product in its place - one that has an appropriate, environmentally friendly end of life.
Whether you're looking for help in new product design or in improving processes behind an existing product, our team is here to help.