Our Innovations

our innovations

OVER 40 YEARS OF RESEARCH AND MORE THAN 200 PATENTS FILED

Each year, 8 million tonnes of plastic are found in the oceans, which is equivalent to dumping the contents of a waste truck every minute. Safeguarding the oceans, rivers and biodiversity from pollution due to plastics has now become an imperative.

Recognising this, SPHERE group took the decision 20 years ago to build an environmental strategy with:

The development of these innovative products addressed two key concerns for the Group: the environmental impact of these materials and the end of life of finished products.

A growth and differentiation strategy

Strategy 1

A pioneer in the research and development of environmentally-friendly materials

SPHERE and its subsidiary BIOTEC are continuously working on the research and development of new biosourced, biodegradable and compostable materials in land and marine environments.

Strategy 2

Compliance with social laws and European standards for Group products and production facilities

Compliance with quality, safety and environmental standards is a fundamental approach for the Group.
Within the national and European bodies responsible for changing regulations, the SPHERE Group plays an expert and advisory role.

Strategy 3

A sustainable partner for its customers

SPHERE anticipates the needs of its customers and supports them in their commercial expansion.
From eco design to marketing, SPHERE offers its customers personalised advice and tailor-made products.

Strategy 1

A pioneer in the research and development of environmentally-friendly materials

SPHERE and its subsidiary BIOTEC are continuously working on the research and development of new biosourced, biodegradable and compostable materials in land and marine environments.

Strategy 2

Compliance with social laws and European standards for Group products and production facilities

Compliance with quality, safety and environmental standards is a fundamental approach for the Group.
Within the national and European bodies responsible for changing regulations, the SPHERE Group plays an expert and advisory role.

Strategy 3

A sustainable partner for its customers

SPHERE anticipates the needs of its customers and supports them in their commercial expansion.
From eco design to marketing, SPHERE offers its customers personalised advice and tailor-made products.

Investing in more environmentally-friendly materials

Conscious for the past 40 years of the need to take environmental issues into account, SPHERE has anticipated changes and has been one step ahead of new national and European regulations by developing materials which:

  • are increasingly more well-adapted and sustainable;
  • are designed in accordance with a circular production and consumption model;
  • address the question of the end of life of these products.

To date, three major sets of innovative materials have been developed and marketed by SPHERE:

  • recycled plastic;
  • plant-based plastic;
  • 100% biodegradable and compostable plastic.

Recycled plastic: preserving natural resources

As part of its global ecological product range, SPHERE has been incorporating a very high proportion of recycled plastic into its polyethylene products for more than 20 years (50% of SPHERE’s total production).

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Waste from our production facilities is recycled on site and re-added into production to limit the impact on the environment. Exterior plastic waste is also reprocessed for re-use. In this connection, SPHERE also purchases large quantities of recycled plastic pellets from recyclers.

Finished products

This raw material is used in the manufacture of the Group’s bin bags and packaging products.

End of life

The Group offers local authorities an efficient service for the recovery and recycling of bags used for the collection of household packaging.
Finished products in recycled polyethylene are recyclable, like virgin materials.

Plant-based plastic: reducing CO2 emissions

Since 2011 SPHERE has used plant-based polyethylene, a material made from sugar cane with a reduced or even zero carbon impact.

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The life cycle of the plant-based polyethylene bag, from its production to its recycling, generates up to 95% less greenhouse gas emissions than the same petroleum-based polyethylene bag.

Finished products

SPHERE uses this material for its bin bags, freezer bags and cling films.

End of life

Plant-based plastic products can be recycled with plastics in fossil polyethylene to produce new plastic products.

ACV Study 2011 - PriceWaterhouseCoopers

100% biodegradable and compostable bioplastic

Since 2005, SPHERE has developed a range of products made from a biosourced and compostable material based on inedible potato starch produced in France without GMOs: Bioplast®.

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Finished products

SPHERE produces bin bags, disposable cutlery, fruit and vegetable bags, coffee capsules, etc. made from its biodegradable and compostable resins.
Bioplast® products are certified by the OK compost INDUSTRIAL or OK compost HOME labels for a wide range of thicknesses.

End of life

Biodegradable and compostable bioplastics can be collected with organic waste (food and garden waste) for industrial or domestic organic recycling.
The material is completely bio-assimilated (totally ingested by micro-organisms) in maximum 6 months (12 months for domestic composting due to temperature differences).
Composting (domestic or industrial) results in two products: compost, which is used as a natural fertiliser to enrich the soil, and/or renewable energy.

Standard

Bioplast® resins comply with the French standard NF T51-800 for domestic composting. They comply with the French and European standard NF EN 13432 for industrial composting in a wide range of thicknesses.

The materials of tomorrow

The bioplastic biodegradable in water

On the verge of meeting one of the greatest ecological challenges of the 21st century: plastic pollution of aquatic environments (seas, lakes and rivers).
SPHERE Group is developing a new type of material that biodegrades in contact with micro-organisms without impacting biodiversity.

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This new bioplastic is revolutionary on several levels:

  • It is rainproof during use and its resistance is equivalent to that of conventional plastics.
  • It is digested by the micro-organisms found in all natural environments, i.e. land, sea, lake and river, without being harmful to ecosystems.
  • It disappears completely, i.e. without leaving any microplastics, after a few months depending on the conditions and type of bioplastic, while conventional plastics accumulate in the seas for centuries.
  • The ingestion of particles by wildlife is not toxic.

This bioplastic will thus allow the production of a range of specific products to limit the pollution caused by accidental spillages into both land and aquatic environments. Bioplastics are not intended to be thrown into the environment and will not erase the damage caused up until now by pollution in the oceans, but it will help to reduce it.

Finished products

Packaging, and in particular plastic bags, are among the most relevant applications for biodegradable and compostable plastics: green and organic waste collection bags, fruit and vegetable bags, reusable bags, fresh food packaging, etc.
Other applications are being studied, in particular for plastic tableware (cutlery, cups, etc.), certain hygiene products (cotton swabs, etc.), but also for agricultural uses (mulching, string, clips).

End of life

The testing of biodegradable plastic in the marine environment has certified that it can be used for industrial and home composting. Consequently, it can be collected with organic waste (food and garden waste).

Standards

The European Single Use Plastics (SUP) Directive currently under final validation recognises the crucial role of scientific research and innovation in the fight against land and marine pollution caused by plastics.
It provides for the monitoring of scientific and technical progress in the field of research into biodegradable materials in the marine environment and, in a desire to provide a harmonised framework for the development of this innovative technology, stresses the need to develop a European standard on marine biodegradability.
Biodegradable plastics thus complement existing solutions for achieving the objectives of the circular economy.
To date, the only label covering almost all aspects of marine degradation (disintegration, bio-assimilation, non-toxicity) is the OK Biodegradable Marine label from TüV Austria - Belgium (formerly Vinçotte, acquired at the end of 2017).