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Speaker Interview - Ross Ellis

Senior Scientist at Borregaard

Question 1 - Can you elaborate on the specific water-based production processes used at the Borregaard biorefinery to disentangle lignin and cellulose from wild Norway Spruce in the creation of the Pionera and Exilva biopolymer ranges?

Ross: The process involves water and a benign naturally-occurring inorganic salt. This causes the lignin to become charged and dissolve in the water, separating it from the insoluble cellulose fibres.

Question 2 -  You highlight the unique wetting, dispersing, film-forming, and rheological properties of the biopolymers. How do these properties contribute to boosting the performance of detergents in various applications, such as dishwasher, hard surface, and fabric-care detergents?

Ross: Lignin biopolymers are multi-functional ingredients that bring many benefits to cleaning performance. Primarily, they are able dispersants, keeping loosened dirt particles suspended in the wash water and preventing redeposition onto surfaces. This translates to reduction in dishwasher film, improved fabric whiteness over multiple wash cycles, and improved cleaning results (shine) in hard surface.

Question 3 - What are the specific implications of using these biopolymers in terms of sustainability and environmental impact, compared to traditional detergent ingredients?

Ross: The sustainability and environmental impact are as follows:

  • Circularity: Borregaard’s lignin biopolymers are certified as bio-circular materials according to ISCC PLUS, that states the raw material meets the definition as a residue according to ISCC. Traditional polymers are either based on oil or primary agricultural food crops like sugar, and so are not circular.
  • Naturality: Borregaard’s lignin biopolymers have a natural origin index (NOI) of 1 and an organic origin index (OOI) of 1 according to ISO 16128. The biopolymers have minimal chemical modification. Traditional polymers are produced using synthetic organic chemistry and have an organic backbone that is not found in nature, and are produced either from oil or commodity sugars from industrial agriculture.
  • Traceability: Borregaard’ raw materials and production are all located in Scandinavia. This ensures ethical harvesting, production, and local supply chains. This compares to traditional polymers which are produced from global commodity materials such as sugar and oil, where it is difficult to ensure ethical production.

Question 4 - Can you provide examples of how these biopolymers improve the performance of cleaning products, and how do they compare to conventional alternatives in terms of effectiveness and environmental impact?

Ross: Borregaard lignin biopolymers can be used, for example, in place of polycarboxylates in dishwasher tablets as anti-filming additives. Equivalent performance with traditional polycarboxylates can be achieved, but the environmental impact of using lignin biopolymers is significantly better than traditional polycarboxylates or newer sugar-based polymers for the reasons stated above.

Question 5 - What aspects of the upcoming conference are you most eagerly looking forward to?

Ross: I look forward to fruitful discussions with industry leaders engaged with sustainability

DAY TWO - 10th APRIL 2024

11.20am - SESSION FOCUS: Sustainable Polymers in the Spotlight

‘Spruce-up’ with wood-based biopolymers - Ross Ellis