When fashion is bio

A new compound made of cellulose acetate, completely biodegradable and recyclable, offering better performances especially for aesthetic applications

There are materials that, in spite of age and natural technological evolution maintain a charm that makes them unique and hardly replaceable, even after decades. Certainly cellulose acetate is included in this category as it is a polymer of natural origin that is not so common among insiders, but maintains an absolute predominance in the eyewear industry, with incomparable aesthetic qualities as for color depth, optical effects, warm and silky touch. Made from renewable resources – cotton or wood pulp – it is a factor that wasn’t enhanced by the producers in the past, but in recent years with the introduction of bio-plastics, it becomes another plus, especially in market-oriented sectors such as fashion and design.

A last step towards bio
Only a little step had to be climbed to transform the cellulose acetate used in the industrial field in a biodegradable plastic, i.e. the replacement of plasticizers and traditional pigments with organic additives. Step climbed by one of the main producers of specialties made from this polymer, the Italian Mazzucchelli 1849, which has recently presented the bio compound with the M49 brand, just to underline the differences with traditional degrees. Besides being made from renewable re¬sources, the new plastic is biodegradable according to ISO 14855 standard (verified by the Belgian Organic Waste System institute) in 115 days, and there are still tests in progress to evaluate the possibility of achieving EN 13432 certification which certifies biodegradable and compoundable material under controlled conditions.
The purpose stated by the company is to merge fashion and environmental sustainability, offering glasses and other design items manufacturers a material made entirely from renewable resources, biodegradable and recyclable, which at the same time also introduces another important and purely technical innovation. The first brand that chose M49 for an eyewear line was Gucci, soon followed by other producers. With the bio version of cellulose acetate Mazzucchelli also aims to enter new markets, always linked to design, but not necessarily to eyewear. A German furniture manufacturer, for example, has selected the bio polymer to produce a new line of plastic/glass panels for furnishings.

Now, more versatile

Thanks to the replacement of conventional plasticizers based on phthalates with new organic formulations, M49 cellulose acetate today is compatible with polycarbonate and PMMA: this means being able to combine frames in this material with a higher variety of lenses, previously limited to glass and nylon. The reason is in the migration of phthalates from plastic material, which by interacting with the polycarbonate causes in time phenomena of mist and opacity, jeopardizing the visual qualities. By eliminating phthalates from the for¬mulation, the problem is solved. In the tests carried out on the new formulation, before launching it on the market, Mazzucchelli 1849 has also noted an improvement in other mechanical properties, such as stress elongation, ul¬timate strength and yield point, as well as hardness, without jeopardizing impact resistance, which remains a fundamental requirement in this type of applications.