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16/04/2004

Sanyo introduces the world’s first bio-plastic disc

In a ground-breaking development which could revolutionise the worlds of music, film, gaming, internet and work, Sanyo has developed the world’s first biodegradable optical disc made from corn.
The ‘MildDisc’, which is available now, is commercialised using polyactic acid, derived from corn kernels. This method, which has been researched over the past few years by Sanyo, has been developed to replace polycarbonate discs, which have traditionally been used since the first introduction of CDs to the masses in the early 1980’s.
Used for their strength and heat resistance, and being suitable for a wide range of uses due to their lightweight and transparent nature, polycarbonate discs however place a burden on the environment. A great heat is needed to incinerate them, meaning a heightened risk of air pollution. In addition, they are not biodegradable, causing them to pile up in landfills rather than being disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.
The Sanyo ‘MildDisc’ is biodegradable. Its properties will allow it to be broken down into water and carbon dioxide by microorganisms in the ground, helping to solve waste disposal problems. The release of carbon monoxide is even part of the vegetation process. In addition, they can be incinerated - the CDs burn like paper or wood – so the heat that is generated is low, and does not release any harmful dioxins.
Being made from corn derivatives, it also uses a renewable resource. Just one ear of corn can produce ten discs.
World corn production is roughly 600 million tonnes – meaning less than 0.1% of the corn harvested every year is needed to make 10 billion discs – the estimated current annual demand for CDs worldwide.
The CD case and packaging film is also composed of natural materials so the disc and case can be disposed of carefully.
The disc was researched and developed by Sanyo Japan, with co-operation from Mitsui Chemicals Inc. The corn is processed into unrefined dextrose and fermented into lactic acid, which can then be converted into a polymer through a patented process, to form the base of the optical disc.
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