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LIMEX: Alternate Plastic and Paper Material

LIMEX: Alternate Plastic and Paper Material

TBM Co., Ltd. (Times Bridge Management)

Creating an Industry with the New
Material LIMEX which Balances
Ecological Sustainability and Economic Viability

LIMEX developed by TBM Co., Ltd. is a new material made mainly from limestone (CaCO3), that can be used as an alternative to plastic or paper.

                                                                Fig. 1 The Principle concept of LIMEX

As the development and production of alternative materials for plastic such as Bio PE, Bio PA and PHA progress globally, LIMEX is a cost-competitive and environmentally friendly new material.

Since limestone is the main raw material of LIMEX, which can be procured all over the world. Considering the spread of limestone at the national level, . Manufacturing LIMEX and its products require less amount of material than manufacturing plastic products. Another feature of LIMEX is that it can have various physical characteristics corresponding to the raw materials to be combined. It is possible to develop physical properties such as biodegradability, biomass, recyclability, etc. according to the regulations and demands of countries and regions.

By creating a locally-grown and locally-consumed industrial model abroad, we will contribute to the creation of local industries and employment.

Product video:

Major Features and Advantages

I. Material composition

Brand new material made mainly from limestone (50-80% calcium carbonate in the final product), that can be used as an alternative to paper or plastic. Our unique patented technology is to fill inorganic substances at a high ratio; more than 50% by weight. By using limestone which is a highly sustainable material with abundant reserves all over the world, LIMEX can offer various economic and social benefits.

II. Industry creation

LIMEX can be produced using the production facilities that already exists on the current market. No need for LIMEX dedicated equipment. Since there are almost no geographical conditions and restrictions, it is possible to create industries in areas where industrialization was difficult so far. Main raw material can be procured all over the world, a very limited amount of water is required in manufacturing. When LIMEX factory is established, the locals can be hired as employees.

III. As an alternative to plastic

Compared with conventional petroleum-derived plastic, LIMEX production consumes less oil and emits less CO2. Chemical and physical properties of calcium carbonate enable LIMEX to be applied for various applications such as inflation molding and injection molding, which have been widely used in plastic manufacture.

IV. As an alternative to paper

While conventional paper requires massive amounts of water and trees to produce, the production of LIMEX Sheets uses no water*1 or fiber-based pulp and emits less CO2. LIMEX can be produced even in areas where paper production was difficult due to scarce of water and forest resources. It is water resistant, hard to tear, and strong. The texture is luxurious.

*1: Except for cooling water for machinery

V. Environmental sustainability

Non-product outputs are a limited amount of LIMEX sheet scraps and a small amount of concentrated cooling water from cooling devices. The impact on the local environment (agriculture, forestry and fisheries/health and hygiene) is expected to be extremely limited.  High-load wastewater or a large amount of dangerous substances will NOT be generated and released in a river basin nearby. Toxic chemicals are not used in the manufacturing process. In principle, product design and manufacturing take the environmental impact caused by energy and fuel input into consideration. Life Cycle Assessment is conducted in terms of GHG emission and water consumption which shows that LIMEX can reduce environmental negative impacts compared to conventional petroleum-derived products.

VI. Unique manufacturing technology

By using our original manufacturing technology such as raw material formulation and molding, it is possible to manufacture LIMEX by using production facilities that already exists on the current market. Users tend to avoid difficulties such as training for operators accompanied by the installation of new production facilities.

Technology Data

Possible applications

The LIMEX compound can be used for the following applications. We have a track record of applications in Japan.

As an alternative to plastic

[Applications]
Food container, mask case, folder, ball-point pen, household item, honeycomb board, construction materials (OA floor), backlit poster, shopping bags, non-woven products etc.
You can find the track record of the products at our website: https://tb-m.com/en/news/

* Planned in the future
Furniture surface sheet, automobile materials

  Fig. 2 LIMEX application and track record of plastic use

As an alternative to paper

[Applications]
Booklets, map, tag, folder box, menu book, POP display, business card, sticker/label, poster, banner etc.
You can find the track record of the products on our website: https://tb-m.com/en/news/

Fig. 3 LIMEX applition and track record of paper use

Competitive advantage

For non-petroleum-derived plastic materials

  • Different types of products can be produced by combining new non-petroleum-derived plastic materials (high-priced materials such as PHA and Bio PE) with LIMEX which is made from inexpensive calcium carbonate.
  • Our group company Bioworks Corporation develops modifiers that enhance the functionality of PLA (biomass biodegradable plastic). The material can be one of the combining options. Taking advantage of PLA’s characteristic of being gentle on human skin, Bioworks Corporation (https://bioworks.co.jp/en/company/) has already used PLA as fiber for face masks. It is a personal protective equipment (PPE) that can reduce the use of petroleum-derived plastics as the consumption of plastics with extremely short life cycles increases due to the spread of the new coronavirus infection.

For plastic products

  • By using limestone as the main raw material, it is possible to significantly reduce the amount of petroleum-derived resin used.
  • From the raw material procurement process for pellets to the manufacturing process, the amount of greenhouse gas emitted from LIMEX is expected to reduce by about 25% compared to general plastics. This reduction rate depends on the products and conditions.
  • Since limestone is abundant all over the world, it is highly possible that raw materials can be procured locally. Energy and cost required for raw material procurement can be optimized.

For paper products

  • LIMEX sheet can reduce water resource consumption by about 99% compared to general printing paper from the raw material procurement process to the manufacturing process.
  • For the above reason, it is unlikely to have a negative impact on the local river basin, and it is comparatively easy to manage industrial waste.

Performance

Physical property values

  • Plastic alternatives
    Please contact us if you would like to know about physical properties since we have various grades according to the applications.

  • Paper alternatives
    The physical properties vary depending on the product type. The values of the LIMEX sheet manufactured at our plant (Shiroishi City, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan) are as follows (see Table 1)

Table 1 Physical properties

Result of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

  • We have conducted LCA calculation in terms of GHG emissions and water consumption of LIMEX products. (e. g. LIMEX pellets for vacuum forming, LIMEX bags, LIMEX sheets, etc.) It has been confirmed that many LIMEX products can reduce GHG emissions compared to conventional plastic products. Please contact us if you are interested, as it depends on the grade and application.

Energy and resource input

  • LIMEX compounds can be manufactured in plastic compound manufacturing facilities, and the energy and resource input required for manufacturing are similar.
  • The resources required to manufacture 1 ton of paper and LIMEX sheet are as follows, respectively. The amounts of resources required by LIMEX is relatively small.
    • Paper| Wood pulp: approx. 1ton and water: approx. 85ton *
    • LIMEX| limestone and inorganic substances: approx. 0.6-0.8 ton and resin: 0.2-0.4 ton
      * Source: Industrial Statistics Table (Japan)
  • Comparing conventional plastic products with LIMEX products, the proportion of petroleum-derived raw materials can be significantly reduced.
    • Conventional plastic 100% petroleum-derived resin
    • LIMEX| limestone and inorganic substances: approx. 50-80% and petroleum-derived resin: approx. 20-50%

Recycling performance

  • LIMEX sheet (paper alternative) uses limestone (inorganic substance) as the main raw material. Since it has a formulation that is less likely to deteriorate than general resins, highly efficient recycling can be realized.
  • As a plastic alternative, used LIMEX products such as LIMEX sheets can be collected, crushed, and pelletized for upcycling.
  • One of the characteristics of LIMEX’s recycling performance is that it can be upcycled once it has been used while suppressing the decline in the value of materials and products.

Fig. 4 Recycling scheme of LIMEX

Technical maturity / Past record of introduction

Since the product sales started in 2016, more than 5,300 companies/organizations have introduced LIMEX products (bags, business cards, menu tables, booklets, etc.) in Japan. The positive evaluation of both environmental performance and economic merit of LIMEX is leading to the growth of the track record. Manufacture of LIMEX products is expanding not only in Japan but also in China, Vietnam, etc.

Information on patent related to this technology

A list of countries where we obtained patents related to LIMEX is as follows.
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Italy, South Korea, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, USA, Vietnam

Patent numbers related to LIMEX are as follows (partial excerpt).
US 2020-0224016 A1, US 10669387 B2, US 2020-0024417 A1, US 2019-0283275 A1, US 10363701 B2, US 2019-0176364 A1, US 2019-0048156 A1, US 2017-0217078 A1, US 9492964 B2, US 2016-0318232 A1, US 2016-0250800 A1, US 2015-0353695 A1, US 2014-0100328 A1, WO 2020/149038 A1, WO 2020/084945 A1, WO 2020/066636 A1, WO 2019/059222 A1, WO 2018/212179 A1, WO 2018/096834 A1, WO 2018/092494 A1, WO2018/092481 A1, WO 2018/056136 A1, WO 2018/047754 A1, WO 2018/030455 A1, WO 2018/030454 A1, WO 2018/025951 A1, WO 2017/170112 A1, WO 2017/150307 A1, WO 2017/138568 A1, WO 2016/051612 A1, WO 2015/166960 A1, WO 2015/060271 A1, WO 2014/109267 A1, WO 2012/165311 A1, EP 3686242 A1, EP 3542982 A1, EP 3511369 A1, EP 3498445 A1, EP 2944668 B1, EP 3437817 A1, EP 3415557 A1, EP 2716696 B1, EP 3202551 A1, EP 3061590 A1, EP 2944668 A1, EP 2716696 A1, CN 109952181 A, CN 104968720 B, CN 109715714 A, CN 109311183 A, CN 108699275 A, CN 108698255 A, CN 106715082 A, CN 106232336 A, CN 105682891 A, CN 104968720 A, CN 103562281 B, CN 103562281 A

Company Data

Name TBM Co., Ltd. (Times Bridge Management)
Address The 6th Floor, 2-7-17, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061
Capital 13.5299 billion JPY (including legal capital surplus)
Contact person

Ms. Sae ISHIHARA
Email: s-ishihara@tb-m.com
TEL: +81-3-3538-6777
Corporate website: https://tb-m.com/en/limex/

Number of employees 178 (as of October 2020)
Date of company foundation August30, 2011
The type of business

Research and development, production and sales of LIMEX

                  

International operation

Number of employees for international operation 
6 (1 person currently working in Thailand)
Overseas offices
City, Country Name of Company (if applicable)
San Francisco, USA Times Bridge Management Global

Modality of business transaction

Partnership
We will conclude a manufacturing consignment contract with a local partner company, disclose the recipe, and consign the manufacturing of LIMEX compounds and sheets. Sales will be carried out by TBM, or a local partner company will be the sales agent, and sales of LIMEX compounds and products will be outsourced.

Export of Product
Nominate a local partner company as a sales agent, export LIMEX compounds and products, and outsource local sales.

Licensing of Product

A license agreement is signed with a local partner company to disclose the recipe, and the local partner company manufactures and sells LIMEX compounds and sheets.

Attachments

Schematic illustration of the technology

Introduction movie of Shiroishi Plant (to be added)
Shiroishi Plant is our LIMEX sheet manufacturing factory in Japan. You can see the process of manufacturing LIMEX sheet.

Multi-stakeholder cooperation for a circular economy (Japanese only)
(1) Launched “Kanagawa Upcycling Consortium” in collaboration with Kanagawa Prefecture (May 5, 2019)
https://tb-m.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/190529_tbm_press-release.pdf

(2) Concluded a partnership agreement with Yokohama City for recycling-oriented innovation (October 19,2019)
https://tb-m.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/191010_tbm_press-release.pdf

Release related to overseas expansion (Japanese only)

(1) Concluded a basic agreement on LIMEX business in Henan Province, China with TBM, Yuzi, ITOCHU, and XinJin (November 15, 2019)
https://tb-m.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/191115_tbm_press-release.pdf 

(2) TBM signed basic agreement with Saudi Basic Industry Corporation (SABIC) and participates in “NUSANED” program (October 25, 2019)
https://tb-m.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/191025_tbm_press-release.pdf

(3) TBM, Limex Mongolia LLC, signed basic agreement with Mongolian National Development Agency (September 24, 2019)
https://tb-m.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/190924_tbm_press-release-1.pdf

Our approach to the SDGs
Prospect for the plastic and paper markets

 

Contact Person(s)

Ms. Sae ISHIHARAE-mail: s-ishihara@tb-m.com

*Please mention that you saw UNIDO's website when making the first contact with the company.

Registered Category

  • Environmental Technologies : Circular Economy (3R)