Bioplastic to boost NTT cell phones’ ‘green’ credentials

NEC Corp. and Unitika Ltd. said Monday an environmentally friendly bioplastic they have jointly developed will be used in NTT DoCoMo Inc. cell phones.

The plastic, which is made with polylactic acid derived from corn, is reinforced with the fiber of another plant called kenaf, which absorbs a great deal of carbon dioxide in the air to improve its heat resistance, which makes it possible to use the material in cell phones.

Amid concerns about global warming and natural resource depletion caused by extensive use of petrochemicals, polylactic acid has drawn wide attention in industry because of its environmentally friendly properties. But the brittleness and poor heat resistance of bioplastics have, up to now, hurt their performance in electronic gadgets compared with petroleum-based plastics.

These drawbacks have been overcome through the use of kenaf and development of new methods to blend the materials, NEC and Unitika said.