Biopolymer Network


Utilising New Zealand’s resources, our research has been focused on meeting the growing global consumer demand for green sustainable products. We source environmentally responsible alternatives from sustainably sourced plant-derived material to produce new products with scientifically proven functionality.  NZ made EcoBeans for beanbag fill and loosefill packaging are one of the results of that research.

Buy EcoBeans For Your Beanbags

​Interested in Becoming a Retailer or Wholesaler of EcoBeans?

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Bean Bag Fill

Globally, Expanded Polystyrene has been a ubiquitous presence for decades – a common sight in packaging heavy/fragile goods or keeping perishables fresh and now more and more commonly in household furniture. Increasingly however, it is viewed as a symbol of the plastic pollution that continues to build across the globe and is now a focus of concern for the general public, conservationists, mainstream media, social media and large, socially responsible corporate entities. The world is ready for change and EcoBeans are ready to be part of this movement for good.

Bean Bags Are Versatile and On Trend

Within the home, more and more, areas such as the kitchen or lounge are being used for multiple activities such as cooking, studying, watching television, gaming and generally relaxing (particularly in developed countries). Rooms are gradually losing their customary use and are used as spaces with numerous possible functions. This has produced a desire for portable, flexible furniture that can be moved to allow for multiple uses. Bean bags can be used indoors and outdoors as a chair, a lounger, a table, a floor cushion or a foot stool.


Modern homes in many countries are now smaller with more apartment-style living and again furniture that is both portable and can provide different functions is sought after. Growing demand for luxury and branded furniture coupled with an increase in spending on home décor is another key factor in driving the increased demand for bean bags.


In commercial spaces, flexible seating styles have been gaining popularity in schools, offices and bars / restaurants. Such seating in schools is thought to allow more creative spaces promoting discussion and teamwork and the flexibility to “redesign” the classroom by easily moving furniture. The chairs are also in demand for their ergonomic advantages, providing a better, learning environment in a more relaxed environment. Research studies have reported that productivity increases by about 17 – 18% among employees using adjustable seating furniture at office spaces.


The increase both in the bean bag chair market, and consumer awareness and interest in sustainable alternatives to traditional plastics, has created a huge demand for safe, sustainable and functional bean bag fill offered by EcoBeans 

Disposal of EcoBeans

EcoBeans are made solely from Polylactic Acid (PLA) with no nasty additives. There are a number of potential disposal options for PLA, including industrial composting, incineration and, where infrastructure is available, recycling. 

If available, industrial composting is an excellent disposal option. For composting to occur the right combination of moisture, heat and micro-organisms is required.  The description and diagram below from the Natureworks (manufacturers of the PLA brand Ingeo) website describe the process. Click on Ingeo Composting to visit their webpage. Currently we utilise the raw material, Ingeo PLA resin to produce EcoBeans.  Check out NZ composters The Brothers Green composting video on Facebook.

How Composting PLA Works

Ingeo biopolymer is made primarily of polylactic acid (PLA), a repeating chain of lactic acid, which undergoes a 2-step degradation process. 

1. DISINTEGRATION: The moisture and heat in the compost pile split the polymer chains apart, creating smaller polymers, and finally, lactic acid. 

2. BIODEGRADATION: Microorganisms in compost and soil consume the smaller polymer fragments and lactic acid as nutrients. Since lactic acid is widely found in nature, a large number of organisms metabolize lactic acid.

The end result of composting is carbon dioxide, water and humus, a soil nutrient. This degradation process is temperature and humidity dependent. 

While there are a number of composting facilities throughout New Zealand, composting of PLA is still relatively new and infrastructure for this is limited.  We are working with some of these facilities to get EcoBeans accredited and accepted for composting.  To ensure that EcoBeans are correctly disposed of, we will, where possible, take back your old EcoBeans, although they must be clean and not contaminated with other materials such as polystyrene.  Please contact us if you need to dispose of your EcoBeans.

We recently ran a trial at a commercial composting facility.  They placed the EcoBeans into their normal composting process.  After 3 weeks the material was turned over and the EcoBeans were degrading nicely.  After a further 3 weeks EcoBeans had composted to become invisible to the naked eye.

See below for information on European and Australian Industrial Composting Standards

The criteria for the industrial compostability of packaging are set out in the European standard EN 13432. EN 13432 requires the compostable plastics to disintegrate after 12 weeks and completely biodegrade after six months. That means that 90 percent or more of the plastic material will have been converted to CO2.

The Australian standard AS 4736-2006 provides assessment criteria for plastic materials that are to be biodegraded in municipal and industrial aerobic composting facilities. This Australian standard is similar to the widely known European EN 13432 standard, but has an additional requirement of a worm test. In order to comply with the AS 4736-2006, plastic materials need to meet the following requirements:

·minimum of 90% biodegradation of plastic materials within 180 days in compost
·minimum of 90% of plastic materials should disintegrate into less than 2mm pieces in compost within 12 weeks
·no toxic effect of the resulting compost on plants and earthworms.
·hazardous substances such as heavy metals should not be present above the maximum allowed levels
·plastic materials should contain more than 50% organic materials.

Click on the links below
for more information on Industrial Compostability Testing at Scion, a certified biodegradation facility

Industrial Compostability Testing.pdf
Scion Compostability testing infosheet.pdf

Where other options such as composting are unavailable, one end-of-life option used globally is incineration.  Analysis by Natureworks (PLA manufacturers) shows that no volatiles and low residues are produced when incinerating PLA resin. Click on Ingeo Incineration to visit their webpage.

​Elemental Analysis

​Decomposition Products

Technical Stuff

Cyclic compression testing using a Universal Instron was undertaken to compare performance of EcoBeans and polystyrene beads.  The results below clearly show the stiffer nature of EcoBeans, which also resulted in a significant reduction in volume loss following the testing.

Things you might not know about Bioplastics

Click here for FAQs on Bioplastics from the Australasian Bioplastics Association 

Sustainable Packaging

EcoBeans for Loose Fill Packaging 
Loose fill materials are used to fill voids in packaging to protect and prevent movement within the package while not damaging the contents.  Made from sustainably-sourced plant material with no petrochemicals using our ZealaFoam® technology developed right here in New Zealand, EcoBeans are a plant-based alternative to polystyrene beads.  EcoBeans make great loose fill packaging. These beans pour easily into boxes naturally supporting and cushioning your products during transportation.  The large beads are easier to handle and dispose of than smaller beads and their light weight minimises the additional packaging weight. 



Latest News from EcoBeans

Over the last few weeks we have taken our EcoBeans to the Wellington Home & Interiors Show, the Auckland and Christchurch Go Green Expos, the Waikato Autumn Home Expo, the Tauranga Homeshow, the Fieldays at Mystery Creek.  What fantastic support we received from all you lovely people!

Here are just a few of your comments


Beanbag Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to Bruce of Eastbourne, Wellington and Jane of Mt Wellington, Auckland.   

The winner of the beanbag giveaway from the Waikato Autumn Expo is Joseph of Claudelands.​

 The winner of the beanbag giveaway from the Tauranga Homeshow was James of Matua, Tauranga.

Congratulations to Caitlin of Frankton, Hamilton winner of the beanbag giveaway from the Fieldays.

Congratulations to Karen of Rolleston, Christchurch winner of the beanbag giveaway from the Go Green Expo