During the World Economic Forum earlier this year in Davos, Switzerland, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation released a report on the New Plastics Economy.

The United Kingdom-based NGO, which is dedicated to the promotion of a worldwide circular economy, acknowledges that plastics have been important to global commerce. But in this 120-page report, the Foundation says too much value is lost as massive amounts of plastic, especially what is used for packaging, ends up in landfill.

Why focus on plastic?

As the production and consumption of this material are expected to increase rapidly in the coming years, the results of an unchecked plastics industry could include long-term risks to public health, further destruction of the world’s oceans and a loss of economic productivity.

Click here to read more

ABA Members are being offered a 1 year free subscription to bioplastics MAGAZINE. bioplastics MAGAZINE is the only independent bioplastics trade magazine worldwide. Published biomonthly, bioplastics MAGAZINE provides the latest and most comprehensive news on the global bioplastics industry and is a great source for anyone working in bioplastics, packaging, manufacturing or interested in the latest trends in bioplastics.

For ABA Members to receive a 1 year free subscriptions they just need to subscribe online at http://bioplasticsmagazine.com/en/kontakt/subscription.php

Just enter “ABA” in the promotion code field.

The subscription will be free for the first 6 issues (=1 year). A renewal invoice will be sent after a year and ABA Members can opt to continue to receive the magazine or choose to cancel.

Further Bonus – 10% discount on Events

ABA Members also receive a 10% discount at bioplastics MAGAZINE events.

Just enter “ABA” in the promotion code field at  http://bioplasticsmagazine.com/en/kontakt/b3_registration.php (for the upcoming Bioplastics Business breakfast at K’2016 Düsseldorf/Germany) and you will receive a 10% discount.

Bioplastics Simplified

BIOPLASTICS SIMPLIFIED: ATTRIBUTES OF BIOBASED AND BIODEGRADABLE PLASTICS

Bioplastics Simplified published by SPI the US plastics industry trade association is a useful and informative document for anyone interested in keeping up to date the with the latest developments in the bioplastics industry.

Download or read here

 

The European Commission’s latest circular economy proposal, presented on December 2, 2015, leaves room for more ambitious actions on bio-industries such as bioplastics, says European Bioplastics.

The proposal contains plans to tackle the challenge presented by the waste of energy and resources produced by the linear economy. The European Bioplastics association welcomes these efforts, and is looking forward to contributing to the forthcoming debate on how renewable and biodegradable materials can best fit into this vision.

In ‘Closing the loop – an EU action plan for the Circular Economy’ the Commission acknowledges that ‘bio-based materials present advantages due to their renewability, biodegradability and compostability’. “The proposal is an important step towards closing the carbon loop in Europe”, says François de Bie, Chairman of European Bioplastics.

Yet closing the loop, whilst urgently necessary, should be complemented by measures to boost the bio-economy. Biodegradable plastics contribute to proper organic waste collection and bio-based plastics help to minimise greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, durable bioplastics in particular have the potential to sequester bio-based carbon. If mechanically recycled, this benefit of carbon sequestration can be sustained throughout many life cycles, making a significant contribution to a circular economy. The carbon loop, in which biobased and biodegradable materials play a key role, needs to be recognised and supported within the EU’s legislative framework.

For this reason, bioplastics should be part of any new legislation on revised waste targets, as they contribute to multiplying end-of-life options, such as mechanical recycling, organic recycling and waste-to-‘bio’-energy. Furthermore, the material properties of bioplastics should be recognised within the context of ecodesign measures, given the significant environmental benefits they offer.

The Commission’s proposal to amend the Waste Framework Directive falls short of fully recognising the advantages of organic waste collection for Europe. Organic waste accounts for the largest fraction (30-45 percent) in municipal waste. Yet, today, only 25 percent of the 90 million tonnes of bio-waste in Europe is collected separately and recycled by composting and anaerobic digestion. With the right waste legislation in place, an additional 60 million tonnes of bio-waste could be recycled, which would result in the creation of 30,000 new jobs.(1)

Economic potential of bioplastic materials

Bioplastics are a large family of innovative plastic materials that are either bio-based or biodegradable, or both. The global market for bioplastics is predicted to grow by more than 350 percent in the mid-term.(2) The latest market data by European Bioplastics shows that the global bioplastics production capacity is set to increase from around 1.7 million tonnes in 2014 to approximately 7.8 million tonnes in 2019. Packaging remains the single largest field of application for bioplastics with almost 70 percent of the total bioplastics market. The data also reveals a significant increase in the uptake of bioplastics materials in many other sectors, including textiles, automotive, and consumer goods.

“Even though production will continue to grow steadily in the coming years, forecasts show that in 2019, more than 95 percent of bioplastics production capacities will be located outside of Europe. If EU Member States want to attract investment and jobs in this sector, they need to tackle the problem of limited economic and political support, which currently hampers the scale-up of production capacities and market penetration of bioplastic products in Europe. The right strategy and conditions are needed to reverse this trend and help to make full use of bioplastics’ environmental, economic and social potential in Europe”, says François de Bie.(KL)

(1) Data given by the European Compost Network (ECN) e.V. in a letter to the EU Commissioners Timmermans, Katainen, Vella and Canete, 19 November 2015.
(2) 2015 market data update of European Bioplastics in cooperation with IfBB – Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites (University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hannover, Germany) and nova-Institute (Hürth, Germany).

http://en.european-bioplastics.org

 Published 03.12.2015

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition Position Against Biodegradability Additives in Petroleum-Based Plastics

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) has released a formal position paper against biodegradability additives for petroleum-based plastics, which are marketed as enhancing the sustainability of plastic by rendering the material biodegradable. The SPC has evaluated the use of biodegradability additives for conventional petroleum-based plastics, and has found that these additives do not offer any sustainability advantage and they may actually result in more environmental harm.

The position paper lists the following reasons for the stance against these additives:

  • They don’t enable compostability, which is the meaningful indicator of a material’s ability to beneficially return nutrients to the environment.

  • They are designed to compromise the durability of plastic and the additive manufacturers have not yet demonstrated an absence of adverse effects on recycling.

  • The creation of a “litter friendly” material is a step in the wrong direction, particularly when the material may undergo extensive fragmentation and generation of micro-pollution before any biodegradation occurs.

  • The biodegradation of petroleum-based plastics releases fossil carbon into the atmosphere, creating harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
The report is available for free download here

According to a new report by Allied Market Research, titled, “World Bioplastics Market Opportunities and Forecast, 2014-2020″, the global market for bioplastics would reach $30.8 billion by 2020, registering a CAGR of 14.8% during 2015-2020. The rising environmental awareness among the consumers and substantial curiosity of packaging industries towards biodegradability are the key factors responsible for the increasing adoption of bioplastics in rigid packaging applications. The rigid plastic application would account for more than 40% of the market revenue by 2020.

Bioplastics are plastics derived from the renewable feedstocks such as corn, sugarcane and cellulose among others. Large availability of renewable feedstocks and eco-friendly nature of bioplastics boost its market across the globe. Furthermore, increasing adoption in new end user industries and favorable government policies for the use of eco-friendly and biodegradable products are some of the key factors that would drive the market growth. On the other hand, high production cost is likely to dampen the market growth during the forecast period.

The consumption of “drop-ins” bioplastics (Bio-PE, Bio-PET 30, Bio-PA and others) would continue to dominate the overall bioplastics market through to 2020, owing to its overall properties and wide applications similar to traditional plastics (PE, PET and PA among others). Bio-PET 30 would be the fastest growing segment in the non-biodegradable bioplastics market, as it delivers same performance as synthetic PET with regards to re-sealability, versatility, durability, appearance, weight and recyclability.

Key findings of the study

  • Rigid plastics would be the fastest growing application segment, at a CAGR of 31.8%, during the forecast period
  • Europe was the highest consumer, whereas, Asia Pacific was the largest producer of bioplastics in 2014. Asia Pacific would be the fastest growing consumer during the forecast period.
  • Bio-PET 30 segment is expected to have healthy volume growth, at 25.7% CAGR, during the forecast period.
  • Polyesters and starch blends segment collectively accounted for about one-third of the overall biodegradable bioplastic market in 2014.
  • PLA is projected to be the fastest growing segment in the overall biodegradable plastics market, in terms of revenue and volume.

North America and Europe collectively accounted for more than 60% of the market, in 2014 and are expected to maintain their lead throughout the forecast period. European policy support for bioplastic manufacturers and increasing health awareness among consumers are the key factors responsible for the market growth within this region. However, Asia Pacific is projected to be the most lucrative market owing to availability of huge renewable feedstocks coupled with increasing investment made by the global bioplastics players.

The leading players in the market are adopting collaboration, partnership and expansion as the key developmental strategies. The prominent players profiled in this report include Novamont SPA, Metabolix Inc., BASF SE, Natureworks LLC, Corbion Purac, Braskem, Cardia Bioplastics, Biome Technolgies Plc, FKuR Kunststoff GmbH and Innovia Films.

While growing ecological awareness and changing consumer demands are leading to a boom in the research and development of more sustainable products with a reduced environmental footprint such as bioplastics, there are a few persistent myths and misconceptions that need to be set straight once and for all. Like most myths, they are inspired by reality, but are mixing up fact and fiction and, in this case, are ultimately unhelpful to a budding industry that is solidly progressing toward a resource-efficient and sustainable future.

Misconception 1: All bioplastics are biodegradable/compostable

It is an easy mistake to make, but not all bioplastics are biodegradable. Quite the contrary, the main feature of many bioplastics is the fact that they are made from renewable resources, biomass. Most of these biobased materials are durable commodity plastics such as bio-PE or bio-PET with the same properties as their conventional counterparts. Neither PE nor PET is biodegradable, which demonstrates that the feedstock basis of a material has nothing to do with its characteristic to biodegrade. Biodegradability is an inherent feature of a material and its chemical structure. Bioplastics are a diverse family of materials with different properties. There are three main groups: Biobased, non-biodegradable materials such as PE, PET or polyamides; biobased and biodegradable materials such as PLA, PHA, and starch blends; and fossil-based, biodegradable materials such as PBAT which are mainly used as a blend for biobased and biodegradable plastics. Biodegradability is an additional feature that adds value for specific applications, such as biowaste bags or food packaging. It is not, however, the single defining attribute of bioplastics.

Misconception 2: Biodegradability is the same as compostability

Strictly speaking, biodegradation is but a collective term for a natural chemical process in which materials are transformed into natural substances such as water, carbon and biomass with the help of microorganisms. Biodegradation can occur in many different environments (soil, marine environment, composting and fermentation facilities, etc.) and under varying conditions (absence or presence of oxygen, bacteria or fungi) and at different levels of influencing factors, such as temperature, humidity and timeframe. In order to be able to make any substantial claim on the biodegradability of a material or product, all these different factors need to be taken into consideration. Resorting to acknowledged standards, which are more than a mere testing method and provide clearly defined pass/fail criteria, is the most commonly accepted way of doing so.

The European Standard for industrial compostability, EN 13432, for instance, defines the minimum requirements that materials have to meet in order to be processed in industrial composting plants (timeframe, temperature, humidity, etc.). If these requirements are not met or can’t be proven, any reference to the standard or claims about compostability of the product would be considered greenwashing.

Wherever there’s a successful innovation, you will find “free riders” attempting to piggyback on the good reputation of products that adhere to accepted standards, without fulfilling the latter. This hampers the market development for environmentally responsible, standard-adhering products and potentially poses a threat to the environment. European Bioplastics, the European association of the bioplastics industry, has long been warning against the malpractice of producers of additive-mediated plastics, including oxo-degradable plastics, falsely claiming that their materials (bio)degrade. These claims have not been scientifically proven and do not comply with any of the acknowledged standards for biodegradability and industrial composting (ASTM D6400 or EN 13432). Furthermore, in a recently published peer reviewed publication, scientists at Michigan State University’s School of Packaging and the MSU’s Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering department concluded that “no evidence was found that these [degradable] additives promote and/or enhance biodegradation of PE or PET polymers.”

Yet, the harm has been done. In a recent post published on the PlasticsToday blog, the editor has fallen into the same trap, offering a company called ENSO, a degradable additive supplier, as an example of what she calls “reasonable alternatives” to compostable products. What she doesn’t mention is that California’s Attorney General filed a first-of-its-kind “greenwashing” lawsuit against ENSO, over alleged false and misleading marketing claims on their degradable additives. Products based on the ENSO additives have apparently since disappeared from the shelves. This case demonstrates that the key to the success of emerging biotechnologies are acknowledged standards and stricter guidelines on how to communicate these claims in order to allow for informed consumer choices.

On the other hand, the value proposition for compostable plastics is well recognized in the market and at the municipal level. Compostable products are a key tool in the zero waste programs successfully implemented by major municipalities such as Seattle and San Francisco. In fact “the ASTM Standard Specification for Compostable Plastics D6400” is explicitly called out in California law (SB-567). The same law also prohibits “the sale of plastic packaging and plastic products that are labelled with the terms biodegradable, degradable or decomposable,” which has found bioplastics producers and the recycling industry unanimously in strong support, because it precisely eliminates the sort of false and misleading marketing claims that can otherwise occur.

Misconception 3: Compostable plastics are the solution to landfills and littering

Biodegradable materials are often wrongly presented as a way to help minimize the amount of waste in countries that have no existing waste management infrastructure. Yet, biodegradable plastics should not and cannot be considered a solution to the problem of littering and landfilling. In fact, littering must never be promoted or accepted for any kind of waste. Instead, the issue needs to be addressed by educative and informative measures to raise awareness for proper and controlled ways of management, disposal and (organic) recycling.

Municipalities are now deeply engaged with the complexities of handling their solid waste streams. Bioplastics are suitable for a broad range of end-of-life options, including reuse, mechanical or organic recycling, and energy recovery. The use of compostable plastics makes separate biowaste collection a more valuable option and helps divert more organic waste from recycling streams or from landfills and increases the volume of valuable biomass (compost). Cities like Seattle and San Francisco in the United States and entire countries like the Netherlands recognize and capitalize on the role of certified compostable products in that endeavor. Misleading claims about “false benefits” of biodegradability only distract from what we as a society really need to be focusing on: Getting better at diverting valuable material streams away from landfills.

Hasso von Pogrell is Managing Director of European Bioplastics.

 

Biodegradable fruit and vegie bags mandatory in France

France has introduced a law to make bio-based, biodegradable fruit and vegetable bags mandatory. Introduced as part of a wide-ranging set of reforms on energy transition and green growth, bioplastic lightweight bags for fruits and vegetables, as well as some other types of packaging, will need to be bio-based and compostable in home composting from 1 January 2017.

The French law has also banned oxo-fragmentable plastics, which are durable, fossil-based plastics with artificial additives, that cause the plastic to fragment into micro-particles. They do not meet the European norms for compostability and the new law prohibits the production, distribution, sale, provision and utilisation of packaging or bags made partially or completely from oxo-fragmentable plastics. The move was welcomed by bioplastics industry bodies. “These provisions represent an important step for the French bioplastics industry, which has invested more than 40 million euros in the last 15 years,” said Christophe Doukhi-de Boissoudy, president of French association Club Bio-plastiques. “France has taken a step forward to the responsible consumption of plastic materials and to treating waste as a valuable resource. Bioplastic materials will contribute their share to its environmentally responsible economic growth,” said François de Bie, chairman of the board of European Bioplastics.

www.foodprocessing.com.au

This very useful Bioplastics glossary has been provided by European Bioplastics Magazine.

Bioplastics (as defined by European Bioplastics e.V.) is a term used to define two different kinds of plastics:

a. Plastics based on renewable resources (the focus is the origin of the raw material used). These can be biodegradable or not.

b.  Biodegradable and compostable plastics according to EN13432 or similar standards (the focus is the compostability of the final product; biodegradable and compostable plastics can be based on renewable (biobased) and/or non-renewable (fossil) resources).

Bioplastics may be

– based on renewable resources and biodegradable

– based on renewable resources but not be biodegradable

– based on fossil resources and biodegradable

For the full glossary of terms click here 

www.bioplasticsmagazine.com/bioplasticsmagazine-wAssets/docs/Glossary.pdf

Packaging has an important role to play in sustainability as it functions to protect and reduce waste of products and raw materials as they move through the supply chains. To achieve this, the packaging must be holistically designed with both the product and its end use in mind so that the overall environmental performance is optimised. The packaging must also be: made from responsibly sourced materials; manufactured using energy-efficient production technologies; recoverable after use; sourced, manufactured, transported and recycled using renewable or efficient sources of energy.

When considering packaging and its sustainability, the packaging itself can’t be considered in isolation. Claude D’Amico, market development manager of Innovia, says sustainability has to apply to the product together with the packaging.

“New products, including their packaging, need to be planned with the full consideration of sustainability, starting with the raw materials, through to the manufacturing and usage efficiency as assessed by life cycle analysis, including the planned recovery of all resources embedded in the unused or waste portions of the product and its packaging,” he says.

Packaging material and its contribution to sustainability

Within the restricted view of the packaging itself, D’Amico says we are starting to see more emphasis on overall sustainability rather than just end-of-life options for the packaging. “Issues such as renewable resources utilised sustainably and the avoidance of GMO [genetically modified organisms] are gaining prominence,” he says.

Packaging materials, such as bioplastics made with a growing percentage of renewable resource, are experiencing a positive growth trend. According to European Bioplastics reports, global bioplastics production capacities are predicted to grow by more than 400% by 2018, with biobased, non-biodegradable plastics – such as biobased PE and biobased PET – gaining the most growth.

Steve Davies, director of corporate communications and public affairs, NatureWorks, says that tremendous strides made in the development of bioplastics and the applications in which they are used is an important macro trend in the ‘mainstreaming’ of bioplastics. He says: “Once regarded as ‘new-to-the-world’ materials, bioplastics are now entering their second decade of commercial-scale, world-class production, and with the ‘remaking’ of some mature plastic types in biobased variants – bio PET, for example – bioplastics and plastics have in a sense converged.

“Bioplastics are increasingly seen simply as plastics with additional environmental and end-of-life attributes. The functional properties and performance of the materials are discussed first and then, as appropriate, the ‘bio’ properties where they are relevant.

“This is a sea change from where the industry was two or three years ago,” says Davies.

D’Amico says: “Materials such as bio-derived PE and PET are growing faster than those that are compostable.” He says the ‘ideal’ combination is biobased and compostable, and there are materials available from Innovia that achieve this rare combination.

D’Amico says what’s also on trend is “some sort of sustainability verification, be it origin certification – such as FSC or PEFC chain of custody certification, or other forms – such as measuring and reporting the percentage of renewable carbon content”.

“Certifications that include considerations of social issues – such as avoidance of competition with food crops – is also of interest, though these are not as common for annually harvested crops.

“The objective is not sustainable packaging, but sustainable living on earth,” says D’Amico.

When asked about how we can ensure that raw materials are responsibly grown, Davies says what is critical is that the supply chain take advantage of credible third-party certification.

“In 2012, for example, Danone in Germany wanted to demonstrate and verify the sustainability of Ingeo feedstock production based on sustainable agricultural practice for its new yoghurt cup slated to replace traditional polystyrene packaging. Danone became the first company to achieve environmental sourcing certification from both the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) Association and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP).”

D’Amico says: “Invariably, all raw materials need to either be grown sustainably or, if they need to be from a finite resource, it needs to be recycled completely and endlessly. And all this whilst satisfying the nutritional needs of the growing world population.

“In short, ensuring sustainability implies absolutely no waste – not for packaging, not for any other aspect of life’s various needs. What we now consider waste of any description needs to be reclassified as input for other necessary processes.

“Are we there yet? No, not by a long shot, but that needs to be our target.”

Re-usability or repurposing

There is not enough being done in the area of re-usability and repurposing of packaging, according to D’Amico. He says: “More needs to be done to minimise the wasting of this valuable resource. Recycling by melting and reshaping is fantastic for rigid containers made of PET or HDPE. Some flexible packaging is suitable for similar treatment via the Red Group initiative, though this more often than not is downcycled into park benches. Not yet up to structural timber replacement.

“Incineration for energy recovery may be an option for plastics and packaging that don’t suit the above techniques, and incineration of plastics derived from bio sources is even more attractive as the CO2released is from within our time, not fossil CO2. Composting of putrefiable waste and food-contaminated packaging is not happening enough, nor is there a prevalence of the very efficient in vessel anaerobic digestion.”

Davies says there is a strong trend towards organics diversion from landfill, with legislation changes (such as landfill bans) occurring in some geographies. “This is leading to a strong interest (eg, by restaurants, entertainment and sports venues) in tools such as compostable food serviceware that facilitate and simplify organics diversion,” he says.

Standards and labelling

In the global market today there are many plastics which are claimed to be biodegradable, compostable, oxo-degradable or oxo-biodegradable. But what do these terms mean in reality?

Rowan Williams, president of the Australasian Bioplastics Association, recently discussed this with Professor Ramani Narayan, Michigan State University Distinguished Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science in the United States, a world-renowned expert in the field of bioplastics and plastics generally. An extract from a precis from Professor Narayan’s discussion explains: “Claims of degradable, partially biodegradable or eventually biodegradable are not acceptable. It has been shown that these degraded fragments absorb toxins present in the environment, concentrating them and transporting them up the food chain.

“Therefore, verifiable scientifically valid evidence from an approved third-party laboratory is needed to document complete biodegradability in a defined disposal system, in a short time period using the specified international standards.”

Davies says there are standards in place in Australia, for example, for industrial composting (AS4736-2006) and home composting (AS 5810-2010), and a verified logo scheme is in place (overseen by the Australasian Bioplastics Association) to ensure that claims cannot be made without proper verification.

“By taking a more stringent approach on weeding out unsubstantiated claims, governmental agencies such as the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) will help raise the overall level of interest in certifications. This would have a positive effect on the brands and improve industry practices overall, and on consumers who depend on these logos and standards to make informed decisions,” says Davies.

D’Amico says: “As our appreciation of the value imbedded in our organic waste is realised, we will divert that waste to more efficient and immediate recovery processes such as composting or anaerobic digestion. As the infrastructure for processing organic waste is introduced, so can the introduction of appropriate labelling for packaging begin. It needs to be an instruction, not a symbol, for example: “Please place this plastic wrap with your compostables in the clearly marked organic waste collection bag.”

D’Amico also says the design guides in the Australian Packaging Covenant (APC), origin certification such as FSC for wood-based products, ISCC+ for annually harvested crops, fair trade practices, fair produce prices regulations and many other initiatives are all gaining prominence, and collectively they assist with sustainable living on earth.

These are just some of the trends and approaches related to packaging and sustainability. From raw material acquisition to final disposal, applying the principles of sustainability – environmental, economic and social aspects – to the full life cycle of packaging, not just end of life, is clearly an important trend.

All the latest packaging and processing equipment will be on display at AUSPACK 2015, which is being held from 24-27 March at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre. The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) and the Australian Packaging & Processing Machinery Association (APPMA) will also be holding the 2015 National Technical Forums as part of Packaging & Processing Week at the event. For further information, visit www.auspack.com.au/index.php/packaging-week/.

By Sustainability Matters Staff
Tuesday, 20 January, 2015

Sustainability Matters Article Feb_March 2015