AORA is thrilled to launch the program for the AORA 2021 Annual Conference – Pathways to Sustainable Growth, taking place from 15 – 17 June at the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

The Conference Program Committee have gathered a high calibre group of local and international experts who will be sharing their experiences, projects and practical information, including:

  • Jeff Lowenfels, Author – The Teaming Series Books on Organic Growing (USA), Dr Jeff Baldock, Soil Scientist and Aurel Lübke, Compost Systems (Austria)
  • Hon Trevor Evans MP, Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management to open the conference Wed 16 June.
  • Poster Presentations featuring the case studies and the latest industry research within the Trade Exhibition
  • Sessions looking at carbon, international practices, collection systems, food and garden organics, engagement, and application of recycled organics in agriculture to name just a few.
  • Live equipment demonstrations – see grinders, screens, turners and other equipment in operation, compare models and meet with suppliers all in the one place
  • Networking – connect with industry colleagues during the conference and at the Networking Event and Gala Dinner

Click here to view the Program

Grant gives BioPak go-ahead for composting infrastructure expansion

 

The Australian Government has announced $10.5 million in grants to support waste recovery in Australia, with 11 successful applicants to be awarded funding as part of the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund.

Grant winner BioPak will use the funding to develop and support its new nationwide program, The Compost Network — an initiative set to bring industry participants together to collaboratively transform compostable packaging and food waste into nutrient-rich soil for thousands of businesses across the country.

“We are excited to join forces with businesses in the packaging, foodservice and waste industry to help grow Australian organic recycling capabilities and instigate widespread change,” BioPak founder Richard Fine said.

“It is time to collaborate in order to overcome the challenges and harness the value and benefits that compostable packaging can provide.

“Compostable packaging is a proven, cost-effective solution to enable the recovery and recycling of food and packaging waste generated by the foodservice industry. Only through collaboration can we transform compostable materials from a niche initiative to a core pillar of a circular and sustainable economy, and we believe The Compost Network can help achieve this vision.”

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans said that the dial is shifting in Australia as people change their mindset about waste and look towards a more circular economy.

“BioPak’s new product stewardship scheme for organic waste and compostable packaging will reduce waste going to landfill, lift recycling rates and help foodservice businesses and consumers make a practical, positive difference for the environment,” Evans said.

An alarming statistic reveals that 8% of greenhouse gases are created by food waste. The foodservice industry in Australia contributes nearly 900,000 tonnes of organic waste, including an estimated 17 billion individual single-use foodservice disposables, which translates to more than 130,000 tonnes of packaging waste that could be recovered and diverted from landfills through organic recycling.

“We are calling on the support from the foodservice and foodservice packaging industry to take ownership and responsibility to ensure that their products are recovered and recycled,” Fine added.

BioPak launched Australia’s first compost collection service in 2018. The Compost Network is an evolution of this program, opening the platform to all participants in the industry in order to maximise the positive environmental impact. The goal is to transform this service into an industry-led program where foodservice businesses can collectively support the development of organic recycling in Australia.

Bioplastics continue to become mainstream as the global bioplastics market is set to grow by 36 percent over the next 5 years

Source: European Bioplastics

Berlin, 2 December 2020 – The results of the European Bioplastics’ (EUBP) annual market data update, presented today at the 15th EUBP Conference, confirm the continued dynamic growth of the global bioplastics industry. “Our industry has successfully weathered the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. And the outlook for bioplastics is also promising as the global market is predicted to grow by 36 percent over the next 5 years”, says François de Bie, Chairman of European Bioplastics.

The global bioplastics production capacity is set to increase from around 2.1 million tonnes in 2020 to 2.8 million tonnes in 2025. Innovative biopolymers, such as bio-based PP (polypropylene) and especially PHAs (polyhydroxyalkanoates) continue to drive this growth. Since PHAs entered the market, the share of this important polymer family continued to grow. Production capacities are set to increase successfully almost sevenfold in the next 5 years. The production of polylactic acid (PLA) will also continue to grow due to new investments in PLA production sites in China, the US, and in Europe. Currently, biodegradable plastics account for almost 60 percent of the global bioplastics production capacities. PHA and PLA are bio-based, biodegradable, and feature a wide array of physical and mechanical properties.

Production capacities of bio-based PP are set to more than triple by 2025. This is due to the widespread application of PP in a wide range of sectors. PP is a very versatile material that features excellent barrier properties and is one of the most widespread commodity plastics. A bio-based version of this olefine has been awaited for many years. Bio-based, non-biodegradable plastics, including the drop-in solutions bio-based PE and bio-based PET (polyethylene terephthalate), as well as bio-based PA (polyamides), currently make up for 40 percent (0.8 million tonnes) of the global bioplastics production capacities. For bio-based PE new capacities are planned to come on-line in Europe and South America over the coming years. In contrast, bio-based PET will contribute only a small share to the overall capacities. Intentions to increase production capacities have not been realised at nearly the rate predicted in previous years. Instead, the focus has shifted to the development of PEF (polyethylene furanoate), a new polymer that is expected to enter the market in 2023. PEF is comparable to PET but is fully bio-based and furthermore features superior barrier properties, making it an ideal material for beverage bottles.

Packaging remains the largest field of application for bioplastics with almost 47 percent (0.99 million tonnes) of the total bioplastics market in 2020. The data also confirms that bioplastics materials are already being used in many other sectors, and the portfolio of application continues to diversify. Segments, such as consumer goods or agriculture and horticulture products, continue to increase their relative share.

With a view to regional capacity development, Asia remains a major production hub with over 46 percent of bioplastics currently being produced there. Presently, one fourth of the production capacity is located in Europe. This share is predicted to grow to up to 28 percent by 2025. “Recently, significant investments have been announced by our industry, also in the heart of the European Union. Europe is set to become a key producer of bioplastics. The material will play an important role in achieving a circular economy. The ‘local for local’ production will accelerate the adoption of bioplastics in the European market”, says Hasso von Pogrell, Managing Director of European Bioplastics.

The land used to grow the renewable feedstock for the production of bioplastics is estimated to be 0.7 million hectares in 2020 and continues to account for 0.015 percent of the global agricultural area of 4.7 billion hectares. Despite the market growth predicted in the next five years, the land use share for bioplastics will only slightly increase to 0.02 percent. „We do not weary of emphasising that there is no competition between renewable feedstock for food and feed, and the use for bioplastics” says von Pogrell, “94 percent of all arable land is used for pasture, feed and food.”

The market data update 2020 has been compiled in cooperation with the nova-Institute (Hürth, Germany). The data for the global production capacities of bioplastics is based on the market study “Bio-based Building Blocks and Polymers” by nova-Institute (2020). For more information on the study and full market data report, please go to www.bio-based.eu/markets

 

Click here to read the European Bioplastics Press Release

The manufacturing upgrades increase NatureWorks’s responsiveness to rapidly evolving market dynamics and high demand for Ingeo™️ (PLA) biomaterials.

MINNETONKA, Minn., September 22, 2020 – NatureWorks, the world’s leading manufacturer of low-carbon PLA biomaterials, today announced a slate of manufacturing technology projects, including lactide monomer purification efficiency, that will increase the availability of the full Ingeo™️ (PLA) biomaterials portfolio by 10 percent. Installation is currently underway at NatureWorks’s facility in Blair, Nebraska, the world’s first and largest commercial-scale PLA manufacturing plant. The projects will be completed by the end of 2021.

The expanded availability will support growth in markets that demand sustainable, low-carbon materials and require the high-performance attributes that Ingeo is uniquely suited to deliver. These markets include 3D printing and nonwoven hygiene masks as well as compostable coffee capsules, teabags, and coated-paper food serviceware.

“The market continues to rapidly evolve due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the undiminished demand for sustainable, bio-based alternatives to petrochemical-based plastics,” said Rich Altice, President & CEO of NatureWorks. “For NatureWorks to satisfy this unprecedented demand, this purification technology is one of many additional capital improvements we are actively working on at our facility in Blair. At the same time, we continue to pursue a potential future second manufacturing site outside the U.S. to serve our growing international markets.”

Ingeo polylactic acid is made in a multi-step process that begins with using annually renewable plants to turn greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into long-chain sugar molecules. Dextrose derived from the plant sugar molecules, is fermented into lactic acid that then undergoes a proprietary two-step process to transform it into lactide, the monomer for Ingeo polylactic acid polymer.

Commitment to Sustainable Agriculture

The additional annually renewable feedstock sourced to supply the new manufacturing projects will become certified by the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification System (ISCC) to the ISCC PLUS standard of best practices in agricultural production by 2025.

As part of NatureWorks’s participation in the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment and commitment to sustainable agriculture, they announced a new initiative in 2019 to ensure that by 2020 100 percent of the agricultural feedstock used for Ingeo made at their Blair, Nebraska production site will be certified as environmentally and socially sustainable by the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification System (ISCC). By 2025, NatureWorks also committed that 100 percent of new feedstocks for additional manufacturing capacity will be certified as sustainably and responsibly managed via an independent third-party administered program.

NatureWorks was the first biopolymer manufacturer to become certified to the new ISCC PLUS standard in 2012, and currently has more than 60 percent of its agricultural feedstock certified.

For more information about NatureWorks and Ingeo, visit www.natureworksllc.com. Follow NatureWorks on Twitter (@natureworks) for the latest updates.

About NatureWorks

NatureWorks is an advanced materials company offering a broad portfolio of renewably sourced polymers and chemicals. With performance and economics that compete with oil-based materials, naturally advanced Ingeo™ biomaterials are valued for their unique functional properties and used in products from coffee capsules and appliances to tea bags and 3D printing filament. NatureWorks is jointly owned by Thailand’s largest ASEAN leading integrated petrochemical and refining company, PTT Global Chemical, and Cargill, which provides food, agriculture, financial and industrial products and services to the world. For more information visit natureworksllc.com or follow NatureWorks on Twitter at @natureworks.

On 10th September, Packaging Europe, the leading intelligence resource for European packaging professionals, presented the webinar: What’s the role of bioplastics in a sustainable packaging future?

Tim Sykes, Brand Director at Packaging Europe, moderated a panel of three experts comprising Hasso Von Pogrell, Managing Director at EUBP, Gary Tee, UK Sales Director at TIPA, and Andy Sweetman, Sales & Marketing Manager at Futamura.

The panelists discussed the environmental implications of bioplastics, along with opportunities and roadblocks around further adoptions of bioplastic packaging applications, and answered some questions from the audience.

PHOTO CREDIT: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Pawarun

 

Report predicts bioplastics growth

With multiple environmental benefits, bioplastics could be vital in helping solve the world’s plastic problem.

About eight million pieces of plastic make their way into the world’s oceans each day, representing a global-scale pollution problem that is not going anywhere without serious intervention.

Bioplastics — plastics produced from biomass feedstocks — could help solve the world’s plastics problem but are struggling to wrestle market share away from conventional plastics. Bioplastics such as polylactic acid, polyhydroxyalkanoates and polybutyl succinate are biodegradable and can have similar, if not identical, functionalities to their fossil-based counterparts. So why aren’t they being widely adopted? An IDTechEx report explores the factors helping and hindering the adoption of bioplastics.

Cost of production

The IDTechEx report — ‘Bioplastics 2020–2025’ — identifies several barriers to more widespread adoption of bioplastics, the major issue being that they are still more expensive to produce than petrochemically derived plastics. Despite a majority of consumers saying they want brands that are sustainable, few are actually willing to pay extra for it, with willingness to pay falling sharply for products with a Green Premium over 5%.

Oil prices fell in 2014 and have stayed low since then, making it even harder for bioplastics to compete on price. As a finite resource, oil prices cannot remain this low forever, but until prices rise bioplastics producers will have to work hard to cut production costs.

The challenge of upscaling

Despite demonstrating proof of concepts in an academic setting, the transition to industrial-scale production is far from straightforward and many companies are reported to have gone bankrupt trying to make the jump. A conservative approach to production methods does not work well with the complexity of high-volume fermentation. Furthermore, there is a lack of capital investment from venture capitalists and governments to help academic innovators and early-stage startups expand production.

Policy change as a facilitator

Despite the barriers to the widespread adoption of bioplastics, governments are increasingly introducing policy changes to help overcome the challenges detailed above. In 2018 the EU updated its Bioeconomy Strategy, making funding available for circular economy projects, and in 2019 the San Francisco Bay Area introduced a range of restrictions on single-use plastics.

Bioplastics companies are also increasingly employing innovative technical approaches to reduce costs, including the use of synthetic biology.

The Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) is the peak industry body for manufacturers, converters and distributors of bioplastic products and materials throughout Australia and New Zealand. Dedicated to promoting plastics that are biodegradable, compostable and based on renewable resources, the ABA administers a voluntary verification scheme for biodegradable plastics.

“The growth of the market for sustainable resins derived from renewable resources is driven by recognition that fossil fuel resources are finite and will one day run out,” the ABA said.

“Change is required and this is recognised by business and governments around the world who are encouraging recycling, composting of organic waste, and use of sustainable and renewable materials.”

First posted on Sustainability Matters on 02/04/20 Read more here

 

 

If you take one of Ellen Burns’ energy bars, eat it and throw the wrapper in the compost bin, 13 weeks later you will find nothing but dirt.

As Australia stares down a recycling crisis that threatens the viability of a multi-billion dollar industry and potentially thousands of jobs, some small businesses like Ms Burns’ have scrambled to find new types of packaging that have no need for a yellow kerbside bin.

The Ballarat-based entrepreneur said her business is one of only three in Australia that uses home-compostable packaging, which is plant-based and imported from the United Kingdom. “When I started running my own business it kind of seemed contradictory because I was creating all this plastic waste and putting that out into the world,” Ms Burns said.

“It’s a bit more noticeable when you have literally boxes of plastic pouches rather than as a consumer you might only be using one a day or a couple of plastic packages a day.”

While there has been considerable improvement to public awareness of Australia’s waste woes, home-compostable packaging is only one step in a much longer journey towards fixing the recycling industry’s systematic flaws.

How does home-compostable packaging work?

The bioplastic packaging that Ellen Burns uses is accredited by the Australasian Bioplastics Association [ABA] and made from cellulose derived from plants like eucalyptus and sugarcane. Member of the ABA’s Technical Committee, Warwick Hall, said testing of compostable packaging is undertaken in conjunction with German firm DIN CERTCO to ensure there are no toxic residues.

“The product breaks down into carbon dioxide, water and carbon biomass just the same as a tomato or an orange,” he said.

But Mr Hall said the wrapping may not biodegrade properly alongside other forms of general waste and that the ideal conditions of a compost bin are needed. “It needs to be composted because landfill conditions vary so much that a material may or may not biodegrade under those conditions.

“Others are dry landfills where no oxygen can get in there and nothing biodegrades or it takes an awfully long time.”

“We’ve all read reports about landfill being dug up and people finding vegetable matter and old newspapers,” he said.

Is home-compostable packaging economically viable?

Over the past three years Ellen Burns has spent her entire life savings on setting up her business and establishing the new compostable packaging. “Between plastic and this, it’s probably maybe 10 times more expensive,” she said. “I understand why the bigger businesses don’t do it, because for them to switch all their products over it would actually be a huge amount of money.” Ms Burns primarily stocks cafes and health food stores and said there is a greater appetite for environmentally friendly products among her target market.


“This was my first big order of custom packaging, so for me it always going to be a huge step up anyway,” she said.

“So I thought it was worth investing in what my beliefs are and what my brand stands for, rather than try to minimise the cost.”

But Ms Burns said due to the relatively small size of her business and the lower cost of purchasing packaging in bulk orders, the price increase passed on to consumers is minimal. “In terms of packaging per wrapper, you’re talking probably 10 to 15 cents difference per bar.”

 

PHOTO: Photos of Ellen Burns’ packaging taken five weeks after they were placed in a compost bin. (Supplied: Ellen Burns)

Soft plastic problems present an opportunity for home compost

Unless placed in dedicated recycling bins found at most supermarkets, traditional plastic food packaging presents a particular problem, with only a handful of regional councils able to process them from kerbside recycling bins.

Bioplastics are derived from renewable substances, but can include a broad range of products such as biodegradable starch blends, polyesters or regenerable cellulose — each with varying environmental impacts.The 2016-17 Australian Plastics Recycling Survey stated that the amount of biodegradable plastic being composted is unknown but estimated that less than 100 tonnes was undertaken nationally. That is compared to 3,513,100 tonnes of plastic consumed in the same year, of which 11.8 per cent was recycled.

A June 2018 report released by the Senate Environment and Communications Reference Committee described Australia’s recycling system as being in ‘grave danger’ due to China’s ban on the import of some recyclables, along with underinvestment in the domestic industry. The report points to the “enormity of problems created by plastics” with many municipal recycling systems unable to sort food wrappers from other harder plastics including bottles and containers.

What does the future hold for bioplastics?

In April the Federal and State Governments agreed that all Australian packaging should be recyclable, combustible or compostable by 2025 — a decision Warwick Hall said provides momentum to the burgeoning bioplastics industry.

 

“Our conventional thinking for recycling is, we take it away and we melt or we crush it up and generally just physically recycle it into another form,” he said.

“In this case it’s the same concept, but just organic rather than conventional recycling … it’s not intended to replace conventional recycling, it’s another means.”

While there are industrial composting options available already, Mr Hall said the ultimate success of compostable packaging will depend on the willingness of consumers to change their waste and recycling habits.

“Petrochemical plastics are pumped out by the hundreds of thousands of tonnes and that gives you efficiencies whereas bioplastics are made in smaller quantities and therefore you don’t get those same efficiencies,” he said.

“We wouldn’t think that all packaging will become compostable and certainly not the majority of packaging will become compostable but it is an option available.”

PHOTO: Composting has become more frequently used among Australian households but whether this will extend to food packaging remains to be seen. (Flickr: Nic McFee)

First posted on ABC News on 27/11/18 Read more here

 

 

Biodegradation Of Synthetic Polymers In Soils: Tracking carbon into CO2 and microbial biomass

Plastic materials are widely used in agricultural applications to achieve food security for the growing world population.  Thin mulch films made of polyethylene are used in agriculture in numerous countries, where they cause extensive soil contamination. The use of biodegradable instead of nonbiodegradable polymers in single-use agricultural applications, including plastic mulching, promises to reduce plastic accumulation in the environment.

A study by researchers at ETH Zurich and Eawag have now identified an alternative: films made of the polymer PBAT biodegrade in soils. Zumstein et al Biodegradation_of_synthetic_polymers_in_soils_Trac

Our world is drowning in a flood of plastic. Eight million tons of plastic end up in the oceans every year. Agricultural soils are also threatened by plastic pollution. Farmers around the world apply enormous amounts of polyethylene (PE) mulch films onto soils to combat weeds, increase soil temperature and keep the soil moist, thereby increasing overall crop yields.

After harvest, it often is impossible for farmers to re-collect the entire films, particularly when films are only a few micrometers thin. Film debris then makes its way into the soil and accumulates in the soil over time, because PE does not biodegrade. Film residues in soils decrease soil fertility, interfere with water transport and diminish crop growth.

Soil microbes mineralise films composed of alternative polymer

Researchers at ETH Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) have now shown in an interdisciplinary study that there is reason to be hopeful. In their recent study, they demonstrate that soil microbes degrade films composed of the alternative polymer poly(butylene adipate-co-terephthalate) (PBAT). Their work has just been published in the journal Science Advances.

In the research project coordinated by Michael Sander, Kristopher McNeill and Hans-Peter Kohler, former ETH doctoral student Michael Zumstein succeeded in demonstrating that soil microorganisms metabolically utilised the carbon in the PBAT polymer both for energy production and also to build up microbial biomass.

Video: ETH Zurich

“This research directly demonstrates, for the first time, that soil microorganisms mineralise PBAT films in soils and transfer carbon from the polymer into their biomass,” says Michael Sander, Senior Scientist in the Environmental Chemistry Group in the Department of Environmental Systems Science at ETH Zurich.

Like PE, PBAT is a petroleum-based polymer that is used to make various products, including mulch films. Because PBAT was already classified as biodegradable in compost, the ETH and Eawag researchers aimed at assessing whether PBAT also biodegrades in agricultural soils. By comparison, PE does not biodegrade in compost or in soil.

Labelling of polymer with carbon-13

In their experiments, the researchers used PBAT material that was custom-synthesised from monomers to contain a defined amount of the stable carbon-13 isotope. This isotope label enabled the scientists to track the polymer-derived carbon along different biodegradation pathways in soil.

Upon biodegrading PBAT, the soil microorganisms liberated carbon-13 from the polymer.

Using isotope-sensitive analytical equipment, the researchers found that the carbon-13 from PBAT was not only converted into carbon dioxide (CO2) as a result of microbial respiration but also incorporated into the biomass of microorganisms colonizing the polymer surface.

True biodegradation

“The beauty of our study is that we used stable isotopes to precisely track PBAT-derived carbon along different biodegradation pathways of the polymer in the soil,” says Michael Zumstein.

The researchers are the first to successfully demonstrate – with high scientific rigor – that a plastic material is effectively biodegraded in soils.

Because not all materials that were labelled “biodegradable” in the past really fulfilled the necessary criteria. “By definition biodegradation demands that microbes metabolically use all carbon in the polymer chains for energy production and biomass formation – as we now demonstrated for PBAT,” says Hans-Peter Kohler, environmental microbiologist at Eawag.

The definition highlights that biodegradable plastics fundamentally differ from those that merely disintegrate into tiny plastic particles, for instance after exposure of the plastic to sunlight, but that do not mineralise. “Many plastic materials simply crumble into tiny fragments that persist in the environment as microplastics – even if this plastic is invisible to the naked eye,” Kohler says.

 

To investigate biodegradation of PBAT mulch films in soil, an ETH doctoral student fill incubation bottles with soils containing pieces of the mulch films.

Fungal hyphae colonize the PBAT film surfaces and use the PBAT carbon in their metabolism.

The soils containing the pieces of mulch films are incubated in a temperature-controlled chamber. Microbes that biodegrade the films emit CO2, which is continuously analysed.

Bacteria join the fungi during biodegradation. (Electron microscopy images: ETH Zurich / Environmental Chemistry Group)
In their experiment, the researchers placed 60 grams of soil into glass bottles each with a volume of 0.1 litre and subsequently inserted the PBAT films on a solid support into the soil.

After six weeks of incubation, the scientists assessed the extent to which soil microorganisms had colonised the PBAT surfaces. They further quantified the amount of CO2 that was formed in the incubation bottles and how much of the carbon-13 isotope the CO2 contained. Finally, to directly demonstrate the incorporation of carbon from the polymer in the biomass of microorganisms on the polymer surfaces, they collaborated with researchers from the University of Vienna.

At this stage, the researchers cannot yet say with certainty over which timeframe PBAT degrades in soils in the natural environment given that they conducted their experiments in the lab, not in the field. Longer-term studies in different soils and under various conditions in the field are now needed to assess the biodegradation of PBAT films under real environmental conditions.

Too early for an all-clear

“Unfortunately, there is no reason to cheer as of yet: we’re still far from resolving the global environmental problem of plastic pollution,” says Sander, “but we’ve taken a very important first step in the direction of plastic biodegradability in soil.”

At the same time, he cautions against unrealistic expectations for biodegrading plastics in the environment: “As we have demonstrated, there is hope for our soils in the form of biodegradable polymers. The results from soils should, however, not be directly transferred to other natural environments. For instance, biodegradation of polymers in seawater might be considerably slower, because the conditions there are different and so are the microbial communities.”

 

Initially Published by Peter Rüegg on the 25/07/18 in the ETH Zürich

www.ethz.ch/en/news-and-events/eth-news/news/2018/07/soil-bugs-munch-on-plastic-films.html

Currently, bioplastics represent about one percent of the about 320 million tonnes of plastic produced annually. But
as demand is rising and with more sophisticated biopolymers, applications, and products emerging, the market is
continuously growing.

Dynamic market growth

According to the latest market data compiled by European Bioplastics in cooperation with the research institute nova-Institute,
global bioplastics production capacity is set to increase from around 2.05 million tonnes in 2017 to approximately
2.44 million tonnes in 2022. Report_Bioplastics_Market_Data_2017

AORA Demonstration Day Proves ABA Certified Compostable Materials Meet Australian Composting Requirements.

The Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) and its Members participated at the 2018 Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA) Annual Conference Demonstration Day Held in Brisbane by putting certified compostable bags and food service ware to the test.

Participating ABA members supplied their certified compostable bags and food service ware with the AORA team to establish time required for items to compost under AORA established conditions. ABA member certified compostable bags and food service ware were buried in an open windrow. Windrow composting is the production of compost by piling organic matter in long rows (windrows).

The AORA team built a windrow of composting FOGO (Food Organics Green Organics) consisting mostly of green waste removed from normal processes at around two weeks from establishment and at around seven weeks prior to the demonstration. Once built, the windrow was not turned again.

The certified compostable items supplied by ABA members were buried in the windrow and staked out at 6/4/2/1 weeks to test decomposition time. At 6/4/2/1 weeks and around 10 days prior to the demonstration the AORA team placed fresh food waste (lettuce and other green leaves) in ABA member certified compostable plastic bags and placed them and some ABA member certified compostable plates, Take-out containers, Clear cups, Paper Coffee Cups and cup lids into holes dug to a depth of around 400-600mm in the windrows. These were re-buried and marked with stakes. The windrow was not otherwise touched. The windrows were temperature tested weekly at 62-65C.

                              

On the AORA Demonstration Day in front of AORA Conference attendees, the AORA team dug up the areas marked with the stakes to check the certified compostable materials state of decomposition. At none of the marked stakes were AORA able to find any evidence of the buried material.

The results, of the decomposition trial of ABA member supplied certified compostable material, were conclusive that all the materials buried during the trial period were composted. The rate of decomposition particularly from items buried at the 1/2/4 week stakes demonstrated the speed of decomposition of certified compostable items. Further investigation, by the AORA team, using a Komptech turner and trommels to ensure nothing was missed, again confirmed that all ABA member supplied certified compostable items had composted.

On completion of the test, ABA Executive Warwick Hall and ABA Committee Member Rivka Garson spoke to AORA members on the stringent process that compostable products need to go through to achieve certification and have the ability to carry the seedling or home compostability logo. Hall and Garson, also spoke on the importance of ensuring that only certified compostable bags and products are used for in composting processes and how to easily identify these items, through the seedling logo and home compostability logo as well as the identifying number supplied to each ABA members products. Without the logos and identifying numbers, material is not considered certified compostable.

Martin Tower, Executive Director AORA stated, “I have to say I was amazed (and a bit embarrassed) that we could find no evidence of anything we buried. I was paying particular attention when the Komptech turner went through the pile to see if we had missed anything but again I saw nothing then or subsequently before the trommels got to work on the windrow. This conclusively proves that Australasian Bioplastics Members supplied certified compostable bags and food service ware decompose under AORA specified conditions.”

About the AORA Annual Conference

The AORA Annual Conference is well established as the principal conference in Australia for the recycled organics industry. Each conference is a forum for education, discussion and networking related to Organics Recycling. It is also an opportunity to celebrate outstanding achievements in the industry. www.aoraconference.com.au