A Plastics Market Watch report released 10 May, entitled Watching: Bioplastics – the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) reports bioplastics are in a growth cycle stage and will outpace the economy as a whole. New investments and entrants in the sector and new products and manufacturing technologies are projected to make bioplastics more competitive and dynamic.

The report finds growing interest in bioplastics, but also a continued need for education. According to a survey PLASTICS conducted of U.S. consumers in January 2018, more consumers are “familiar” or “somewhat familiar” with bioplastics compared to a survey conducted just two years ago; 32 percent of consumers are familiar with bioplastics in 2018 compared to only 27 percent in 2016. The PLASTICS survey also indicated 64 percent of consumers would prefer to buy a product made with bioplastics – and expect to see bioplastics in disposable plastic tableware, plastic bags, food and cosmetic packaging, and toys.

As bioplastics product applications continue to expand, the growth dynamics of the industry will continue to shift. Looking at industry studies on market segmentation, packaging is the largest segment of the market at 37 percent followed by bottles at 32 percent. Growth opportunities in bioplastics manufacturing are expected to continue from the demand and supply side. While in the past growth in bioplastics was primarily driven by higher petrol-based polymers, changes in consumer behavior will be a significant factor for higher demand of bioplastics.

“Changes in U.S. tax policy, particularly the full expensing of capital expenditure, should support research and development in bioplastics. The overall low cost of energy in the U.S. complements nicely with research and development activities and manufacturing, which generates a stable supply of innovative bioplastic products,” said Perc Pineda, PhD, chief economist at PLASTICS.

The research and partnerships with bioplastics is exemplified by the efforts to develop a 100 percent biobased PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottle. Most PET bottles currently have approximately 30 percent biobased material, but a number of companies and collaborations are working to develop and launch, at commercial scale, a PET plastic bottle made from 100 percent biobased material.

Despite the industry’s embrace of bioplastics and their expanding presence in a wide range of products, PLASTICS’ Pineda noted, “A high percentage of surveyed respondents believe they have not seen or used a product made from bioplastic — either biobased or biodegradable. Continuing to educate consumers on bioplastics would go a long way.”

The report is available for download to members and non-members. First published in bioplastics Magazine

http://www.plasticsindustry.org. 

Europe to ramp up funding for bio-based plastics

The European Commission will increase the funding for research and development of innovative bio-based plastics and to further improve plastic recycling. During the press conference on the European Strategy on Plastics earlier this month, the Commission’s Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said: “we are also ready to finance or increase financing for new innovations in recyclability and new oil-free raw materials. Horizon 2020 has already allocated 250 million Euros for this kind of innovative work, and we have decided to increase the ceiling with additional 100 million by 2020.”

This is an important signal for the bioplastics industry in Europe, which is needed to drive continued change in the plastics industry towards an innovative, sustainable, and resource-efficient economy.

In the Communication of the Plastics Strategy, the Commission highlights that “alternative types of feedstock (e.g. bio-based plastics or plastics produced from carbon dioxide or methane), offering the same functionalities of traditional plastics with potentially lower environmental impacts at the moment represent a very small share of the market. Increasing the uptake of alternatives that according to solid evidence are more sustainable can also help decrease our dependency on fossil fuels.”

The Commission’s commitment to supporting the development and scaling up of alternative bio-based feedstocks for plastics is crucial for a still young industry that offers substantial opportunities for innovation, jobs, and at the same time supporting the EU’s transition to a circular economy.

Read more here

Big Brands Embracing Bioplastics

We all love the convenience of easy to buy, easy to use products that fill our supermarkets. Convenience means packaging and that means that there are no escaping plastics in our life. Packaging is the single biggest application of plastic globally with most packaging being disposable, single-use items.  Unfortunately, even though recycling exists in many countries, only 2% of recycling globally is turned into new packaging. In addition, with 8 million tonnes of the material enter the ocean each year something has to change.

There are now positive signs that both governments and industry are moving towards a circular economy, where the end use of plastics and packaging is considered from the outset. It looks like bioplastics are no longer just of interest to sustainability focused consumers, big brands have started taking note of bioplastics advantages.

Forward thinking big brands are taking a lead and are calling for the consumer goods industry to step-up its efforts to tackle the mounting challenge of ocean plastic waste and create a circular economy for plastics.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation announced at the World Economic Forum on January 22nd 2018 a list of 11 big brands working towards using 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025. Big names including Amcor, Ecover, evian, L’Oréal, Mars, M&S, PepsiCo, the Coca-Cola Company, Unilever, Walmart, and Werner & Mertz, have chosen to lead the way for other brand-owners, retailers and plastics processors to make the consumables market more sustainable. Considering they represent over six million tonnes of plastic packaging annually, these companies can create real impact.

With an ever-growing number of big brands turning to bioplastic solutions, the market penetration is well on its way. Brands such as Procter & Gamble, Puma, Samsung, IKEA, Tetra Pak, Heinz, Stella McCartney, Gucci and retail leader Iceland UK have already introduced first large scale products in Europe.

There are also other well-known names committing to change, for example, Lego allocated one billion kroner (AUS$162.8 million) to research more sustainable materials. In the automotive market, Ford, Toyota and Mercedes have introduced various bioplastic components in several car models and electronics giant Fujitsu already uses bioplastics in some of its products.

Although the impact of all of these big brands making changes will not be immediate, they will start resonating through their supply chain with suppliers and manufacturers needing to look at viable functional alternatives including plant based compostable bioplastics . The next few years will be an exciting time for the bioplastic market and for consumers. Consumers will be able to make informed decisions and choose products and packaging that have a positive impact.

What Do Consumers Think Of Bio-Based Food Packaging?

Companies in the food sector are looking for alternatives to regular plastic packaging to reduce their CO2 footprint, but can manufacturers and retailers strengthen the brand position of their food products by choosing bio-based food packaging?

For food safety reasons, recycled food packaging, with some exceptions, is not suitable to be reused as food packaging. This is why packaging made from renewable raw materials is the only sustainable option for the vast majority of food products. “

Research in the Netherlands is studying the perceptions of bio-based packaging among consumers and aims to give manufacturers and retailers advise on making well-founded, sustainable packaging choices. Within the COMBO public-private partnership, Wageningen University and Research is helping brand owners in the food segment make well-founded, sustainable packaging choices.

Karin Molenveld and Koen Meesters, scientist at Wageningen Food & Biobased Research, found that many manufacturers and retailers choose drop-in bio-based packaging, which is chemically identical to the traditional packaging but made from renewable raw materials instead of petroleum.

This transition to bio-based has to be made carefully,” says Molenveld, “First, the new packaging must have the right functional properties. But we also need to know how consumers respond to the new packaging and how consumer opinion reflects on the brand.”

Different Is Good

Molenveld stated, “Consumers immediately notice the difference between bio-based packaging with a totally different material composition from the regular packaging. The packaging may have a different appearance or the bio-based plastic feels and sounds differently than what they are used to. Consumers experience this as positive. But a ‘fossil’ PET bottle cannot be distinguished from a bottle made from vegetable sugars, so, if you choose to use a drop in bio-based packaging, you need to clearly communicate and let the consumer know that (even though it looks exactly the same), the new material is beneficial to the environment.”

Clear Communication Vital

 Meesters states, “As a manufacturer or retailer you have to be careful about the claims you make. You can’t just say your packaging is CO2 neutral. As it is almost impossible to prove, you run the risk of having to withdraw the claim and damaging your reputation. In other words: make sure the claim is correct. For example, a claim like ‘this packaging is made from plants’ cannot be contradicted. Moreover, consumers like to know what to do with the packaging after use, which is why claims about recycling and composting are included in the research.”

Consumers are positive about  ‘compostable’ and ‘recyclable’

Consumers need and want to know what to do with the packaging after use. Clear and correct claims about the recyclability of the packaging as well as recommendations for a correct disposal should always be included on the packaging. Machiel Reinders, scientist at Wageningen Economic Research, confirms that consumers are positive about claims on bio-based packaging such as ‘compostable’ and ‘recyclable’, which clearly indicate how to dispose of the packaging product. “Our research shows that consumers prefer clear claims. Stating that products can be discarded with the organic waste is a good example. The more concrete the sustainability benefits, the better the packaging is evaluated.”

In Australia bio-based drop-in plastics can be disposed and recycled together with their conventional counterparts. Compostable packaging, that is certified to Australian standard AS 4736–2006 is designed to be treated in industrial composting plants and compostable packaging that is certified to Australian standard AS 5810-2010 can be home composted.

https://www.wur.nl/en/article/Biobased-food-packaging-through-the-eyes-of-the-consumer.htm?wmstepid=mail_de_auteur

NYC Roles Out Comprehensive Composting Program

It only took three years for New York City, with a population of 8.5 million, to launch a comprehensive composting program for homes, businesses, and schools. Today, New York City’s kerbside food-scrap collection program has reached 3.3 million residents.

So how did New York City do this?

For several years, environmental groups and forward thinking residents ran sanctioned and unofficial composting sites on city land. Food-scrap drop-off sites opened at farmers markets, parks and outside subway stations.

In 2013, seeing composting as an opportunity to address climate change, Mayor Michael Bloomberg championed a citywide program as one of his final initiatives in office. Composting curbs greenhouse-gas emissions and saves money by reducing the amount of waste trucked and shipped by rail to landfills, which costs NY about $105 a ton.

To encourage more composting, the New York City Council passed two laws to launch residential food-scrap collection and guidelines for diverting commercial waste from landfills. There were sceptics, even in the environmental community, who envisioned neglected piles of smelly, rotting food.

Education the key

However, with funding from the city’s Department of Sanitation, groups such as GrowNYC and the Lower East Side Ecology Centre taught classes on sustainability and composting to residents in their respective boroughs. As part of the NYC Compost Project, each group organized drop-off locations and managed a composting yard. First-time compost participants completed online training before receiving a pass code to bins at the drop-off sites.

Meanwhile, the sanitation department launched a separate program for kerbside collection with a neighbourhood in Staten Island and 100 schools as the first participants. A new brown bin joined the recycling and trash bins. The bins were emptied by trucks already collecting leaf and yard waste. Municipal employees managed the program and worked out any snags. Initially, the food scrap was sent to two composting sites and one anaerobic digester within the city.

Less than 1 percent contamination

Even though New York had a poor recycling rate, it was still able to make room for food-scrap diversion in its waste management program. The Staten Island collection reached a respectable 43 percent participation rate, with a contamination rate of less than 1 percent.

New neighbourhoods, schools and high-rise apartments were added to the kerbside program. As of the end of 2017, kerbside collection reached 3.3 million New Yorkers. The drop-off program reached a collection milestone of 10 million pounds in December. By the end of 2018, all residents are expected to have access to municipal kerbside collection or drop-off sites.

Zero Waste Challenge

Progress continues under Mayor Bill de Blasio, who launched the next goal: Zero Waste Challenge. The program is underway at several public schools. In addition to composting and aggressive recycling, the aim is to eliminate waste by 2030 through reuse programs, pay-as-you-throw trash collection and greater recycling of textiles and electronics.

New York’s success demonstrates what can be achieved through careful planning, effective engagements, communication and education.

Modified from an original post by ecoRi News

The Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA) and the Australian Bioplastics Association (ABA) have published a joint position paper on Certified Compostable Bioplastics.

AORA  supports the use of compostable bags and plastics which meet the requirements of AS 4736 and AS 5810 as verified by the Australasian Bioplastics Association allows for safe, effective source separation acceptable for organic resource processing/recycling. Conventional plastics such as polyethylene are not certified compostable and are not biodegradable in any context. Varieties of polyethylene containing additives, such as those called oxo-degradable or oxo-biodegradable are not certified compostable and are not suitable for normal organic processing/recycling operations as they are not biodegradable.

See Joint Position Paper here

 

Organisations worldwide including the Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) endorse a new statement by the Ellen McArthur Foundation that proposes banning oxo-degradable plastic packaging worldwide.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative has published a statement calling for a ban on oxo-degradable plastic packaging and bags. Signatories include leading businesses, industry associations, NGOs, scientists, and elected officials. They include M&S, PepsiCo, Unilever, Veolia, British Plastics Federation, Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association, Packaging South Africa, Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Plymouth Marine Laboratory, ten Members of the European Parliament and the Australasian Bioplastics Association.

In total, over 150 organisations, including leading businesses representing every step of the plastics supply chain, industry associations, NGOs, scientists, and elected officials have endorsed the statement calling for global action to avoid widescale environmental risk.

Oxo-degradable plastic packaging, including carrier bags, is often marketed as a solution to plastic pollution, with claims that such plastics degrade into harmless residues within a period ranging from a few months to several years. However, as outlined in a new statement by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative, significant evidence indicates that oxo-degradable plastics do not degrade into harmless residues, but instead fragment into tiny pieces of plastic and contribute to microplastic pollution, posing a risk to the ocean and other ecosystems, potentially for decades to come.

“The available evidence overwhelmingly suggests oxo-degradable plastics do not achieve what their producers claim and instead contribute to microplastic pollution. In addition, these materials are not suited for effective long-term reuse, recycling at scale or composting, meaning they cannot be part of a circular economy.” – Rob Opsomer, Lead for Systemic

“Using oxo-degradable additives is not a solution for litter. Their use in waste management systems will likely cause negative outcomes for the environment and communities,” said Erin Simon, Director of Sustainability Research and Development, World Wildlife Fund. “When public policy supports the cascading use of materials – systems where materials get reused over and over, this strengthens economies and drives the development of smarter materials management systems. This leads to wins for both the environment and society.”

As a result of the significant body of evidence raising concerns about the potential negative impacts of plastic fragments from oxo-degradable plastics, an increasing number of companies and governments have started to take action to restrict their use, in particular in Europe. For example, in the UK retailers such as Tesco and the Co-operative stopped the use of oxo-degradable plastics in their carrier bags. France banned the use of oxo-degradable plastics altogether in 2015.

However, oxo-degradable plastics are still produced in many European countries, including the UK, and marketed across the world as safely biodegradable. Several countries in the Middle-East and Africa, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, areas of Pakistan, Yemen, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Ghana and Togo, are still promoting the use of oxo-degradable plastics or have even made their use mandatory.

To create a plastics system that works, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative, together with the signing organisations, supports innovation that designs out waste and pollution, and keeps products and materials in high-value use in line with the principles of a circular economy.

Note: Oxo-degradable plastics should not be confused with compostable plastics that comply with international standards and can be safely biodegraded through (industrial) composting.

 THE ELLEN MACARTHUR FOUNDATION

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was created in 2010 to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. The Foundation works across five areas: insight and analysis, business and government, education and training, systemic initiatives, and communication.

With its Knowledge Partners (Arup, IDEO, McKinsey & Co., and SYSTEMIQ), and supported by Core Philanthropic Funder (SUN), the Foundation works to quantify the economic opportunity of a more circular model and to develop approaches for capturing its value. The Foundation collaborates with its Global Partners (Danone, Google, H&M, Intesa Sanpaolo, NIKE, Inc., Philips, Renault, Unilever), and its CE100 network (businesses, universities, emerging innovators, governments, cities, and affiliate organisations), to build capacity, explore collaboration opportunities and to develop circular business initiatives.

The Foundation has created global teaching, learning and training platforms on the circular economy, encompassing work with leading universities, schools and colleges, and online events such as the Disruptive Innovation Festival. By establishing platforms such as the New Plastics Economy initiative, the Foundation works to transform key material flows, applying a global, cross-sectoral, cross value chain approach that aims to effect systems change.

The Foundation promotes the idea of a circular economy via research reports, case studies and books series, using multiple channels, web and social media platforms, including circulatenews.org which provides a leading online source for circular economy news and insight.

Further information: ellenmacarthurfoundation.org | @circulareconomy

 THE NEW PLASTICS ECONOMY

The New Plastics Economy is an ambitious, three-year initiative to build momentum towards a plastics system that works. Applying the principles of the circular economy, it brings together key stakeholders to rethink and redesign the future of plastics, starting with packaging. The initiative is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with a broad group of leading companies, cities, philanthropists, policymakers, academics, students, NGOs, and citizens.

The initiative is supported by Wendy Schmidt as Lead Philanthropic Partner, MAVA Foundation, Oak Foundation, and players of People’s Postcode Lottery (GB) as Philanthropic Funders. Amcor, The Coca-Cola Company, Danone, MARS, Novamont, PepsiCo, Unilever, and Veolia are the initiative’s Core Partners.

Learn more at www.newplasticseconomy.org | @NewPlasticsEcon

Some of the great catalysts of change in the sport and sustainability sectors came together at the #SEASummit 2017, to tackle how the sporting industry can limit its impact on the environment.

Sport instigates passion at the highest level, there is nothing more exciting than watching one of your favourite sporting heroes or your child shoot for a goal, catch a perfect wave or hit a winning shot. We hear the roar of the crowd at large events and watch the sea of people. What most of us don’t think about is the environmental impact of sports and sporting events. Sporting grounds require water and the need to manage waste and energy. Major events have an even bigger challenge with waste, water and energy consumption. Looking at how sports affect the environment and then how to reduce this impact, is the monumental task that the Sports Environment Alliance (SEA) and its members have set themselves.

Held at the iconic MCG, the SEA’s 2nd annual #SEASummit brought together leaders in the sporting world and the sustainability industry to discuss how a collective and collaborative approach can lead to change.

The #SEASummit 2017 attendees read like the who’s who of the Australian sporting world including SEA Members such as the AFL, Basketball Australia, Confederation of Australian Motor Sport , Cricket Australia, FFA, Netball Australia, Surfing Victoria, Tennis Australia (TA), Victoria Racing Club, as well as sporting greats, councils, sustainability industry experts, innovative suppliers as well as media amongst others. All of the participants have one common goal and that is a win for the environment.

Understanding the importance of the role bioplastics can have in minimising waste, Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) members Natureworks, Biopak and Cardia Bioplastics all had guernseys at the #SEASummit 2017. In “Cleaning Up The Materials Conversation”, Gary Smith from BioPak and Doug Kunnemann from Natureworks discussed how shifting to certified compostable plastics can greatly reduce waste created at sporting events ending up in landfill.

Dr Sheila N Nguyen, Executive Director SEA states, “The Sports Environment Alliance is represented by industry leaders who understand that we need to minimise the weight of our imprint on the grass we play on, and to do so, we must be an active part of the circular economy.  Our members and our communities must consider decisions which will #SEAtheChange for the energy, water and materials we have and use.” Sheila continues, “Having the option to use bioplastic products at events ensures that we encourage the creation, use, and management of materials in the best way we can, to authentically engage the no waste world.”

We all know that sport has the power to influence, the SEA want the sport industry tackle environmental health from the grassroots through to the elite level, and encompass everyone who is involved from participants, to fans and venues.

Sport Environmental Alliance, Natureworks, Biopak, Cardia Bioplastics

 

With Australian households throwing away 3.1 million tonnes of edible food per year, many local governments are creating change. Over 500 local governments across Australia manage waste on behalf of their local communities by organising waste collection and processing or disposing of food waste.

Having identified a significant amount of food in their waste streams, local governments are taking steps to reduce food waste through a range of programs. Some of these initiatives include information sessions and demonstrations on storing food and composting at home, grants and rebates for households to purchase compost bins and worm farms, and the roll-out of kerbside organic bins to divert food waste from landfill.

As food and garden waste makes up a large portion (up to 61%) of the average household’s current garbage bin waste, many local governments have introduced  food and garden organics bins. By collecting food and garden waste, local governments are diverting kitchen organics from landfill while also giving people a disposal option for garden waste.

To enable clean and easy kitchen food waste collection, many local governments provide residents with a kitchen caddy and certified compostable liners. Kitchen caddy liners are made from certified compostable materials (usually compostable corn-starch) and are verified under Australian Standard AS4736 to compost in commercial composting facilities within 6 weeks.

The Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) and its members have seen a rapid growth in local governments implementing kitchen food waste recycling for their communities. ABA Member, Cardia Bioplastics (subsidiary of SECOS Group) recently won a major contract to supply AS4736 certified compostable bags to Penrith City Council in NSW.

City of Penrith Mayor, Councilor John Thain, said, “Our council is intently focused on sustainable waste management and resource recovery services, and diverting organic waste away from landfill through SECOS’ compostable bags supports our community’s efforts.”  There are now 27 Councils in NSW who have implemented kitchen food waste recycling for their communities.

 At the recent NSW Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA) Annual awards ceremony in November Albury City Council was recognised for its considerable achievements in implementing a FOGO (Food Organic & Garden Organics) service for residents in Albury and neighbouring councils. The ABA works closely with the AORA to ensure that bags meet recycling standards.

With an increase in organics industrial recycling facilities being setup across Australia, ABA members are continually working closely with councils in running trial programs and supplying AS4736 certified compostable bags.

With a new National Waste strategy having just been launched in November there are sure to be more local governments commencing trial programs and implementing Kitchen Food Waste Recycling.

To find out what your state is doing read here https://awre.com.au/organics/right-climate-organics-recovery-part-2-state-governments-drive-organics-recovery/

 

Australian consumers throw away around 3.1 million tonnes of food—that’s close to 17,000 grounded 747 jumbo jets. Another 2.2 million tonnes is disposed of by the commercial and industrial sector.1 

 Food waste is estimated to cost the Australian economy around $20 billion each year. Food waste is not just wasted food, it also impacts the energy, fuel and water used to grow food that may not be used and instead is thrown away. Food waste that is sent to landfill contributes to greenhouse gas emissions creating further negative environmental impact.

To help address this important issue, the Australian Government committed in 2016 to develop a National Food Waste Strategy and to deliver a National Food Waste Summit. The strategy establishes a framework to support actions that work towards halving Australia’s food waste by 2030. This ambitious goal aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12 for sustainable consumption and production patterns.

On 20 November the National Food Waste Strategy was launched by the Minister for the Environment and Energy at the National Food Waste Summit. The culmination of many months of consultation with industry, academia, the not-for-profit sector, and all tiers of government, the Strategy establishes a framework to support actions that can help work towards halving Australia’s food waste by 2030.

National support for the strategy has been provided by Australia’s environment ministers, and acknowledges the importance of addressing food waste and the impact it has on the environment, the economy and society.

Reducing food waste is a complex challenge due to the range of food types and their supply chains, and regulatory frameworks to support food safety and waste disposal. It also presents a number of opportunities to rethink how food waste can be prevented, or how wasted food can be used for other purposes.

The National Food Waste Strategy adopts a circular economy approach that takes into account the food waste hierarchy and seeks to capture food waste as a resource so it is not sent to landfill. The use of circular economy approaches and the waste hierarchy to address food waste demands a more strategic and collaborative approach. This will challenge to find solutions across the entire food system rather than continuing to operate within single, linear supply and consumption chains.

Managing Australia’s food waste

There are already a number of activities in Australia to reduce food waste. These include consumer education, investment in waste treatment infrastructure, waste diversion from the retail and commercial sector, food collection for redistribution, and research into high value uses for food waste such as composting.

Many local governments have identified the significant amount of food in their waste streams and are taking steps to reduce food waste through a range of programs including Food Organics and Garden Organics (FOGO) recycling.

To read more http://www.environment.gov.au/protection/national-waste-policy/food-waste

1 SARDI (2015) Primary Production Food Losses: Turning losses into profit.  South Australian Research and Development Institute, Primary Industries and Regions South Australia