Novamont presents the findings of its scientific research at the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi (Kenya)

During “Together against marine litter and micro-plastics”, the high-level side event held at the UN Environment Assembly taking place in Nairobi (Kenya), Christophe De Boissoudy, managing director of Novamont France, illustrated the vision of the Italian research company that has been developing and producing biochemicals and biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastics since 1991.

For more than 25 years Novamont has been working to define a model to provide innovative solutions to the problems posed by plastics when they are used for certain applications that have a high risk of polluting bio-waste or ending their life in the environment.

This is why Novamont is developing its activity in a circular economy model by repositioning biobased and biodegradable plastics in the larger context of the need to recover organic waste for its return to soil through compost. The inherent biodegradability of plastics must be related to each specific environment. This is the reason why, in order to avoid misleading communications, it is essential that the term “biodegradable” is associated only with the relevant degradation environment (where) and its related conditions (how much and how long).

According to Mr De Boissoudy, “Before talking about biodegradation in the marine environment, it is important to remember that 80% of the plastics found at sea is of terrestrial origin. Therefore, we need an efficient waste management in the mainland in order to avoid leakage and we have to block litter before it reaches the sea. The marine environment must be protected in the mainland. Waste must be sorted, collected, recycled, biodegraded in the mainland. Thus, paradoxically, compostability and biodegradability in soil is even more important than biodegradability in the sea, for the sake of the marine environment”.

Separate collection of waste is key and biodegradable plastics have been widely studied over the last 20 years. Many national and international standards have been adopted to show biodegradability in industrial composting, home composting and soil (e.g. EN 13432, ASTM D6400, ISO 18606, EN 17033). These standards define the ability of plastics to biodegrade totally (how much) under different conditions without adverse effects towards the environment, in industrial composting, home composting, in soil.

Sample of different MATER-BI® – Novamont bio-based bioplastics – have been exposed to marine sediments and biodegradation followed in the laboratory measuring the metabolism of marine microbes fed with the plastic. Biodegradation resulted to be higher than 90% (absolute or relative to the reference material) in less than one (1) year. The biodegradation results have been verified by Certiquality within the EU pilot programme “Environmental Technology Verification (ETV).

These results obtained in laboratory have been further confirmed by Nora-Charlotte Pauli, Jana S. Petermann, Christian Lott, Miriam Weber in “ROYAL SOCIETY-OPEN SCIENCE: Macrofouling communities and the degradation of plastic bags in the sea: an in situ experiment”: “Contrary to PE, the biodegradable plastic showed a significant loss of tensile strength and disintegrated over time in both habitats. These results indicate that in the marine environment, biodegradable polymers may disintegrate at higher rates than conventional polymers. This should be considered for the development of new materials, environmental risk assessment and waste management strategies” (http://rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/4/10/170549)

Source: Novamont, press release, 2017-12-05.

The Victorian Government is seeking views from the community on banning single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags and managing plastic pollution in Victoria. Have your say and help to design a ban on lightweight plastic bags that is fair, effective and lasting.

Australians use around 10 million plastic bags every day – an astonishing 4 billion every year. Of these, approximately 150 million end up in our oceans and waterways, contributing to an estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic dumped into the ocean every year. These plastic bags fill our landfill, harm our wildlife, and can take between 15 and 1,000 years to break down in the environment. Even then, they never disappear; they simply break down into smaller and smaller fragments that continue to cause environmental harm. Most Victorian council kerbside recycling bins do not accept plastic bags, and only 3% of Australia’s plastic bags are currently being recycled.

The Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) supports a ban on single use non-recyclable polyethylene plastic bag. The ABA would like consideration given to the role that certified compostable plastic bags can play as an alternative to the non-recyclable polyethylene plastic bag. With certified compostable plastics being fully biodegradable, there is no risk of micro plastic being available to the environment when disposed of in the required  end of life of composting, whether commercial or home. International experience of bans on plastic bags and packaging demonstrates that certified compostable bags are highly beneficial in assisting in kitchen food waste collection for diversion to composting whether in the home or a commercial facility. Certified Compostable material can also be used to develop heavy duty reusable bags.

Provide your view to the Victorian Government Consultation until the 25 January 2018.

https://engage.vic.gov.au/waste/plastic-pollution

You may have heard the term FOGO being used in the media or through local Councils more and more but what does it actually mean. FOGO stands for Food Organic and Garden Organics.

FOGO is considered any food waste including fruit and vegetable scraps, processed food and leftovers from meals such as meat, fish, chicken, bread, egg, egg shells, dairy products, coffee grounds and tea bags. Garden waste can include grass clippings, flowers and herbs, small branches and leaves. Paper towel, compostable plates, and compostable bags can also be disposed of through a FOGO service.

So why all the talk about FOGO?

Many Australian and New Zealand councils have recognised that sending FOGO to landfill does not offer any benefits. FOGO is far better off being composted, either at home or a commercial composting facility. Recognising that not everyone home composts, many councils are trialling or introducing FOGO collections services, where FOGO is collected and sent to a commercial composing facility.

Composting FOGO is great for our environment

Most of the greenhouse gas emissions from landfill come from decomposing organic material which could be recycled. Not only do food and garden organics produce methane as they decompose in landfill, but their nutrients remain locked in landfill and can’t be used again to grow plants and food. Compost can be used to fertilise gardens, farms and sporting fields and the mulch can be used to protect against weeds, reduce plant stress and save water in gardens, parks, orchards and vineyards.

Composting and mulching FOGO is also cheaper than sending them to landfill. By reducing the amount of material sent to landfill then councils can invest in other community services.

*Bega Valley FOGO logo

Biodegradable plastics are designed to biodegrade in soil, not in water and especially not in our oceans.

The most effective way of addressing plastic litter and  in fact any litter that ends up in the ocean, is to stop it at source, prevent it from getting there in the first place. This can be achieved by education to change the behaviour of people, perhaps engineering remedies like filtration and screening, formulation of products, but these are not matters that we are qualified to address.

Plastics marked as ‘biodegradable’ do not degrade rapidly in the ocean. National and international standards have been developed to define terms such as ‘compostable’ and ‘biodegradable’ which refer exclusively to terrestrial systems, most typically to industrial composting. The Australian Standard AS4736 defines biodegradable bioplastics that are suitable for industrial composting, but makes no claims about other environments, including marine environment.

Biodegradation occurs when microorganisms consume the material as feed and in the process generate CO2, water and leave some harmless residual biomass. The rate and extent of biodegradation is dependent on a number of variables, mostly the immediate microorganic population. A compostable bioplastic will completely biodegrade within a composting cycle, which is about three months. Composting conditions include a very healthy population of microorganisms, plenty of oxygen and water and elevated temperatures. When the conditions are less than ideal, the process is much slower or may not occur.

Conditions in the world’s oceans and seas varies in oxygen level, temperature, microorganism levels, action of tides and waves, so there is no single environment in which a microfibre might be found, but one common condition is that the level of microorganic activity is much lower than in a compost heap. Therefore the rate of biodegradation will be much slower and as a result, the microfibre will be present in the marine environment for some months, perhaps longer,  before it completely biodegrades.

There are performance standards covering the compostability of plastics, like Australian Standard AS4736, but to date there have been no internationally recognised standards covering biodegradability in the sea, partly because the conditions vary so much. This is now changing with performance standards addressing biodegradability in the sea currently being developed in Europe and North America.

Plastics, whether plant-based, fossil-based, degradable or non-degradable, should never be allowed to end up as waste in the ocean, unless specifically engineered to decompose rapidly in marine environments. Further research and the design of products that biodegrade in marine environment can only help to reduce the impacts of marine litter in the future where efficient waste management is not sufficient enough. The main solution to plastics in the ocean is better waste collection and recycling.

For more information see – Are biodegradable bioplastics a solution for the problem of marine litter?

“Oxo-degradable” plastics are conventional plastics containing special additives designed to promote the oxidation of the product, resulting in its brittleness and fragmentation into small pieces, but uncertain to ensure a complete degradation or mineralization.

Products made with additive-technology and available on the market include film applications such as shopping bags, agricultural mulch films and, most recently, certain plastic bottles. Experts from the plastics industry, waste management, and environment protection voice serious concerns about these products. They claim to be “degradable”, “oxo-degradable”, “oxo-biodegradable”, or “oxo-fragmentable”, and sometimes even “compostable”, without providing any sort of proof for the claims made.

These products are made from conventional plastics and supplemented with specific additives in order to mimic biodegradation. In truth, however, these additives only facilitate a fragmentation of the materials, which do not fully degrade but break down into very small fragments that remain in the environment – a process that would be more accurately described by the term “oxo-fragmentation”.

Claims of “oxo-degradability” might sound appealing, yet, they are misleading as they cannot be verified due to the absence of a standard specification i.e. an explicit set of requirements to be satisfied by the product.

A self-imposed standard for oxo-degradation merely sets out the parameters on how to test the degradation process, not, however, the results or even criteria for passing the test of degradation. There is currently no internationally established and acknowledged standard or certification process that proves the success of oxo-degradation. Without verifiable proof or certification for the claim, the term “oxo-degradable” is just an appealing marketing term.

Companies offering additive-mediated conventional plastic materials promise a “quick solution” to countries that have no or nearly no waste management infrastructure, but this promise comes with great dangers to the environment. If these additive-mediated fragmentable plastics are littered and end up in the landscape, they start to disintegrate due to the effect of the additives that trigger the breakdown into fragments, which remain in the environment.

Accepted standards for industrial composting, for example, already exist and are indicated by corresponding labels. Biodegradation requires consumption by microorganisms, such as in industrial composting or home composting, but time, heat and other critical factors that affect the biodegradation and disintegration of the product or material, are measured against a performance standard [such as Australian Standard AS 4736-2006 (amendment 1, 2009), referred to above and Australian Standard AS 5810-2010 for products designed for home composting] with pass or fail criteria, as prescribed by the relevant standard.

Originally posted by European bioplastics

Background information:

EUBP background paper on ‘oxo-degradable plasticst’

OWS report on ‘oxo-degradable plastics’

OWS report on ‘enzyme-mediated plastics’

Lightweight, single-use plastic shopping bags will be banned in Western Australia from July 1 next year.

The State-wide ban will bring Western Australia into line with South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory which already have plastic bag bans in place. Queensland has also vowed to ban the bag from July 1, 2018.

Plastic bags make up a relatively small portion of solid waste and litter but can significantly harm marine wildlife and birds which can inadvertently eat or become entangled in plastic bag waste.

WA’s plastic bag ban has garnered widespread support across the local government sector in recent months and among major retailers which are some of the biggest suppliers of plastic shopping bags.

Major supermarkets Coles, Woolworths and IGA have indicated their intention to ban single-use plastic bags while some WA retailers – including Aldi and Bunnings – already support the ban by not offering single-use plastic bags to their customers.

The Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) supports the banning of lightweight plastic bags, with the exception of compostable bags which can perform the function of a shopping bag and subsequently help facilitate the collection and composting of food waste.

For further information visit  www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2017/09/McGowan-Government-gives-green-light-to-bag-ban.aspx

Queensland’s Parliament has officially passed the Waste Reduction and Recycling Amendment Bill 2017, which introduces a ban on lightweight singlet-style plastic bags. Coming into effect on 1 July 2018, the lightweight plastic bag ban will apply to all Queensland retailers, with penalties applying to any retailer who does not comply with the legislation.

According to Queensland Environment Minister Steven Miles, the Bill passed through parliament with bipartisan support, reflecting the “overwhelming community support” for both the refund scheme and the bag ban. He has been particularly pleased to learn that some retailers have already stopped supplying lightweight plastic shopping bags in advance of the official commencement date.

A transition period will start a little before 1 July 2018 to help shoppers and retailers make the switch to reusable bags. During the transition, a retailer that normally provides a lightweight plastic shopping bag must supply an alternative shopping bag if the customer asks for one. Retailer may charge for an alternative bag, which can include a reusable heavy duty plastic bag, woven polypropylene “green bag,” paper or other type of bag.

The ban will not apply to the following bags:

• barrier bags without handles (typically used for fruit and vegetables)
• heavier-weight plastic bags (such as those used by department stores)
• bags that are integral to a product’s packaging (such as a bread bag)
• fabric and ‘green’ bags (often used at supermarkets)
• paper or cardboard bags (often used in food outlets, pharmacies and convenience stores)
• kitchen tidy or bin liner bags

This ban will affect all retailers – from grocery stores to fashion boutiques, from convenience stores to fast food outlets – that currently use lightweight plastic bags, including HDPE plastic, biodegradable, compostable, and degradable bags. The National Retail Association (NRA) is holding a series of state-wide workshops to fully brief retailers about the lightweight plastic shopping bag ban.

The Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) supports the banning of lightweight plastic bags, with the exception of certified compostable bags which can perform the function of a shopping bag and subsequently help facilitate the collection and composting of food waste. Certified compostable materials can also be used to develop heavier-weight plastic bags, “green” bags, kitchen tidy or bin liner bags, barrier bags without handles and bags that are integral to a product’s packaging (such as a bread bag). Certified compostable materials and bags are readily available, deliver the same user functionality and are an environmentally friendly alternative.

Bans on lightweight plastic shopping bags are already in place in other parts of the country including South Australia, the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania.

For further information visit www.qld.gov.au/environment/pollution/management/waste/plastic-bags/about

GMI Research latest study, estimated the global bioplastics & biopolymers market at USD 3,587 billion in 2016 and projects it to reach USD 7,622 billion by the end of 2021, and is projected to witness a CAGR of 16.27% during the forecast period.

Major factors boosting the growth prospects of the bioplastics and biopolymers market include supportive government policies and regulations due to lesser toxicity and lower amounts of carbon content, growing concern for human health, and the high consumer preference towards bio-based bio-degradable packaging.

In 2016, the Bio-PET market is estimated to surge at the highest rate during the forecast period due to its increased usage in the packaging industry. These have similar properties to conventional PET. Bio-PET helps in the reduction of a product’s carbon footprint and also helps in recycling. The properties of Bio-PET include durability, flexibility, heat resistance, printability, and lower carbon content. This makes it the best fit for numerous applications in sectors such as packaging, automotive, consumer goods, textiles, and agriculture.

The packaging and bottles segment is projected to hold the largest share in the bioplastics and biopolymers market during the forecast period owing to its growing application in food, goods, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals packaging. Bioplastics  are being used to manufacture various products such as bags, agriculture foils, toys, textiles, overwraps, lamination films, and disposable housewares, to name a few. The growing global preference for bio-packaged products by consumers is a crucial factor fuelling the growth of the packaging and bottles segment of the bioplastics and biopolymers market.

The bioplastics and biopolymers market is dominated by the European region followed by Asia-Pacific, North America, and the rest of the world. Europe holds the largest market share in the global bioplastics & biopolymers market during the forecast period. The growth of bioplastics & biopolymers market in the European region is attributed to the stringent government policies and regulations, growing concern for human health and an increasing focus from consumers towards sustainable packaging.

Source Link: https://www.gmiresearch.com/report/bioplastic-biopolymers-market.html

The NZ Packaging Forum Public Place Recycling Scheme has released the findings of a detailed survey of 27 composting facilities across New Zealand to understand their experiences with processing compostable food packaging including compostable coffee cups.

Eleven facilities have agreed to be listed as accepting compostable food packaging with a further two unnamed facilities able to do so. Seven facilities are piloting processing systems or developing the capability to accept compostable cups and other compostable packaging waste. Coverage varies with North Island facilities identified in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, New Plymouth, Hawkes Bay and Wellington and South Island facilities in Tasman and Kaikoura.

Lyn Mayes, Manager of the Packaging Forum’s Public Place Recycling Scheme which commissioned the research said: “Around 295 million hot and cold cups are consumed annually in New Zealand with over 90% of coffee cup brands are either manufactured or sold by our members.  The industry has seen a significant growth in the volume of compostable cups and with this confusion as to whether, where and how they can be composted.

“We commissioned Beyond the Bin to assess the range of cups on the market; survey facilities about whether they can process compostable cups; identify the barriers and make recommendations as to how these can be resolved. Based on the information supplied by our members, the compostable coffee cups in the New Zealand market have similar specifications and are typically certified to the EN13432 (Commercial compost European standard).”

Kim Renshaw, Director Beyond the Bin said: “The composting industry has some will and/ or capacity to process food packaging including coffee cups and in most cases, their C-PLA lids. The barriers they face to process compostable food packaging in their existing operations are varied and significant. Contamination, lack of identification, length of processing time, volume vs weight and organic input restrictions affect a composter’s will and capacity.”

“The Packaging Forum with its members can help solve these issues by creating an identification and standard for cups and innovating product design to reduce the length of processing time. Contamination, volume vs weight and organic input restrictions are process/ regulation related which require a combined effort from waste producers, service providers, regulatory bodies and packaging companies.”

“Many composting facilities have special relationships with credible waste producers, those who contaminate their waste and provide a clean waste stream which means a facility might take compostable food packaging from one customer, service provider or event who agree to use composter approved packaging and are employing decontamination techniques.”

Mayes said that the study provides a pathway:

“We have already initiated a change to our funding criteria for events this year requiring applicants to provide evidence they will separate packaging waste either during the event or through post event sortation. Our members are working with community composting service providers such as Home Grown Waiheke Trust to provide local solutions and we see an opportunity to support standalone compost units as an option for small scale local solutions. And it is particularly exciting that product innovation is taking place with members looking at the development of new products capable of home composting.”

“Work is underway to develop an agreed identification system for coffee cups which will clearly identify them as compostable or recyclable where facilities exist and a process for its use.  We have started discussion with the Waste Management Institute New Zealand (WasteMINZ) about an identification standard to ensure consistency and increase the likelihood of acceptance.”

Paul Evans, Chief Executive of WasteMINZ said “We commend industry for undertaking this research. For any solution to be effective in the long term there needs to be real collaboration between packaging manufacturers and the composting industry, recognising the potential impacts on compost products. We look forward to working positively with the Packaging Forum to determine an appropriate composting standard and identification system, which meets the needs of all parties”.

The Public Place Recycling Scheme is an industry funded initiative which is owned and managed by the Packaging Forum. Over 40 of New Zealand’s leading companies support the Scheme paying levies which are used to buy recycling and litter bins and to help fund recycling and composting at events and venues around the country.

Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) Member BioPak, is also a member of Public Place Recycling Scheme and is on the steering committee of the composting facilities study.

The full report is available on: http://recycling.kiwi.nz/

Originally posted by NZ Public Place Recycling Scheme’s website

Claims regarding the degradation of plastics can be highly confusing and understanding the difference can actually be quite simple. The seedling logo, an international certification and symbol exists clearly identifying certified compostable degradable plastics.

The seedling logo is a symbol that the product’s claims of biodegradability and compostability as per Australian Standard 4736-2006 have been verified. The seedling logo clearly identifies and differentiates packaging materials as biodegradable and compostable and clearly identifies compostable biodegradable plastics for retailers and consumers.

Use of the seedling logo will help the end consumer, retailers, customers and municipal authorities to recognise compostable packaging and dispose of it accordingly. Importantly, the seedling logo will communicate the authenticity and independent verification of claims of compliance to AS4736‐2006.

To be certified compostable and carry the seedling logo, suitable biopolymer materials must undergo a stringent test regime outlined by AS4736 and carried out by recognised independent accredited laboratories to the AS4736 standard. Once successful testing is complete, application for formal certification must be made to the ABA. Successful applicants will be licensed to use the logo along with their unique certification number.

Certification verifies that the product will fully biodegrade in an industrial composting plant under controlled conditions such as temperature, moisture and time frame – leaving nothing behind but water, biomass and CO2.

The Seedling logo is a registered trademark owned by European Bioplastics and administered by the Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) in New Zealand and Australia. The ABA launched Australian Standard 4736-2006, compostable and biodegradable plastics – “Biodegradable plastics suitable for composting and other microbial treatment” which is known as the ‘seedling logo’ certification system throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Use of the seedling logo is available to both packaging material producers and their customers, and allows retailers and consumers to clearly identify a more sustainable choice in bags and packaging.

So to avoid confusion and be certain that you are making an environmentally friendly sustainable choice, choose products and packing with the seedling logo.

For further information visit https://bioplastics.org.au/certification/the-seedling-logo/