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Towards a Circular Economy, Bioplastics, Food Waste and Agriculture

Rowan Williams, President of the Australasian Bioplastics Association recently presented “Towards a Circular Economy,
Bioplastics, Food Waste and Agriculture” at the A-NZ  Plastics & Waste Conference.

Key highlights of the presentation included:

  • Bioplastics and their role in a Circular Economy
  • Moving from a linear economy to a Circular Economy
  • Bioplastics, food waste and agriculture
  • Certified compostable plastics -benefit
  • Soil Health improvements from food waste, enabled by compostable bioplastics

To view the presentation, click here Towards a Circular Economy, Bioplastics, Food Waste and Agriculture

Australasian Bioplastics Association provides submission in response to the Victorian Government call for community input on Plastic Bag Bill

The Victorian Parliament’s Environment and Planning Committee is conducting an inquiry into the Environment Protection Amendment (Banning Plastic Bags, Packaging and Microbeads) Bill 2016.

The Bill seeks to restrict the supply and sale of plastic bags and plastic and polystyrene packaging, and would prohibit the supply and sale of plastic microbeads.

The amendments to the Environment Protection Act 1970 would restrict the supply and sale of plastic bags and plastic and polystyrene packaging and to also prohibit the supply and sale of plastic microbeads. If passed, the Act would come into operation on 1 March 2017.

The change to the Act would prohibit any bag that is made in whole or in part of polyethylene. The only exemption will be a plastic bag that is manufactured, supplied and used for medical or health-related purposes or for policing or security purposes or that is defined as an exempt plastic bag.

The Act will also prohibit plastic microbeads, defined by the Act asa manufactured plastic particle of less than 5 millimetres that is contained in or added to cosmetics, personal hygiene products (including toothpaste) and household detergents.

If passed, the amended Act will from 1 March 2017, require a retailer to display a notice in their premises, stating that the sale or supply of plastic bags by a retailer will be prohibited from 1 September 2017, unless the plastic bags are exempt plastic bags. Penalties will apply in circumstances where retailers have sold or supplied plastic bags in contravention of the Environment Protection Act 1970 from that date.

The amended Act will also require retailers to display notices on their premises communicating that the sale, supply or provision of perishable fruit or vegetables in restricted packaging will be prohibited from 1 September 2017 and penalties will apply in circumstances where retailers have sold, supplied or provided 25 perishable fruit or vegetables in restricted packaging in contravention of Environment Protection Act 1970 from that date.

The Victorian Parliament’s Environment and Planning Committee sought community views on the detail of the Bill.

“While the inquiry is limited to the Bill rather than seeking to canvas in detail all elements of the issue of plastic bag usage, it is important that the Parliament has a detailed understanding of the implications of the Bill when it is considered early next year,” said Committee Chair, the Hon David Davis. “The Bill, if passed, will have a significant impact on the community and therefore the Committee considers it important that the community has input into the inquiry,” he said.

The Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) provided a submission to the Parliament of Victoria, Environment and Planning Committee Inquiry into the Environment Protection Amendment, stating that it supports such measures and initiatives, however pointed out that alternatives to the banned items should be considered as has already been done in jurisdictions in Australia and around the world, where such bans have already been implemented.

The ABA submission made some key points from the international experience of bans on plastic bags and packaging, to highlight some items for consideration by the Committee.

The ABA submission also highlights 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.

Submissions closed on the 21 October 2016, with The Victorian Parliament’s Environment and Planning Committee stating that it will present its final report no later than the 14 February 2017.

 

Bioplastics in the Circular Economy

Bioplastics: Fostering a Sustainable and Resource Efficient Circular Economy

by Hasso von Pogrell Managing Director of European Bioplastics

Today, there is a bioplastic alternative to almost every conventional plastic and corresponding application. Bioplastics – plastics that are biobased, biodegradable, or both – have the same properties as conventional plastics and offer additional advantages, such as a reduced carbon footprint or additional waste management options such as compostability.

Bioplastics are an essential part of the bioeconomy and a fast-growing, innovative industry that has the potential to decouple economic growth from resource depletion and environmental impact. Yet, an integrated political and economic framework is needed to unlock the potential of a full-scale market introduction of bioplastics.

Dynamic Growth Potential

Currently, bioplastics still only represent well under 1% of the about 300 million tonnes of plastic produced annually. But as demand is rising and with more sophisticated materials, applications, and products emerging, the market is already growing by about 20 to 100% per year. According to the latest market data compiled by European Bioplastics, global production capacity of bioplastics is predicted to quadruple in the medium term – from around 1.6 million tonnes in 2013 to approximately 6.7 million tonnes by 2018.

While Asia is predicted to further expand its role as major bioplastics production hub, accounting for about 75% of bioplastics by 2018, Europe – at the forefront of research and development – will be left with a mere 8% of production capacities. Asia and the USA are already investing strongly in measures “closer to market introduction” to promote faster market development.

Using biomass that is sustainably sourced and regrows on an annual basis is a major environmental benefit of biobased plastic products. Biobased plastics have the unique advantage over conventional plastics to reduce the dependency on limited fossil resources and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or even be carbon neutral. Consequently, biobased plastics can help greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

Moreover, bioplastics can make a considerable contribution to increased resource efficiency through a closed resource cycle and use cascades, especially if biobased materials and products are being either reused or recycled and eventually used for energy recovery (i.e. renewable energy).

The feedstock currently used for the production of bioplastics relies on only about 0.01% of the global agricultural area. Sustainable sourcing of the renewable feedstock and good agricultural practices and technologies are continuously enhanced and ensured through the emergence of reliable and independent sustainability certification schemes.

Increasing Waste Management Efficiency – Making Waste a Valuable Resource

Bioplastics are suitable for a broad range of end-of-life options, including reuse, mechanical or organic recycling, and energy recovery. The overwhelming part of the bioplastic volume produced today can easily be recycled alongside their conventional counterparts where separate recycling streams for certain plastic/bioplastic types exist (e.g. biobased PE in the PE-stream or biobased PET in the PET stream). This way, bioplastics contribute to higher recycling quotas and the implementation of the circular economy.

Furthermore, using compostable plastic products such as (biowaste) bags, food packaging and cutlery, strengthens industrial composting (organic recycling) as a waste management option and helps to increase waste management efficiency. Compostability is a clear benefit when plastic items are mixed with biowaste. The use of compostable plastics makes the mixed waste suitable for organic recycling. It enables the shift from recovery to recycling. Additionally, separate biowaste collection diverts organic waste form recycling streams or from landfills and increases the volumes of valuable compost.

Solutions to the global challenges

The bioplastics industry offers solutions to the global challenges of climate change and increased resource consumption by providing the means for a shift to renewable resources and resource efficiency. In order to realize the full potential of bioplastics an integrated political and economic framework is urgently needed.

European Bioplastics (EUBP) represents the interests of around 70 member companies throughout the European Union. With members from the entire value chain, EUBP serves as both contact platform and catalyst for advancing and highlighting the objectives of the growing bioplastics industry vis-à-vis EU institutions in working towards an integrated policy and economic framework that supports the use of renewable raw materials.

For more information, please visit en.european-bioplastics.org

 

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Australasian Bioplastics Association becomes founding member of the Pan Pacific Bioplastic Association

The Pan Pacific Bioplastics Alliance (PPBA) has been formed to work together in identifying collaborative projects in sustainable development that enhance the PPBA leadership position in the global community.

Founding Members of PPBA include the Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA), the Environmentally Biodegradable Polymer Association in Taiwan (EBPA), the Korean Bioplastics Association (KBPA), the Japan BioPlastics Association (JBPA), the Thai Bioplastics Industry Association (TBIA), the Biodegradable Products Institute in the USA (BPI) and the European Bioplastics (EUBP).

From time to time, Associate Members noted as Technical Partners, may be added to the PPBA.

The Australasian Bioplastics Associations President, Mr Rowan Williams, will assume the role of PPBA’s Executive Secretary.

PPBA projects are focused on promoting the continual growth of bioplastics and may include, but are not be limited to the following:

  • Identifying, organising and promoting sustainable development through dissemination of knowledge and information
  • Co-hosting various programs such as lectures, workshops, seminars, forums, conferences, press conferences as well as other activities.

PPBA’s collaborative projects will be aimed at the general public, companies and industries, NGOs, media, government agencies and academic institutions and associations.

Further information on the PPBA and updates on PPBA activities will be communicated to ABA Members and supporters in the future.

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Abel-Pakk, Tasmanian – from sheep farming to bioplastics

A BioPak Customer Success Story

“We do not inherit the earth from our parents, but borrow it from our children.”

This well-known saying really encapsulates why Craig McLaren started Able-Pakk. He was a sheep farmer and while looking after his grand children once a week in 2009 he started to wonder what environmental challenges they would face as they grew up. He decided he wanted to actively contribute to their future by selling BioPak products.

He was our first distribution partner and today continues to deal exclusively with us, selling our entire range. Craig says,

“BioPak aren’t just providing top quality, sustainably sourced products they are providing positive change. In the last seven years there has been a massive uptake of sustainable practices from both businesses and consumers, and I am proud to provide Tasmania an authentically better alternative to plastic packaging.”

Able-Pakk works tirelessly to raise the profile of quality sustainable products, clearly communicating the message that for the future of the planet, people need to achieve ways of creating energy efficient and renewable processes and goods at every level – from small time operators through to large companies and events.

A perfect example of the community closing the loop is Hobart’s Farm Gate Market – they require all their stallholders to use BioPak packaging and provide green bins to collect it after to use. Our packaging and any organic waste is then processed by commercial compost company, Soils First, into high quality potting mix, available for sale.

“Together with BioPak and the community we can make sustainable choices towards a better future for all our children” says Craig.

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How Close Are We To a New Plastics Economy?

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

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

Why focus on plastic?

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

Click here to read more