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Biodegradable Plastics Were Not Designed To Be A Solution To Marine Litter

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?

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Oxo-Biodegradables And Other Additive-Mediated Plastics Are Not Bioplastics

“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’

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WA Government Bans Lightweight, Single-Use Plastic Shopping Bags

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

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Queensland Parliament Passes Bill Banning Lightweight Plastic Bags

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

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Bioplastics and Biopolymers Market to reach US$7,622 billion by the end of 2021

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

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NZ Packaging Forum Releases Study Of Compostable Food Packaging & Coffee Cups In Composting Facilities

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

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BioCup Art Series To Raise Money For Rainforest Rescue

BioCup Art Series has teamed up with Rainforest Rescue and Great Barrier Reef Legacy to bring you the #rainforest2reef Art Series. The series features 17 artists whose work celebrates and raises awareness on the importance of protecting the ancient and biodiverse Daintree National Park and the Great Barrier Reef. Each story will be revealed at: rainforest2reef.org.au which will go live on the 14th September.

All BioCups are lined with Ingeo™ bioplastic and made with sustainably sourced paper from managed plantations. Ingeo™ bioplastic is made from plants, not oil and it emits 75% less CO2 emissions compared to conventional plastic.

The cups will be printed in sets of three: a rainforest, reef and an image which connects the two areas. Each image tells a tale about an area or an animal or event such as a flood.

All artists all have a strong connection to Daintree and/or Great Barrier Reef. Indigenous artist Karen Shuan is an influential member of the local community and her work Jalungkarr represents the importance of flooding to the area “All the elders are singing for the rain to make the flash flood come.”

BioPak are proud to support and promote the arts community with the BioCup Art Series. Every three months we will print artwork from Australian and New Zealand artists on our 8oz, 12oz and 16oz single wall and double wall BioCups. BioPak’s curator Kate Armstrong seeks out artists who explore environmental themes at the core of their practice. Delight and engage your coffee customers with this changing series that looks at sustainability issues from what is involved in building a house, to the beauty of Australian bush flowers or the urban environment.

“We’re honoured to be working with such a diverse range of artists who can help tell the story of these special places and why they need protecting,” says Rainforest Rescue CEO, Julian Gray.

#rainforest2reef BioCup Art Cups will be on sale from 10th September 2017 to 15th January 2018. Use hashtag #rainforest2reef on images of your cups and BioPak will donate $1 for every post till 15th January 2018*.

Originally posted by  Rainforest Rescue.