The 8th International Conference of Technology & Application of Biodegradable and Bio-based Plastics (ICTABP8) will be held on Oct.21-23, 2018 in Beijing China.

The use of bio-based and biodegradable materials is increasing rapidly, in response to consumer’s desire for products that have “Low Carbon” footprint and are safer for the environment. Around the world, more countries are implementing policies to promote the production and use of these materials. In China, bio-based materials and nanomaterials are included in new material frontier research field in the “Made in China 2025” strategy. Jilin Province began to implement “plastic ban order” in Jilin from Jan.1, 2015, which promotes the use of biodegradable plastic bags and disposable tableware. Major bio-based materials projects of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) have initiated demonstration application in Changchun, Wuhan, Shenzhen and Tianjin Cities. Biodegradable mulching film has been tested in Xinjiang, Yunnan and other provinces. Bio-based 3D printing materials have attracted the attention around the world.

The first ICTABP was held in 2004 in Chengdu, and the following conferences have been held every two years since. So far more than 2000 participants attended the conferences. ICTABP has become an important conference by providing a venue for scientific activities and for business opportunities for biodegradable and bio-based materials. ICTABP expects more than 300 people will attend the conference this year.

Experts from around the world are invited to share their insights with conference participants. Government officials will also participate in the conference.

Concurrent with the ICTABP8, the annual meeting of the 2018 Degradable Plastics Committee of CPPIA will be conducted too.

 

Conference dates:

October 21-23, 2018

 

Organized by:

Degradable Plastics Committee of CPPIA (DPC)

Biodegradable and Biobased Materials Group, China (BMG)

Biodegradable Plastics Institute, USA (BPI)

Japan Bioplastics Association, Japan (JBPA)

Korean Bioplastics Association, Korea (KBPA)

Australasian Bioplastics Association Incorporated(ABA)

European Bioplastics Association (EBA)

 

Chinese Government Department Supporting:

National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC)

Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE)

State Post Bureau of the People’s Republic of China

Standardization Administration of the People’s Republic of China

 

Call for papers:

The deadline for submitting the title and abstract of the paper is June 30th, 2018, and the deadline for submitting the full text is Aug.15th, 2018. Please submit the MS word or PDF format of the papers in English to the committee secretariat in time. We provide 25 minutes to each invited talk including discussions.

 

Call for Sponsors:

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Registration Table ICTABP8 The 8th International Conference of Technology & Application of Biodegradable and Bio-based Plastics

 Note:

Please email the registration table to the Conference Secretariat.

Contacting:

Xiaoqian Diao, Yingxin Zhou, Yunxuan Weng

Tel.:0086-10-68985563, 0086-10-68985380    Fax. : 0086-10-68983573

E-mail: 915338478@qq.com; wengyxsir@126.com

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

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

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

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

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

Soil microbes mineralise films composed of alternative polymer

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

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

Video: ETH Zurich

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

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

Labelling of polymer with carbon-13

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

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

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

True biodegradation

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Too early for an all-clear

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

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

 

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

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

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

Dynamic market growth

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

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

China’s Waste Ban May Just Be An Opportunity

From March 1, China is no longer importing certain “foreign garbage” from countries including Australia and New Zealand. China has been the world’s largest importer and recycler of plastic, paper and scrap metal, a decision that has wide-reaching impacts.

Up to now China has imported recyclable materials, taking in more than 30 million metric tonnes of waste from all over the world, including from the US, EU, Japan, and Australia. Unfortunately much of what arrived in China was dirty or contaminated or mixed. Included in the ban are 24 types of solid waste, any rubbish that is imported in the future needs to be processed and uncontaminated. China’s ban on foreign plastics is as a result of a combination of the government taking a harder line on pollution, with environmental controls getting stricter as well as the influx of contaminated waste landing on its shores.

In Australia 619,000 tonnes of materials worth $523 million and in New Zealand $21 million of waste a year is expected to be impacted by the Chinese ban. With much of the discussion and articles being in regards to what to do with the mountains of waste that will start building in globally, the Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) believes that the ban can lead to some fundamental changes in the reduction and treatment of waste. Change can lead to immobilisation or to innovation.

 Interim Solutions

At an Australian state level, the Victorian Government for example is assisting local councils affected by China’s ban with $13 million to help them manage their rubbish. But they will be on their own from July 1. Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the money would give councils, and their contractors, time to develop solutions and renegotiate contracts. The Victoria State Government also announced a taskforce would be established to help the industry adapt to the new landscape which doesn’t include sending rubbish to China.

Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) said industry had signalled to government for a long time that relying on the export markets for recyclables was dangerous and now it find itself, with the change in China’s legislation, walking towards this inevitability.

 Doing Things Differently

Generally, recyclers make money if they can get rid of plastics and other recyclable material for more money than it costs to collect yet not all recyclers follow the same model. TerraCycle is an innovative recycling company that has become a global leader in recycling hard-to-recycle waste. TerraCycle takes a different approach, it works directly with companies like L’Oréal, Colgate, Nestle and Unilever to collect and process hard-to-recycle materials. TerraCycle sells the material as plastic pellets or metal alloys to be made into things like plastic garbage bags, frisbees, dog bowls and benches. For this reason, the China ban will not impact its business model as much but the cost will increase. More importantly,  as TerraCycle’s Tom Szaky  states, “We can’t recycle our way to sustainability. We have to think purchase differently. There is the ability for us to affect this whole thing.”

Time to Reduce Waste

China was the world’s dominant importer of plastic waste. A senior EU official stated, he now expected the waste to go to other countries in Southeast Asia, such as Vietnam and Malaysia. The question for Australia and New Zealand is whether commencing to send waste to another country is really the long term solution required. First and foremost waste reduction should be at the top of every Australian and New Zealand’s policy makers list.

Governments, introducing sustainable procurement nationally would demonstrate that government are willing to model these behaviours. Sustainable consumption should be the main focus of future legislation, including the reduction of packaging on products that do not actually require packaging. Industry could be legislated to use recycled or compostable plant based content wherever possible, while consumers could be encouraged to choose recycled  or compostable packaging through the introduction of clear labelling disclosing the degree of recycled content or Certified compostability. Governments, local, state and federal are also key drivers in the development of organic recycling industry, shifting valuable waste from landfill and creating a usable product – nutrient-rich compost.

Creating New Industries & New Jobs

The WMAA is looking to potential opportunities.  The WMAA proposes investment in new recycling infrastructure which create construction jobs and economic activity that provides a real boost to local economies. The WMAA also believes that the change to a circular economy will not only bring long term employment, through green-collar manufacturing, but also sustainable economic growth. As an example, with Container Deposit Schemes being introduced nationally and WMAA said the key is that the recycled product made in Australia is re-used by the beverage companies that participate in this scheme.

The WMAA would like to ensure that packagers are using recycled products as an input in all they do but understand that governmental support is imperative. The WMAA wants the Federal Government to assist in establishing a circular economy by helping industry and encouraging consumers.

In South Australian data has shown that an extra 25,000 jobs would be created over five years by recycling and reusing our waste rather than dumping or exporting it.

Sydney-based Re.Group recently invested $8 million to open a new recycling operation at Hume in the ACT and is stepping up its campaign to grow its local customer base. At the Hume facility Re.Group process all the glass that it receives which is made into sand that can be reused locally. This stops new raw material being sourced, as instead of mining a beach or a river bed and getting new sand, a more sustainable product for building all kinds of infrastructure like roads.”

What About Bioplastics?

Bioplastics are not new and the benefits of bioplastics in a circular economy are gaining more attention. With a vast range of products from bags, to phone covers, to plant pots, to dog toys, to food containers  and much more, all being made from bioplastics it demonstrates that bioplastics can replace many things made from conventional plastic.

In Australia, with numerous Councils implement FOGO (Food Organics and Green Organics Recycling), bioplastics especially certified compostable plastics are starting to become more predominant in our communities. Certified Compostable plastics bags are used to capture food waste for recycling at compost facilities or in home composting.

Food services companies are also looking to change. With our busy life styles Australians are predicted to spend US$1,342m delivered / take away food in 2018, this equates to a lot of take-away containers and a lot of single use plastic. Companies such as ABA Members BioPak, Dzolv Products Pty Ltd and Novamont already produce compostable take away food containers, coffee cups and food service ware, which can be sent to industrial compost facilities rather than landfill.

With big names including Amcor, Ecover, evian, L’Oréal, Mars, M&S, PepsiCo, the Coca-Cola Company, Unilever, Walmart, Werner & Mertz, Procter & Gamble, Puma, Samsung, IKEA, Tetra Pak, Heinz, Stella McCartney, Gucci and retail leader Iceland UK all implementing large scale bioplastics products and packaging solutions overseas, bioplastics is here today and for the future.

 Acting On The Future

China’s change in legislation to not accept certain recyclable materials will create an impact in Australia and New Zealand. The question is, how will legislators and industry in both countries react? For Australia and New Zealand the future is about protecting jobs and ensuring every household and business has confidence to continue recycling whilst reducing our waste and personal footprint. Hopefully it is also about creating a robust circular economy that can benefit both Australia and New Zealand.

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

 

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

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.