Category Archives: Bioplastic

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition – Not so sustainable

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) claims to take a material neutral, lifecycle oriented approach to packaging sustainability with a goal of enabling and encouraging a more sustainable economy for all materials. However, their recent opinion publication against enhancing the biodegradability of plastics is detrimental to the sustainable management of plastics after use. They also claim to have evaluated the use of additives that accelerate the biodegradation of plastics. However, their conclusions and information make it apparent that the only “evaluation” that was conducted was input from organizations that have a competitive interest to these technologies and will directly benefit from the falsities presented. The study was elementary at best and does not include the critical information to accurately evaluate the impact of a material or technology. The position of the SPC lacks credibility, accuracy and directly promotes misinformation to an industry already confused by green-washing and clever marketing.

Sustainability will only be achieved by evaluating the facts, educating the industry and making changes that are effective in real world situations. Unfortunately, many of the “trendy” ideas regarding sustainability are more environmentally damaging than our current methods and materials. This is exacerbated by organizations that promote themselves as sustainability experts and spread misinformation to promote a specific agenda. Often these ideas have a “feel good” aspect, so it is simple to sway opinion. Sustainability however is not achieved by following emotional response or by doing what seems to be right. Sustainability decisions must be based on facts, results and the current infrastructure.

Here is a factual look at the opinions presented by the SPC: Get the Facts

Connecting the dots between plastic waste and renewable energy

With the recent United Nations Conference on Climate Change, there’s a lot of talk about harnessing renewable energy.  Take a company like Unilever who’s committed to becoming ‘carbon positive’ by 2030.  Meaning, 100% of Unilever’s energy across its operations will come from renewable sources, in just 15 years!  Interesting, now let’s quickly switch gears and take a look at plastic waste and the sustainability efforts taking place there.  With the advent of Extended Producer Responsibility, brands and manufacturers will be held accountable for the post-consumer stage of its product.  What is the common disposal method for the majority of Unilever’s packaging and products?  Well, if we’re being honest and using the facts and data available, it’s all ending-up in a landfill.  Recycling comes in a distant second and composting and incineration are practically nonexistent.   However, considering this new agenda Unilever proposes, is this really a negative thing?  Not if someone can connect the dots.

Today, the bad thing about landfills is in name only.   Perhaps we need to start referring to this single most common disposal method simply as Bioreactors.  The vast majority of all MSW ends-up in “landfills” that capture and control the gases being produced in these environments and turning it into energy.  This valuable resource, Landfill Gas-to-Energy, is considered the most economical form of green energy available today, even when considering the costs of hydro, solar and wind.  Once converted, landfill gas can be utilized in many ways: to generate electricity, heat, or steam; as an alternative vehicle fuel; or sold on the energy market as a renewable “green” power or gas. All States in the U.S. (including California) utilize gas to energy as part of their green initiatives and companies like Mars, Dart, Toyota, Frito Lay, SC Johnson, Tyson Foods, Kimberly-Clark, Coca-Cola, Anheuser Busch, just to name a few, are already harnessing this energy resource.

If Unilever’s plastic products and packaging where designed for this specific environment, it could essentially power itself with the trash it produces.  Today, we have the ability to make plastic waste naturally biodegrade in these amazing anaerobic environments, Bioreactors.   The Recycling industry and the Compostable Plastics industry will continue to rail against this, but it’s time more companies rely on facts and scientific data instead of myths and emotions that simply coddle consumer’s inaccurate perceptions.  Today, and in the foreseeable future, Landfills/Bioreactors will absolutely play a major role in the way we manage waste and harness renewable energy.  The demonization of this fact is counterproductive to the goals being set.  The power is in the hands of companies like Unilever to see beyond the status quo and implement solutions that provide accountability and viability for itself and its customers.  Connecting the dots is the key to a sustainable future.

Are sustainability efforts appeasing the myth or addressing the facts?

A recent blog on LinkedIn caught my eye, “9 Take-Aways That Resonated From SPC Advance.”  It was about the recent SPC Advance Conference, a GreenBlue / Sustainable Packaging Coalition members only plus guests event.

“SPC Advance is an amazing opportunity to gather different members of industry, academia, and government together to share perspectives, knowledge, and insight into sustainability,” said GreenBlue and Sustainable Packaging Coalition Executive Director, Nina Goodrich.

Sounds good, right? The who’s who of professionals, the decision makers on the environment, packaging and creating a more sustainable future… Then, you hear some of the feckless rhetoric that emerges from this brain trust and it leaves you wondering if this is just an exercise in futility.

Kim Carswell of Target commented, “Bio polymers move packaging closer to petroleum independence as part of our move to a circular economy.”

Kathleen Sayler, Assistant Director of the EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery says that currently in the U.S. over 30% of edible food goes to waste resulting in significant social, economic and environmental costs, and it is estimated that Americans waste 141 trillion calories of food annually at a cost of over $161 billion dollars. Food production accounts for 50% of land use, 80% of freshwater consumption, and 10% of total energy use in the United States.

These two need to get together for a come to Jesus moment.  Land system change is a major environmental factor and our existing use in farming is already having perilous effects on our environment.  Let’s not be too quick to jump into corn, sugarcane or potatoes as something that’s going to save the planet.  We should not waste food and our farming should be to feed people, not our insatiable appetite for plastic, it’s not sustainable.  It’s a recipe for our economy and ecosystem to go down the circular drain.

Walmart Senior Sustainability Manager, Ashley Hall, said that customers should not have to choose between products that they can afford and products that are better for them and the environment. She emphasized Walmart’s focus on selling products in recyclable packaging, and stated that the company has made packaging made with recycled content a priority.

There is no term more ambiguous than “recyclable.”  Take a walk with me down Walmart’s isles and I’ll point out all the packaging that will not be recycled.   Heck, we can just visit one isle; you know the one that sells all the trash bags, tinfoil and plastic utensils and foamed plates?  Next time, take a look at all the Great Value brand items, along with the other brands – none of it is being recycled.  Don’t even get me started on those crappy light-weighted plastic bags that have “Recyclable” on them – nonsense.  We need to start basing our actions on facts and scientific data, instead of propagated myths.  If you’re going to make the claim, prove its happening.  It’s long overdue that we separate facts from fiction.  “Recyclable” – theoretically, and that’s the problem.

Kim Carswell, Group Manager at Target stated, “Packaging is a gateway to our consumers.”  She continued saying that Target likes to give consumers alternative options for the products’ and packaging’s end-of-life instead of the materials having to go to landfill, and that Target is constantly asking how its designs influence end-of-life.

Personally, I’m not interested in trying to find a non-existent alternative option; I’m not a garbage sorter.  When I buy the product, I throw away the packaging. There is nothing more counterproductive in advancing our environmental position than the demonization of landfills. Landfills are not the problem; packaging simply needs to be designed for the most common disposal method. If that’s a landfill, let’s not keep making decisions on folklore and pretending this isn’t happening.   Landfill Gas to Energy is the cleanest and most inexpensive alternative energy resource available; it’s the byproduct of the biodegradation process that is coming from the natural breakdown of organic waste in this specific anaerobic environment.  80% of all municipal solid waste goes to modern landfills that control or capture this natural gas.  Perhaps it would make it easier on everyone if companies like Target took genuine accountability and made all their plastic packaging Landfill Biodegradable, because it’s not getting recycled and I’m not getting in my car and taking it to my local industrial composter 80 miles away.

Amy Duquette, Sustainability Project Manager at HAVI Global Solutions, which represents the packaging department of McDonald’s, said that packaging is the consumer’s last experience with the brand, and that experience should be as positive as possible. Through mechanics such as the How2Recyle Label, brands can empower consumers to do the right thing, in this case recycle packaging.

Regulations such as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) are predicated on the brand/producer doing the right thing, not the consumer.  The experience being created isn’t positive, it’s downright misleading!  Think of all the plastic applications used at McDonald’s, the white cup, the lid, straw, utensil, packaging for utensil, condiments, all of it, IS NOT getting recycled.  It’s not happening, it does not exist, stop it.   EPR simply means producers will be held accountable for the post-consumer stage, not the consumer.  It does not say you need to recreate a new disposal environment or champion one over the other.  It starts with an easy question, where does all (minus the idiots who litter) the McDonald’s plastic applications end-up?  If you said a landfill, you’re on the right track.  Honesty is the best policy.  Now what?    That’s the path to accountability.

Al Metauro, President & CEO of Cascades Recovery, Inc. said, “Doing the same things and expecting a different outcome is insanity.”  He’s absolutely right; we’ve been beating the same drum for a long time and it’s not improving our situation.  These Goliaths of industry need to understand where these plastics will be disposed of and implement solutions based on that environment and, as Laura Koss, Assistant Director of the Federal Trade Commission, points out:

  • Be as specific as possible.
  • Make environmental claims clear and prominent.
  • Don’t make qualifications about those claims only in asterisks and in tiny print.
  • Be honest about what your product represents and does not represent.
  • In the FTC’s eyes, it’s all about what a “reasonable consumer” might think about an on-package claim.

It’s absolutely unreasonable to take landfills out of the equation. Today, modern landfills are energy generating power plants and the vast majority of all of our waste ends-up in this managed and profitable environment. Let me emphasize this important and critical fact: today, nearly every State within the United States (including Alaska) already implements landfill gas to energy programs and each of these States count that energy creation as part of its green energy efforts. This is already an infrastructure that is in place and it’s a proven resource.   Spinning our wheels to create more programs and new infrastructure such as for recycling, composting, incineration, etc. will bear a significant environmental and economic cost to implement.

A recent study, “Plastics: Establishing the Path to Zero Waste” provides the most comprehensive and informative look at plastic disposal today and the environmental, economic and social impact of landfilling, recycling, composting and incarnation. The only way organizations will truly reach sustainability with plastics is if they take a step back look at the entire picture and evaluate the facts.

Let’s stop promoting environmental fairytales, get the science and data to make decisions about environmental solutions that will have the greatest positive impact today and begin doing something productive. We must strongly evaluate concepts such as bioplastics, recycling and compostable plastics that have no positive impact to our environment; show me the data!!! It’s time for these Big Boys to put their big-boy pants on and take responsibility and accountability for what’s actually happening. Let’s get past trying to just make the consumer “feel good,” progress feels good.

Compostable Plastics Banned from Composting Facilities

Portland has announced a major change to their community compost system – as of March 1, 2015 they will no longer be accepting compostable plastics such as forks, spoons and cups. In fact, any food scrap loads with more than trivial amounts of compostable plastics will be diverted to the landfill. This also means that compostable plastics should not be marketed as compostable in Portland because they are not allowed in the system.

This decision comes as a surprise to many restaurants who have diligently converted to compostable plastics trying to “go green”. Unfortunately, what they were not told when they were sold on the “compostable plastic” was there is many different plastics that will compost, some provide value while others do not.  There are natural plastics such as starch and ENSO RENEW that are virtually identical to food waste. There are other synthetic plastics that will compost, such as PLA, that are not similar to food waste (and will not biodegrade in your back yard either). These second types of compostable plastics add absolutely no value to the compost system. Current ASTM D6400 requirements for compostable plastics require that the plastic convert 90% to CO2 within 120 days. These requirements are also built for commercial compost systems that operate at extremely high temperatures – much higher than most compost piles ever reach (why? because PLA requires the high heat to break down). The result? You end up with plastics that turn into greenhouse gas or don’t break down at all in the compost system. Either way, there is no value or benefit left in the soil.

Contrary to popular belief, these synthetic compostable plastics are not the same as plant matter in the compost. Plant matter degrades slowly over time and results in carbon retention in the soil as well as minerals and nutrients (together all of this known as humus). The value of composting is to create nutrient rich top soil – not to convert everything into air or to leave plastic fragments in our soil.

As we move toward more natural compostable materials such as ENSO RENEW, perhaps it will help Portland to reconsider accepting plastics in the compost system.

Read the full article

The truth about reusable shopping bags

Some bags are only beneficial after more than 100 uses

By Quentin Fottrell

Los Angeles is the latest American city to ban the use of single-use plastic grocery bags, but experts say their most common replacements—paper and reusable bags—come with environmental and financial costs of their own.

Indeed, some reusable bags need to be used over 100 times before they’re better for the environment than single-use plastic bags. Polyethylene bags need to be used four times, a polypropylene bag must be used at least 11 times, and a cotton bag must be used at least 131 times, according to a study by the U.K. Environment Agency .

Starting Jan. 1, the Los Angeles City Council prohibited the use of plastic bags, joining nearly 90 other cities around the country in banning what environmentalists say have been the scourge of oceans for decades. Consumers in L.A. will now have to pay 10 cents for a paper bag provided by the supermarket or bring their own reusable bag to the store. But the cost of paper and reusable bags goes beyond just the 10-cent fee. “If we are really going to change behavior we need to come up with some other way than relying on shoppers to buy paper bags or carry their own bags,” says Phil Lempert, CEO of grocery information site SupermarketGuru.com . In other words, find an alternative to both single-use “carryout” and reusable plastic, Lempert says.

The widespread use of single-use carryout plastic bags raises significant environmental concerns, according to a 2010 report by professional technical-services company Aecom Technology Corp ACM -2.03% . It cited the short and long term adverse effects to marine ecosystems, solid waste management, global resource consumption and litter. In most instances, a switch to reusable bags provides the greatest environmental benefits, the report found, “if used at least a minimum number of times.” Many major retailers sell reusable bags in biodegradable canvas, plastic or “bioplastics” manufactured from natural materials. But some of these materials “are very, very energy intensive material to manufacture,” says Stephen Joseph, counsel for the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, a San Francisco-based coalition of plastic bag manufacturers.

People may not want to carry food in the same bag for extended periods for fear of contamination, experts say, although cotton bags may be the most easily washed and reusable. At the end of their life, only 5% of reusable plastic bags are recycled in the U.S., according to a 2011 report by California State University, Chico, and Clemson University. That’s the same recycling rate for single-use plastic bags.

Another problem: Many reusable bags being sold at the country’s major retailers are imported. Wal-Mart WMT -0.67% sells reusable bags with slogans like “A little green goes a long way.” In fact, many have also come a long way—over 7,000 miles. Wal-Mart’s standard reusable bag (50 cents) is made in China. Whole Foods has a variety of 99-cent “ Better Bags ” that are made from 88% recycled materials, but they’re not exclusively made in the U.S., a spokesman says. (Whole Foods shoppers are offered a rebate of 10 cents for each reusable bag they use.) Home Depot HD -0.87% also touts a store-branded orange nylon tote (99 cents), which is made in China. And Trader Joe’s polypropylene reusable bags (99 cents) are made in Vietnam.

Paper bags are biodegradable, but some experts say cutting down trees is no answer either. Some 46 million tons of paper and paperboard were recovered in 2011—a recycling of almost 66%—and accounts for over half of all recyclables collected in the U.S. by weight, according to the government’s Environmental Protection Agency. That includes all paper, of course, and not just bags. “By volume, it’s still enormous,” says Joshua Martin, director of the Environmental Paper Network, a global coalition of over 100 nonprofit organizations. Still, Martin welcomes the move away from plastic bags in L.A. and elsewhere, and favors a surcharge for each paper bag to encourage more people to think twice—and then some—about recycling. “You won’t find a whale washed up on the beach with its belly full of paper,” he says, “so I support the ban.”

To read the original Market Watch article click here: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/are-reusable-bags-worse-for-environment-than-plastic-2014-01-09

When I ran across this article I knew that I needed post this as a blog. This is a fantastic article and the comments are very telling with the reality of the situation we face when it comes to solving global environmental problems. There really is no arguing the pros and cons of plastics in our lives. The introduction and development of plastics was and continues to be a significant innovation to the improvement to the quality of life and at the same time it also is a growing environmental problem.

This article and the comments are great examples and a sample of how our society is trying to address the environmental problem we have created with using plastics. The truth is that innovation got us into this mess and innovation will have to get us out of it. It is extremely frustrating to see society desperately trying to do something with most of what is trying to be done will take decades to get habits changed or make even a slight difference on a large scale. The truth is that what we are doing is barely making a dent in the problem we already have and is not even close to keeping up with global growth of plastic use.

It’s frustrating at the least to listen to the arguments about using reusable bags verse single use bags. Most of what is being done whether it is using reusable bags, recycling, trying to reduce plastic use, etc is trying to solve a huge problem using tiny approaches. Sure it feels good as an individual to use reusable bags or to choose to throw everything into the recycle bin, but these approaches will not solve our global plastic pollution issue. We must think big and bring big solutions to the discussion of how we are going to solve this issue, otherwise we are going to look back 10, 20 , 30+ years from now and see that the problem has only gotten worse.

ENSO Plastics has developed a renewable plastic resin which is made from agriculture waste, it is marine degradable and completely safe if consumed by humans or other animals. So why are we still dealing with figuring out if we should use reusable bags or if they should come from china or all the other little issues, when there are technologies that exist today that would make bags that would biodegrade (in landfill and compost), are marine degradable within a few weeks, would break down within months if littered (based on climate moisture) and if consumed by wildlife would do no harm and is digestible?

Using ENSO RENEW resin to manufacture bags would cost a fraction of what is being proposed for paper bags of ten cents. This is a no-brainer in my mind and is the passion behind ENSO Plastics to solve the global plastic pollution issue. This technology and others like it are available today and consumers should be demanding large scale solutions like these to address the large scale plastic pollution issue.

ENSO Plastics Announces Biodegradable Plastic Solutions for the Philippines

MAKATI, Philippines–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The grace period for Makati City Ordinance No. 2003-095 has ended. This ordinance bans the use, sale and distribution of plastics that are non-biodegradable. To help manufacturers comply with the city ordinance ENSO Plastics announces two new biodegradable technologies for the Philippines market – ENSO RENEW™ and ENSO RESTORE™.

ENSO RENEW™ is a unique Renewable Thermo Polymer (RTP) derived from the waste process of agriculture, with a carbon footprint 75% lower than polyethylene. It is a high heat renewable biopolymer that provides home and industrial compostability as well as being marine degradable. ENSO RENEW™ is designed to meet the needs of applications looking for renewable solutions to meet new legislative requirements utilizing fast growing plant based material and rapid biodegradation. Manufacturers are also able to blend ENSO RENEW™ with traditional plastics for partially renewable solutions that are durable.

ENSO RESTORE™ is the latest development of biodegradable additives offering superior improvements to biodegradable performance and process-ability/compatibility and eliminating the historical higher scrap rates of competing additives, creating a huge environmental and cost advantage. ENSO RESTORE™ is a leading edge technology that accelerates the natural biodegradation without any disruption to disposal method or performance. ENSO RESTORE™ biodegradable additives work with light weighted packaging, thin film applications, and heavier injection molded parts in all major resin types: PE, PP, PET, PS, Rubber, Nitrile, polyurethane and more.

ENSO Plastics solutions are quick to implement with minimal or no change in current manufacturing. It’s quick and easy to integrate biodegradable technologies that comply with the recently implemented laws without difficulty or expense.

About ENSO Plastics™

ENSO Plastics, LLC is an environmental plastics solutions company with proprietary biodegradable and biobased solutions, bringing to market cost competitive cutting-edge solutions to meet the market demands of sustainability, home or industrial compostability, landfill biodegradability, marine degradability and recyclability.

ENSO Plastics’ mission is to solve the global plastics pollution issue by bringing the best technologies to market, finding solutions with the greatest and most productive impact for the plastics industry and providing answers that can be trusted to integrate seamlessly – a platform that companies can stand behind with confidence.

If you are interested in learning more about ENSO Plastics technologies, please visit us at http://www.ensoplastics.com or call +00-1-602-639-4228.
Contacts

ENSO Plastics
Paul Wightman, +00-1-602-639-4228
http://www.ensoplastics.com

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20130620006486/en

Important California Notice
California law prohibits the sale of plastic packaging and plastic products that are labeled with the terms ‘biodegradable,’ ‘degradable,’ or ‘decomposable,’ or any form of those terms, or that imply in any way that the item will break down, biodegrade or decompose in a landfill or other environment. These restrictions apply to all sales in or into the State of California, including such sales over the Internet.

Newly Developed Plastic Reduces Carbon Footprint 75%

Mesa, AZ — (SBWIRE) — 06/13/2013 — ENSO Plastics™ announces their latest product; demonstrating their continued commitment to innovation and the environment with the release of ENSO RENEW™ RTP. ENSO RENEW™ RTP is a revolutionary plastic that puts the environment first with a significant reduction in carbon footprint, rapid biodegradability and the utilization of agricultural waste rather than petroleum or fossil fuels.

ENSO RENEW™ RTP provides a huge reduction in overall carbon footprint. A product’s carbon footprint is a critical factor when determining the impact on the environment. ENSO RENEW™ RTP boasts a carbon footprint over 50% less than PLA (one of the most common bio-plastics) and over 75% lower than HDPE (the plastic used to make film, milk jugs and many other items). ENSO RENEW™ RTP is made from agricultural waste that is manufactured very close to the source keeping the carbon footprint minimal. While most companies work to reduce their carbon footprint by fractions of a percent, ENSO RENEW RTP opens a whole new realm of possibilities.

ENSO RENEW™ RTP offers a unique end-of-life advantage for disposal not requiring specialized industrial composting facilities to breakdown, as ENSO RENEW™ RTP biodegrades rapidly in most natural soil and marine environments. ENSO RENEW™ RTP passes the ASTM D6400 standard for industrial composting, as well as marine degradability and home composting in as little as 10 days. Additionally, ENSO RENEW™ RTP is natural, and if accidentally consumed by wildlife will not cause harm.

ENSO RENEW™ RTP can be used as a stand-alone resin or blended with polyethylene or polypropylene. ENSO RENEW™ RTP is made from agricultural waste allowing manufacturers to take advantage of “bio-preferred” programs whether used as a stand-alone or blended.

ENSO RENEW™ RTP resin blends well with many types of PE, as well as PP, and shows good versatility in many applications; such as films, blow molded parts, and heavier injection molded parts. ENSO is currently working with leading companies in agriculture, consumer goods and other high profile applications, who recognize the unique opportunity to use plastic that is sourced sustainably, used effectively, and disposed of in a way that adds value to the ecosystem.

Between the environmental damage caused by long lasting traditional plastics and the need for alternative solutions, ENSO RENEW™ RTP will change the face of the industry and the environment. Contact an ENSO Plastics Business Development Representative today to learn more about how your company and brand can now use plastics that are more environmentally responsible.

About ENSO Plastics™
ENSO Plastics™, LLC is an environmental plastics solutions company with proprietary biodegradable and biobased solutions, bringing to market cost competitive cutting-edge solutions to meet the market demands of sustainability, home or industrial compostability, landfill biodegradability, marine degradability and recyclability.

ENSO Plastics™ has a mission to solve the global plastics pollution issue by bringing the best technologies to market, finding solutions with the greatest and most productive impact for the plastics industry and providing answers that can be trusted to integrate seamlessly – a platform that companies can stand behind with confidence.

Learn more about ENSO™ technologies visit us at http://www.ensoplastics.com or call U.S. (866) 936-3676 , international 001 602 639-4228 .

The Truth Shall Set You Free

We produce well over 200 billion pounds of plastic each year.  This is a well-documented environmental issue of grim proportions; plastic is literally trashing our planet.  Brands, manufactures and consumers are fully aware and the search for solutions is in full swing.  Fortunately, our awareness has spurred incredible technological advances to address this problem, some better than others.

As a brand, being environmentally accountable is a trait that serves well in the marketplace.  It’s a hallmark that projects the greater good.  But in a Cass Sunstein meets George Orwell world,  where the FTC, EPA, FDA, IRS, (insert acronym),  are watching your every move and new terms such as Extended Producer Responsibility emerge, it can be paralyzing to make that technological decision.  You want to choose something that is justifiable, reliable and proven.

In a small microcosm of the larger issue, we catch a glimpse of the efforts and problems we face.  In a recent article Coffee Makers wrestling with recyclability of single-serve pods,  TerraCycle is boasting about recovering 25 million coffee capsules over the last couple years, but has essentially found no use for them.  Are we to understand that companies are paying TerraCycle to collect and store these things in some warehouse?  Add to this, according to the article, 41 million adults drink a coffee made in a single-cup brewer every day.  So in a two year effort, TerraCycle could not recover a single days’ worth of coffee capsules?  Clearly, the Customary Disposal Method for this application is the garbage, in other words, the Landfill.   Let’s not jump on a bandwagon for the sake of waiving a green flag, the overall effect is useless.

Here’s one, California is now floating a new Bill to put the burden on companies to find solutions for plastic waste in our waterways.  The same State that bans the claim of biodegradable materials (and has sued companies legitimately making those claims), is now requiring brands and manufacturers to seek out and implement biodegradable solutions?? Are they expecting producers to put their necks on the line in search for innovation? Good luck taking that bait!

Unfortunately, the principle concern of environmental safety is being contaminated with agendas that have not proven capable of long term sustainability.  There is a tendency to gravitate towards colorful Green language instead of clear, black and white solutions.  Today, we have the capability to address plastic pollution on an incredible scale, without contamination.  Unfortunately, too many producers are paralyzed with uncertainty or are turning to the least point of resistance.

A perfect example is the less than bold stand that one of the largest producers of bottled water took, “Lightweighting”.  Holy crap! That’s it?  Reduce your costs and provide a rigid bag for a bottle?  C’mon…the “commitment to minimizing the environmental impact” is lackluster., considering 50 billion plastic water bottles end up in U.S. landfills each year.

Here’s my humble opinion.  Within a generation, we have witnessed the birth of the plastic EVERYTHING.  We began filling-up our Landfills with EVERYTHING and noticed NOTHING was reprocessing back into nature.   The raging river of plastic is pouring onto our planet and we place the majority of this material in Landfills.   There is a biodegradation process in Landfills that is beaming with potential and we have the proven ability to produce, capture and harness one of the most inexpensive and cleanest energy resources and fundamentally address our plastic pollution problem.

Recycling is an industry I support, but the numbers don’t lie and the goal is not to prop-up one particular industry, it’s to clean our planet.  We need to stop kidding ourselves and start dealing with reality.  I also understand Sourcing from renewable resources, but harvesting Corn for plastic in order to claim “Compostable” is absolutely wrong.  I’ve lived in many places over the years and I have yet to find my local Industrial Composting facility.  But if I did, I would respectfully not bring them my plastic waste.  Let’s face it, you can claim it, but it’s not going there and where it is going, this technology does nothing.   For those adding metal into the equation, this technology is borderline criminal.  That probably explains the parasitic tendencies of this technology in underdeveloped countries.  Both of these technologies have an adverse effect on our Food Source/Supply, which alone is highly irresponsible.

When making the decision on how to be accountable for your Plastic Footprint, know what is out there, get the full story and get the proof that it performs as claimed.  If you stand in the light of truth, you will be safe.  70% is greater than 30%, 2+2=4, what’s right is right.

Consumer Pressure and Legislation Increasing Demand for Biodegradable Plastics by Nearly 15 Percent Annually During 2012 to 2017 in North America, Europe and Asia, Says IHS Study

Europe continues to be largest consuming region for biodegradable polymers, with more than half of global total

“The biodegradable polymers market is still young and very small, but the numbers are off the charts in terms of expected demand growth and potential for these materials in the coming years,”

According to a new IHS Chemical (NYSE: IHS) global market research report, mounting consumer pressure and legislation such as plastic bag bans and global warming initiatives will increase demand for biodegradable polymers (plastics) in North America, Europe and Asia from 269 thousand metric tons (KMT) in 2012 to nearly 525 KMT in 2017, representing an average annual growth rate of nearly 15 percent during the five-year period 2012-2017.

The IHS Chemical CEH Biodegradable Polymers Marketing Research Report focuses on biodegradable polymers, including compostable materials, but not necessarily including all bio-based products. Biodegradable polymers are a part of the larger overall bio-plastics market. Typically, bio-plastics are either bio-based or biodegradable, although some materials are both.

In terms of biodegradable polymer end-uses, it is estimated that the food packaging (including fast-food and beverage containers), dishes and cutlery markets are the largest end-uses and the major growth drivers. In both North America and Europe, these markets account for the largest uses and strong, double-digit growth is expected in the next several years. Foam packaging once dominated the market and continues to represent significant market share for biodegradable polymers, behind food packaging, dishes and cutlery. Compostable bags, as well as single-use carrier plastic bags, follow foam packaging in terms of volume.

“The biodegradable polymers market is still young and very small, but the numbers are off the charts in terms of expected demand growth and potential for these materials in the coming years,” said Michael Malveda, principal analyst of specialty chemicals at IHS Chemical and the report’s lead author. “Food packaging, dishes and cutlery constitute a major market for the product because these materials can be composted with the food waste without sorting, which is a huge benefit to the waste management effort and to reducing food waste and packaging disposal in landfills. Increasing legislation and consumer pressures are also encouraging retailers and manufacturers to seek out these biodegradable products and materials.”

The report also noted that these biodegradable polymers offer expanding uses for biomedical applications. Another developing use for these biodegradable polymers is in the shale gas industry, where they are used during hydro-fracking as more environmentally friendly proppants to ‘prop open’ fractures in rock layers so oil and gas can be released.

In 2012, Europe was the dominant market for biodegradable polymers consuming 147 KMT or about 55 percent of world consumption; North America accounted for 29 percent and Asia approximately 16 percent. Landfill waste disposal and stringent legislation are key market drivers in Europe and include a packaging waste directive to set recovering and recycling targets, a number of plastic bag bans, and other collection and waste disposal laws to avoid landfill.

The most acceptable disposal method for biodegradable polymers is composting. However, composting requires an infrastructure, including collection systems and composting facilities. Composting has been a growing component of most  European countries’ municipal solid waste management strategies for some time, and the continent has an established and growing network of facilities, while the U.S. network of composting facilities is smaller, but expanding.

North American consumption of biodegradable polymers has grown significantly in recent years, according to the IHS report, primarily due to the following factors—biodegradable polymers have become more cost competitive with petroleum-based products, and there has been growing support at the local, state and federal levels for these products (for example, legislation defining biodegradability, and plastic bag bans). In addition, there has been progress in addressing issues relative to solid waste disposal, such as improving composting infrastructure.

Said Malveda, “A couple of main barriers to these biodegradable polymers are price and performance, which will become less significant as processing technologies improve, more applications for their use are developed, and production increases. Regulations such as plastic bag bans are being enacted in many countries, and this stimulates new research investments for alternative materials and new uses.”

In Asia, there has been some growth of biodegradable polymers use due to government and industry promoting their use. This also includes plastic bag bans and global warming initiatives. However, Asian consumption of biodegradable polymers has not increased as much as expected. Current market prices of biodegradable polymers continue to be higher than conventional, petroleum-based resins. However, the Chinese market is expected to grow rapidly due to new capacity and government legislation supporting the environment. Future growth will also depend on price reductions, Malveda said.

In 2012, the two most important commercial, biodegradable polymers were polylactic acid (PLA) and starch-based polymers, accounting for about 47 percent and 41 percent, respectively, of total biodegradable polymers consumption. Starch sources vary worldwide, but include corn, potatoes, cassava and sugar beets. In Europe, starch-based biodegradable polymers are the major type consumed, accounting for 62 percent of the market, due to Europe’s large, starch-based capacity and their use in many applications. This is followed by PLA, with 24 percent and other biodegradable polymer types with 14 percent.

For more information on the IHS Chemical CEH Biodegradable Polymers Marketing Research Report, please contact susan.wright@ihs.com. To speak with Michael Malveda, please contact melissa.manning@ihs.com, or press@ihs.com.

About IHS (www.ihs.com)

IHS (NYSE: IHS) is the leading source of information, insight and analytics in critical areas that shape today’s business landscape. Businesses and governments in more than 165 countries around the globe rely on the comprehensive content, expert independent analysis and flexible delivery methods of IHS to make high-impact decisions and develop strategies with speed and confidence. IHS has been in business since 1959 and became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, USA, IHS is committed to sustainable, profitable growth and employs more than 6,700 people in 31 countries around the world.

IHS is a registered trademark of IHS Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners. © 2013 IHS Inc. All rights reserved.

Are you confused about recycling?

Are You Confused About What to Recycle?

When is the last time you asked yourself or someone else if something was recyclable?  It a common question and one that gets many different answers depending on what packaging or material you are asking the question about.

Most recycling programs will have information readily available to the public on what they will accept in the recycle bins.  This list however is quite small and becomes apparent that what recyclers are looking for is the cream of the crop.  If you are anything like me you put everything in the recycle bin and hope that it will motivate recyclers to start taking more material.

People in general want to do the right thing and truthfully speaking it’s a great feeling to know we are doing our part to help recycle when we do make the effort to recycle.  I suppose someday recycling will become a mainstream religion – to a very few it already is.  I often wonder what recycling would look like if people got paid for their recyclable materials?  After all for decades aluminum cans provided a source of additional funds to many and this resulted in very high recycling rates for aluminum cans.  It would sure make it a little more worth the effort to sort through and place materials in the proper bin.

The April 1st, 2013 issue of Plastics News had a great Viewpoint article by Don Loepp which addressed this very issue as a discussion point from the March Plastics Recycling Conference in New Orleans.

http://www.plasticsnews.com/article/20130321/BLOG01/130329974/plastics-recycling-are-you-still-confused#

If we are going to have recycling be a big part of the environmental solution to the growing global plastic pollution issue we are going to have to get aggressive about our recycling efforts and recyclers will need to be a stakeholder in the bigger environmental mission as much as they are with the business focus of recycling.  All materials have the potential to be recycled, let involve state and federal programs to bring innovation to the market so that recyclers can accept all materials and have markets to sell those materials.

We’d love to hear what you think?

Plastics recycling: Are you still confused?