Tag Archives: Bioplastic

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.

Biodegradable Plastic – Compostable Not So Fast Says Stanford Daily

There was a recent press release issued by Media Juice titled “Biodegradable Plastic – Compostable Not So Fast Says Stanford Daily.”  The press release reviews a study performed by students at Stanford University regarding compostable utensils and their performance in “real world” environments.

The study points out that what the company markets as a compostable PLA material and the “Compostable” certifications that organizations (such as BPI Biodegradable Products Institute) issue on the material is not necessary a reflection of what happens in real world environments.

This brings up a great point and discussion topic and one ENSO has pushed for the past five years and that is that we are mistaken in our approach to promoting, marketing or pushing materials that will go away in any real world environment in a specific timeframe.    Even the much touted and pushed material of PLA is not a rapidly compostable as is promoted in marketing materials.  Sure, we can create test environments which are highly controlled and manipulated that will maximize biodegradation and provide results that look and sound great, but the variety that nature brings in the real world can mean a huge difference in the amount of time needed for a product to biodegrade, from months to even years. This does not change the fact of whether a product is biodegradable, just simply that to dictate exactly when it will biodegrade is a bit misleading to the consumer.

So yes – labs can show specific time frames for biodegradation, but what happens when that same material ends up in real world environments?  9 times out of 10, it doesn’t perform as promised.  So, what does this mean?  How can a material tested and certified by industry organizations such as BPI not perform when introduced into real world natural environments?  After all legislators are passing laws based on such certifications.

We would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.






Innovative Approach has 5 Times the Success of Recycling

The other day I was throwing out the trash and it caught my attention how much plastic waste is not accepted in my recycle bin. Wrappers, blister packs, bags, saran wrap, plastic containers and more all destined for the landfill. Comparing that to my recycle where all I have is beverage bottles, aluminum cans and a cardboard box, the magnitude of the waste problem hit me over the head. With overall plastics recycling in the US averaging near 7%, it is clear that something must be done to address the remaining 93%. And although reports show some increase in recycle rates, these increases are not keeping up with the massive increase in global plastic consumption. Perhaps it is time to focus on the reality of plastic waste – over 30 million tons of it that went into US landfills in 2009. To paint the picture for you, by the time you read this paragraph, the room you are sitting in would have filled up several times over with landfilled plastic. Every year we landfill over 96 million cubic yards of plastic!!

There is a silver lining to this, with today’s landfill management we are converting our landfilled waste to inexpensive clean energy.  In fact, today 35% of all waste is placed in landfills that utilize this methane to energy (methane is produced during biodegradation in a landfill). If this plastic waste had  been biodegradable, it would have converted about 10 million tons to clean energy and freed up 70 million cubic yards of landfill space!!

With today’s biodegradable technology, we have the ability to convert 35% of all our plastic waste to an environmental value, with no need for additional infrastructure or legislative programs. That is 5 times the success of recycling!!

After 30 years of recycling and only reaching a 7% recycle rate, I wonder how long it will take to reach the same or higher 35% rate of landfills collecting and converting landfill gasses into clean energy?  Maybe its time we look at technologies that focus on solving the bigger part of the problem while also supporting the smaller aspect?

So as I finish, I can’t help but wonder, if in the future the power used to run my laptop will come from biodegradable plastics in the landfill…..

Click here to download our informational PDF on Landfills.

BioPlastics Dirty Little Secret

So you know all about bioplastics, Right? You know they are difficult to process, often cause more detriment to the environment than traditional plastics, have limited shelf stability and can be very expensive. But what you may not have known is…..

Nearly every plastic on the market today is a bioplastic! In todays market, when one uses the term “bioplastic” they typically beleive they are refering to a plastic that is sourced from plant materials. What most don’t realize (and many try to avoid admitting) is that most all plastics are made from plant materials!

When I was in elementary school, I had an amazing 4th grade teacher. Of the many things she taught me, one was that fossil fuels were the remains of dinasour bones. Little did my teacher realize the error of her ways. Fossil fuel is primarily comprised of ancient algae (YEP, PLANTS!). So any product made from fossil fuels, is made of……


Now, don’t get me wrong; I am not advocating the use of fossil fuels. Quite to the contrary, it is imperitive that we get away from the use of the ancient plants as quickly as possible. These plants have sequestered carbon for millions of years. Carbon that if released into our atmosphere could cause irrepairable damage.

What I am advocating is to educate properly, get rid of the fluff and marketing and call things as they are. The source is not the issue, it is the environmental impact of the source that is the issue. Perhaps we need to identify plastics as “sustainable” or “not sustainable” and leave it at that. Because you either are or your not, it’s that simple.

Compostable Products Go Straight To Landfill

In Marin, Many Compostable Materials Go Straight to Landfill

Despite proliferation of biodegradable foodware, those products aren’t being composted at the two waste management facilities in Marin. As a result, people’s choices might not be as eco-friendly as they think.

Greenwood School 8th grader Leyla Spositto and her classmates knew something was amiss just a few weeks into the school year when they saw the trash piling up.

Greenwood administrators had chosen San Ramon, Calif.-based Choicelunch as the school’s new lunch provider largely because nearly all of its packaging was made of compostable materials – from corn-based bio-plastic cups to potato-based “spudware” forks and spoons – and therefore would be diverted from the landfill. The move fit with one of the school’s core values of environmental stewardship.

But when Greenwood environmental science teacher Julie Hanft told the students that so-called bio-plastics weren’t being composted in Marin, Greenwood’s 7th and 8th graders, who handle the school’s trash as part of their after-school chores, were stunned.

“All of the stuff from Choicelunch was going to the trash,” Spositto said. “We were very surprised that a system didn’t exist for the packaging to be composted like it was supposed to be.”

So was Greenwood School Director Debra Lambrecht.

“We were very, very surprised,” Lambrecht said. “And the fact that the children were shocked and appalled? We thought, ‘Well right on.’”

With lots of packaging that could neither be composted nor recycled – bio-plastics can’t be recycled like regular plastic – the students and Hanft arranged to have a large collection of their Choicelunch packaging taken to Recology near Candlestick Park in San Francisco, where bio-plastics are composted. But they quickly realized that having a parent or teacher drive a truck across the Golden Gate Bridge weekly wasn’t exactly a sustainable solution.

Greenwood’s students and school administrators found themselves at the crossroads of an issue that all involved say is riddled with complexities. As a result, many Marin residents who think they’re making eco-friendly decisions – buying only compostable plastic cups for their children’s birthday party, for example – are sending more garbage to the landfill than if they were using recyclable materials.

“That’s the big shame about bio-plastics – people think they’re doing the right thing,” said Jessica Jones, the district manager for Redwood Landfill and Recycling Center in Novato, where most of the trash, recycling and compost from northern and southern Marin is taken.

Jones said Redwood, a subsidiary of Waste Management Inc., doesn’t compost bio-plastics because the compost the company produces is sold to and used on organic farms. If its compost contained any materials that took longer to biodegrade – like corn-based foodware or bio bags, for instance – it could not be certified by the Organic Materials Review Institute, the Eugene, Ore., which provides independent review of products to be used in organic farming.

Jim Iavarone, managing director at Mill Valley Refuse, which sends all of its waste to Redwood, said the inability to compost bio-plastics “has been a continual issue for us” ever since the company rolled out compost service in August 2010.

“The makers of these products and food services (like ChoiceLunch) have hung their hat on that,” Iavarone said. “It’s a good idea that just isn’t delivering as hoped or as advertised.”

Devi Peri, the education coordinator for Marin Sanitary Service, which serves most of Central Marin, including San Rafael, Larspur, Corte Madera, San Anselmo, Fairfax and the Ross Valley and Las Gallinas sanitary districts, says her company is in the same boat as Redwood.

“Not all compostable plastics are created equal and we don’t even have any way to see if it’s a true biodegradable plastic,” she said.

But compostable bio-plastics are accepted by other Bay Area waste companies like Recology, which processes most of its OMRI-certified compost at Jepson Prairie Organics, a facility in Vacaville.

“There is a clear disconnect between how Recology can compost bio-plastics and how we can’t,” Jones said.

The difference, according to OMRO Program Director Lindsay Fernandez-Salvador, is that Recology has an extensive “foreign removal program.” That program, essentially a filtering system, calls for manual removal of any all bio-plastic products not clearly labeled compostable. Under California law, products labeled compostable must meet the Biodegradable Products Institute’s ASTM D6400 standards, which “determine if plastics and products made from plastics will compost satisfactorily, including biodegrading at a rate comparable to known compostable materials.”

“Any compost may become contaminated with compostable plastics, but if the program has a reasonably robust foreign removal program, that satisfies OMRI’s requirements,” Fernandez-Salvador said.

A foreign removal program means that bio-plastics that aren’t labeled clearly or don’t meet the standards either end up in a separate compost stream of only products that will degrade at a slower rate than food scraps or yard waste – or they’re tossed into the landfill.

Peri said there is some industry skepticism about how much bio-plastic material is actually ending up in the compost streams at places like Recology.

“I have a feeling that it might be more (going to the landfill) than people might want to hear,” Peri said. “And maybe more than they are reporting.”

Jack Macy, the Zero Waste Coordinator for the city of San Francisco, acknowledged that some “compostable stuff that is not labeled well ends up in the landfill.”

“But the reason that we accept compostable bags and compostable foodware is that it allows us to capture more of the organics that we’re trying to divert from the landfill,” Macy added. “Every composter would prefer not to take that stuff because of the challenges of identification and the breaking down aspect. It’s easier to say no.”

That’s the choice Redwood has made, which spurred Greenwood’s 7th and 8th graders to take on the issue as a community action project. The students researched other options, spoke with potential vendors and made a presentation to Lambrecht right before the holiday break. The school intends to move to a completely independent lunch system next year, with an in-house chef making lunches dispensed with reusable plates and utensils. The move is one that only schools as small as Greenwood, with just 127 students, can afford to make.

In the meantime, Greenwood administrators have decided to dump Choicelunch and explore alternative options for the rest of this year.

“It is very disappointing,” said Karen Heller, the director of business development for Choicelunch, whose company supplies lunches for more than a dozen schools in Marin, including the Mill Valley and Ross Valley school districts. “But it hinges on the waste management company. Our hands are kind of tied.”

For two days a week, the school’s 8th graders will be selling lunch from Grilly’s and Tamalpie Pizzeria (one day apiece) to raise money for their 10-day spring trip. Lambrecht hopes to have a new deal in place in the coming days for the other days.

“We’ve really felt like we’ve accomplished something,” Spositto said of the student’s campaign. “We’re glad we had the authority to make this happen.”

Regulation: Friend or Foe? Is it coming soon to your town?

We have heard regulatory agencies wanting to do more to protect the consumer and the environment alike.  And while regulation is a necessity for a properly functioning society, what does the current trends of regulation do for your business?  What does it do for our economy?  What does it do for innovation and ultimately the environment?

Unfortunately, there is also an additional qualifying question anyone familiar with the way the world spins around will ask themselves… “it depends on which private business is lobbying for, and what agenda…”  Todays environmental issues have an opportunity to be treated with innovation and forward thinking.  Perhaps never before in our history have we been more prepared and evolved to address the real problems relating to the environmental issues we face.  Words like; Life Cycle Analysis, Carbon Footprint, Sustainability, green movement…the list goes on-all in the name of greening up business and consumer habits.  But at the end of the day, what has been the net result?  Because in the end, what is paramount is results-positive results.

How is regulating this “green movement” helping?  Today, innovations have to answer questions of legitimacy and solid science.  Federal agencies like EPA, FTC, FDA are all both educating and becoming more educated on what the market trends are doing, and what materials are available to help green up materials and processes.  They demand companies to sufficiently demonstrate the validity of their claims, and help to curb “green washing” for the irresponsible opportunists looking to only capitalize on our consumer base sincerely wanting to do the right thing.

We at ENSO take this demonstration of legitimacy and solid science behind our innovative material VERY seriously.  We have engaged top-of-their-field scientific minds to aid in the quest to help our innovation receive the understanding and market reception it warrants.  Sometimes innovation outpaces conventional understanding, and what helps bridge the gap between innovation and acceptance is education and credibility.  Some of these processes take more time than desired, but in the end, things that are worthwhile and lasting often endure hurtles.  Many of our past innovations were looked at as a “pipe dream” only to turn into life changing propositions for markets-cars, electricity, a round earth etc. all took time for conventional wisdom to catch up to these innovations.

Today, I believe the market is ripe to receive an increase in both innovation and education, with responsible regulatory agencies sifting through relevant information to help environmental and economic impacts in our market.  Although the budgets in many agencies have been drastically reduced, they are hard at work to create a viable market which will include an earth friendly future marketplace.  Hopefully this work combined with everyone’s convictions and individual effort will drastically reduce the length of time processes can take, so we can more efficiently make innovative materials a positive conversion in our market.  So all can answer, regulation is a friend, not a foe.  One thing is for sure, we need regulation, as long as it helps an ever evolving marketplace.  Indeed nothing these days seem to remain static, questions and answers will always evolve, and so will regulatory process.


Secrets of the Amazon – A solution for the Pacific Garbage Patch?

For decades we have known that the Amazon is home to more species than almost anywhere else on Earth. Amazon Rainforest constitutes the world’s largest “pharmacy” yielding thousands of previously unknown substances found no where else.  Compounds from tropical flora relieve headaches, help treat glaucoma and provide muscle relaxants used during surgery.  The Amazon Rainforest has also yielded guanine for the treatment of malaria and periwinkle for the treatment of leukemia.  Given the rainforest’s teeming biological diversity, its value to humanity as a laboratory of natural phenomena and as a medical storehouse is priceless.

Recently, the “pharmeceutical” benefits of the Amazon have been expanded to the potential of healing the Earth from the plague of plastic waste. A group of Yale students discovered, quite by accident,  a fungus that  appears to be quite happy eating plastic in airless landfills. This fungus shows a voracious appetite for a very common group of plastics: polyurethane.

Human beings have only begun to catalog and name the creatures that live here.  Home to thousands of varieties of flowering plants, the rainforest supports endless varieties of hummingbirds, butterflies and insects such a the rhinoceros beetle and the army ant.  It is also home to the spider monkey, pink and gray dolphins, Amazon river otter, piranha, anaconda, jaguar, blue and yellow macaw, toucan, harpy eagle, fishing bat, tapir sloth, tarantula, Cayman crocodile, manatee, etc.

The Amazon Rainforest, the largest rainforest and richest ecosystem on earth, has stood inviolate for thousands if not millions of years since its creation.  The profusion and variety of life forms present in the rainforest and its critical role in supplying the world with air has resulted in its being called the “Heart and Lungs” of the Planet. Indeed, the majority of the world’s oxygen is supplied by its dense foliage and teeming plant life which upon first inspection, seems boundless and indestructible.

A recent study by the Smithsonian Institution indicates that about 90% of all of the plant and animal species extant in the world today reside in the Amazon Rainforest and depend upon its complex ecology.  As the greatest repository of nature’s treasures and most significant source of air, the Amazon Rainforest is crucial to the survival of all life on the planet and to human beings’ understanding of their place in the web of life.  In the words of Guatama Buddha, “The forest is a peculiar organism of unlimited kindness and benevolence that makes no demands for its sustenance and extends generously, the products of its life and activity.  It affords protection to all living beings.”

Before the arrival of Europeans and up to the third decade of this century, the Amazon Rainforest covered nearly 45 million acres in what is today Brazil, parts of Venezuela, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador.  Brazil has the greatest amount of tropical forest in the world.  It is also experiencing the worse losses:  between twelve million and twenty two million acres a year, according to the World Resources Institute.

Brazil’s rainforest is being decimated by a vast army of homesteaders, farmers, ranchers and corporate interests that include large scale mining and intensive farming. Drilling and mining leave scars, and farmers find that raising crops quickly exhausts the thin soil of cleared forest land.  Many farmers merely abandon their plots and clear new ones.  The cultivation of crop production leaves rivers polluted with chemicals.  The extraction of gold and other metals fouls waterways with mercury and other toxins used in processing.

Today, scarcely twenty years since the intensification of the development of the rainforest, it has shrunk to 88% of its original size.  It is estimated that each second, an area the size of a football field is destroyed, adding to the daily toll of approximately fifty thousand acres.  In one year, an area the size of Italy is decimated and made uninhabitable to nearly all forms of life.  Already thousands of plant and animal species about whom little was known have been irrevocably lost to the bulldozer, the chain saw and to the slash and burn methods employed by regional farmers, ranchers and miners.

Although its arboreal canopy reaches hundreds of feet into the air, the rainforest and its groves of giant trees are in fact rooted in very shallow soil and exist in a fragile balance.  The rainforest experiences an abbreviated life cycle in which the creation of top soil is bypassed through the efficient decomposing activities of tropical bacteria and fungi.  Rather than collecting in the soil, the nutrients are absorbed by the trees.  A layer of nutrient-poor soil in the rainforest is generally less than four inches deep.  Unlike other forests around the world, the rainforest once disturbed, cannot renew itself, remaining instead a barren sandy wasteland subject to erosion.

At the current rate of destruction, parts of the Amazon promise to turn into great stretches of desert within our lifetime.  The repercussions of this activity are global.  As the rainforest gets smaller, it is less able to supply the world with much needed oxygen or to absorb as much carbon dioxide contributing to global warming and the greenhouse effect.  The burning forest adds even more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere jeopardizing the stability of ecosystems worldwide.

Given the immense size of the Amazon Rainforest and it’s unimaginable bio-diversity, we have just begun to scratch the surface of the solutions residing within. If we can find cures for cancer, malaria, polyurethane waste and more; perhaps it holds the ability to cure the incomprehensible problem we face today of plastic fragments choking our oceans? What other mysteries lie hidden within the green foliage and moist soil?

Biodegradable Packaging-Nature Does it, We Should Too!

It dawned on me the other day when I was peeling a banana that nature uses its own “packaging” to protect food based material.  Yes I am talking about the banana peel as the example.   It seems as though a Banana will spoil within almost an hour when unpeeled, but if left in its peel (packaging) it will be protected for weeks being off the tree.

We peel oranges, bananas, corn etc. all paralleling the value ENSO plastics brings to the market.  The phrase, “nature does not produce anything that it cannot then break back down into its basic components” is so perfectly illustrated in this banana peel example.  Anyone will tell you, that when a banana peel is discarded in nature, they feel it will biodegrade (and I would also bet most would additionally picture someone slipping and landing on their backside because of a discarded Banana peel).

Nature accomplishes this miraculous process through the relentless activity of microorganisms designed to eat anything that has carbon available to “eat”.  Fruit, vegetables, leaves, meat etc. are just a few examples of the millions of items that are produced by nature, which will break back down into its basic microscopic components through the process nature provides.  These microbes are found everywhere, in fact there are more microbes found in a tablespoon of soil than inhabitants on the Earth.  Microbes are commonly known in high colony activity known as mold or fungus.

This nature produced packaging is a perfect parallel to what ENSO packaging is doing.  We see that we can initiate microbes to start the eating process of our treated plastic because they detect highly attractive food substances in our additive.  Once they begin to consume the additive, their digestive process, or enzymatic response, expands to consume the whole of the plastic and the additive.

This feature of our plastic working in harmony with nature is at the heart of our message to the world.  We can do things differently than we have in the past, and break out of “status quo”.  We can embrace innovation to foster change, and work with nature as opposed to working against nature.  The rewards overpower the downside when evaluated.  The upside to utilizing ENSO is growing in its understanding and impact.  Weather it is for a business wanting growth for doing the right thing, or the environmental impact of plastic on our planet, ENSO is here to help be a part of creating lasting, positive change.

During this New Year, we want to acknowledge those who are active in this change by utilizing ENSO material as part of their environmental mission.  In some instances, change has required courage and passion.  Anything worth-while has had to pass through the “growing pains” of society; hopefully those who have converted to ENSO has had more “growing” than they have had “pains”.  But in any event, the issue is too great, and the opportunity too real for anyone to not stand up and demand more.  So we want to invite others to create change for this New Year; to create a distinct legacy-whatever your position is at your company.  We invite those making key decisions for materials at their company to stand up and create change. We invite those who need to learn more about ENSO to make the decision to open their minds and get educated-misunderstanding or ignorance is part of the problem we face as a society, education can open up so many possibilities.  We invite all to hold ENSO to higher standard as well, and develop more information and answers to new questions and applications.  I hope everyone has a New Year’s resolution to be actively engaged in positive change to our environment, and elevate the status quo at your company/position to a new level of reality; even a higher standard.  We live in exciting times where someday I hope all of us can look back and say, “I was part of that great change in the market.”


ENSO Plastics Brings Legitimacy to a Young Market

We all know that the biodegradable plastics industry is just in its infancy.  What many might not be aware of is all of the “back end” work that ENSO has been doing for the market.  ENSO Plastics is doing many things to provide value to the plastics industry as it applies to the environment.  Offering solutions for plastic to serve its useful life, and once disposed of be valuable both as recycled material and within landfill environments, is part of the big picture.  ENSO also provides market value and legitimacy in ways unlike typical corporate organizations and much more as a not for profit, or NGO.

ENSO has an environmental mission that remains pure throughout our business activity.  Part of the mission requires us to honestly look at the REAL impacts of our activity and integrate REAL solutions.  We realize the need to foster legitimacy in our industry that will be of benefit to not only our customers; but to the market as a whole, and even our competitors.  We believe that just “slinging” product for the sake of profit is not being a responsible steward of our environment, and is culturally at odds with the way we feel here at ENSO.  We are in this to change the way the plastics industry and consumers alike view and treat plastic.

In creating this monumental change in such a vast industry, like plastic, there is a massive amount of education and legitimate data that needs to be presented.  Unfortunately, there is the fact that traditional business is done with the idea that competition does not want anyone else to succeed.  Because of this dynamic new industry and its complexities, ENSO is doing things non-traditionally and has seen the needs of the market and responded appropriately.

We have brought together the world’s top experts in different fields of science to bring the most compelling and comprehensive data collecting to help foster the growth of this particular industry, and to bring value to brands and manufacturing all the way to the end consumer.  All in an effort to further the knowledge and acceptance of what we consider to be a “turn in the traditional plastics market”.  Bringing together top polymer and engineering scientists like Georgia Tech’s Research Institute (GRTI) Materials Center; as well as the University of North Carolina State, and the Department of Civil, Construction, & Environmental Engineering is only part of the effort ENSO has undergone to develop the understanding and education of our marketplace and its regulating bodies.  Much of this effort is ongoing as this technology is new, and more applications will bring new questions specific to its market.

The important precept ENSO Plastics takes very seriously is that in order to go to market with a product, credible and repeatable scientific data needs to be the foundation of all innovation.  Second to that precept is the need for the innovation itself to be a major positive for the environment.  Without these two keys, a product is only interested in one thing – taking advantage of environmental marketing opportunities with no positive impact on the environment; in other words, GREEN WASHING.

Having the support and “backing” of world class institutions and experts in their fields eliminates these basic concerns; as these entities will not stand for anything other than scientific truth.  The market is full of political and personal manipulation, seeking only to bring certain products to market, while attempting to discredit or eliminate others from the market.  ENSO is set apart from this kind of business model by only seeking credible, non-biased individuals and institutions to work with.  This is a higher standard that state and federal regulators have to appreciate because the industry does not get more knowledgeable, independent and credible than the world’s leading experts.  -Del Andrus

Toyota Using Sugar Cane Bio-Plastics To Replace Oil-based Plastics


Toyota, who has long been experimenting with the use of bio-plastics in vehicle production, is now using a newly developed bio-plastic derived from sugar cane in its Japanese-market Sai Hybrid Sedan.

Originally released with 60 percent of its exposed interior surfaces made from bio-plastics, the new model, to be released on November 1, will have no less than 80 percent of its interior exposed surfaces – including seats – made from the new sugar-based bio-material.

The new bio-plastic is employed in high-use areas such as the seat trim and carpets. Toyota testing confirms that it matches petroleum-derived plastics for durability and cost, while outperforming other bio-plastics for heat-resistance, durability and shrink-resistance.

Toyota developed its bio-polyethylene terephthalate (bio-PET) by replacing monoethylene glycol (commonly used in PET manufacture) with a biological raw material derived from sugar cane.

It may not be commonly known, but the manufacture of the Lexus CT200h achieved a world-first when bio-PET ecological plastic (derived from plants) was employed in its boot lining.