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bioplasticsMAGAZINE_0602

Politics ment, along

Politics ment, along with Agriculture and AgriFood Canada (another Federal ministry). Compost falling under Category A can be used in any application, whereas compost under Category B is restricted in use because of the higher trace element content. Some of these elements are used in the formulation of pro-oxidants in certain types of degradable plastics. Meeting the requirements In Canada, one of the easiest ways for suppliers of degradable products to validate the environmental claims of their products is through certification by a recognized third-party. This third party will study the technical information submitted regarding the characteristics of the product and then rule on whether or not the product meets the requirements for the stated application. The most commonly used standards for compostable plastics are ASTM 6400, ISO 14855-1 and NF 13432. If the product is deemed satisfactory, then it becomes licensed to bear a symbol attesting to that fact. In the U.S., the most common symbol for a compostable plastic is the one issued by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), (see page 36 in this issue of bioplastics MAGAZINE). The Canadian alternative Canada has a long history and highly developed structure for writing national standards and certification. It is administered by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC), which accredits bodies involved with standards writing, certification and testing. Due to the increased concern regarding the use of plastic bags in municipal composting facilities, the certification agency known as the Bureau de Normalisation du Québec (BNQ) has launched the development of its own certification program for compostable plastics. The development of the protocol for this certification program is being overseen by a balanced committee made up of suppliers, converters, users, etc. CPIA is represented on this committee by a Technical Advisor from its Environment and Plastics Industry Council (EPIC). The protocol will be based on existing standards, including ASTM 6400, with particular requirements including trace elements and compostability (degradation/disintegration, biodegradation and bioplastics [06/02] Vol. 1 25

Politics eco-toxicity). Those plastic bags which meet the protocol will be assigned a BNQ mark or symbol to attest to their compostability. The BNQ program is expected to be a national one that will harmonize with other certification programs, such as the American BPI one. A probable outcome of the program may be that Canadian municipalities will accept only certified compostable plastics in their composting programs. Degradable bags and recycling Many Canadians currently have access to plastic bag recycling through either in-store recycling programs or in municipal curbside collection programs. In fact, recyclable plastic bags and film represents about 20 to 25% of the entire plastic waste stream in Canada. These plastic bags and films are recycled into trash bags, new carry-out sacks or are used to produce plastic lumber and plastic fibre composites. The increased interest in compostable bags has raised the concern for what, if any, will be the effect of compostable bags on the already established plastic bag and film recycling stream. A testing program has been launched to investigate this. The test is being supported by Recyc- Québec (a quasi-governmental agency), the City of Montreal (population of over two million), the Canadian Oxo-degradable Plastics Institute (OPI) and the Plastic Film Manufacturers Association of Canada (a council of CPIA). The testing will see various percentages of oxo-degradable and hydro-degradable (certified compostable) bags mixed separately with conventional polyethylene bags. This mixture will then be re-extruded into film and plaques, which will be aged under specific conditions of moisture, temperature and ultra-violet light for various time intervals. Upon completion of the aging process, the material’s physical properties will be measured (tensile, impact, notched izod, etc.). The results attained will be compared to the results achieved from conventional materials. This testing is expected to be completed by late fall 2006, with the results published before year end. (Check the EPIC web site at www.plastics.ca/epic for the posting of these results.) Degradable plastics and litter Although there has been some interest in promoting degradable plastics as a means of dealing with litter, CPIA believes that litter is a behavioural problem and not a material-specific one. Waste audits have shown that plastic bags represent a very small percentage of litter – less than one per cent. That, coupled with the fact that Canada experiences very cold temperatures in the winter months where not much of anything has a chance to degrade, has led the CPIA to promote education as a means of changing people’s behaviour and combating the litter problem. In summary The interest in Canada in using compostable plastic bags in municipal composting facilities is on the rise. And, with more and more Canadian municipalities encouraging their residents to continue to divert waste from landfill and participate in municipal composting programs, this interest is expected to continue to rise in the months and years ahead. 26 bioplastics [06/02] Vol. 1

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