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Politics What’s

Politics What’s happening in the Article contributed by Steven Mojo, Executive Director of the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), New York, NY, USA It is truly a new world in North America, as the pace of organics diversion continues to increase. Discussions around the issues of sustainability, increasing use of renewable resources and greenhouse gas reductions are coming to the forefront. Retailer Concerns about Packaging In late 2005, Wal-Mart announced its sustainability drive focused on three aggressive goals: 1. “To Be Supplied 100% By Renewable Energy”: 2. ”To Create Zero Waste”: 3. ”To Sell Products That Sustain Our Resources & Environment”: As part of this effort, Wal-Mart has developed a “scorecard” for packaging and is asking suppliers to document the use of recyclable and compostable packaging (via ASTM D6400) and to verify the use of renewable feedstocks (using ASTM D6866). This scorecard came on-line in March 2007 and manufacturers will be feeding it data throughout this year. Wal-Mart’s efforts, like Sainsbury’s in the UK, call attention to the growing array of new materials available to packagers around the globe. At the same time, packagers are starting to inquire about BPI certification and the benefits of the BPI Compostable Logo. Also, manufacturers are striving to increase the percentage of renewably based materials, in order to help reduce their environmental footprint and earn credits from Wal-Mart. The BPI and its members are immersed in the issues of renewable resources, compostability and biodegradability for almost a decade. As such, they are in a position to help Wal-Mart and others understand the importance of using ASTM Test Methods and Specifications for verifying claims. This project is a “work in progress”. It will continue to evolve as technology and properties improve and importantly will impact suppliers, consumers and everyone in between. 30 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/07] Vol. 2

New World? New Legislation in California California continues to set the pace in the area of compostables. Last year, Governor Schwarzenegger signed labeling legislation which restricts the use of the terms “biodegradable”, “compostable” and “degradable” on plastic food containers to only those products that meet ASTM D6400. This legislation is similar to the one passed in 2004 for labelling on plastic bags. Both of the new laws are designed to address the abuse and misuse of these terms and the resulting confusion. New Ordinances in San Francisco In 2006, San Francisco passed ordinance No 295-06 which bans the use of polystyrene food service packaging and mandates the use of compostable or recyclable alternatives, if their additional costs are within 15% of non-compostable or non-recyclable alternatives. This ordinance is designed to help minimize the waste going to landfills from these operations. Also, this ordinance takes advantage of the City’s well developed recycling and composting infrastructure for businesses and households. On March 27, 2007, San Francisco passed an ordinance mandating the use of compostable plastic bags or recyclable kraft paper bags by large food chains and pharmacies. Given the city’s widespread organic collection system, the compostable bags can serve two purposes. First they will bring home the groceries and then will have a second life as a liner for residential “kitchen catchers”. The new law takes effect by the end of this year. Food Scrap Diversion Programs Grow More communities, especially in Eastern Canada and on the West Coast are implementing food scrap diversion efforts. Portland (Oregon) and Seattle (Washington), join the ranks of San Francisco and Oakland, (California) in implementing commercial collection programs and in some communities’ residential ones as well. In the Canadian province of Ontario organics diversion efforts are beginning to “skyrocket” according to one BPI member. These are driven by the dual goals of continuing to increase the overall diversion rate from landfills as well as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from landfills. For example, in the US, landfills are the single largest of anthropomorphic methane releases into the atmosphere, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. Further the same study shows that landfills are the number 4 contributor of global warming gases. introduced The BPI and BioCycle magazine from Emmaus (Pennsylvania) are joint sponsors of a new website dedicated to increasing the awareness of composting in the US. The new site “” was debuted in April 2007 at the BioCycle West Coast Conference in San Diego (California). The site will provide consumers information about food scrap collection programs near them and will be available for all to use at no charge. Composters can participate at no cost and all entries will be verified by BioCycle. The BPI and its members are proud to be the first sponsor to support this effort and to help put composting on the map. The BPI and BEPS team up on a meeting in October, 2007 The BEPS and BPI are jointly sponsoring a conference from Oct. 17-19th in Vancouver, Washington. This meeting will combine presentations and discussions on biodegradable and renewable materials from both academia and industry. Presenters are being lined up from North America, Europe and Asia. The conference will be a “zero waste” event. It is being held at the Hilton Hotel, which has been cited for sustainable practices and it will have an active food scrap diversion effort by the end of the summer. Learn more about the conference at bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/07] Vol. 2 31

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