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bioplasticsMAGAZINE_0703

Basics A certain number

Basics A certain number of products made from bioplastics are already on the market. Almost all of them are labelled with some kind of a logo that tells the consumer about the special character of the plastic material used. In this series of articles these logos and their background are introduced by bioplasticsMAGAZINE. Here we will address such questions as: What is the origin and history of a logo? What does it mean? Which type of legislation or regulation is it concerned with? Logos Part 5: Waste Bags Misc. Civil Eng. 11% GreenPla Logo & Agricultural 17% 38% Packaging Labelling System “GreenPla” logo of the Japan BioPlastics Association (JBPA) Printing Textile Daily Goods Food Ware Shopping Bags 13% Stationary In Japan biodegradable plastics are called „GreenPla“, and there is a GreenPla Identification and Labelling System established in June 2000 by the JBPA (formerly BPS) to distinguish biodegradable plastics from ordinary plastics. Plastic products that meet certification standards for product composition, biodegradability, environmental safety, etc., will be certified as GreenPla products. GreenPla as described here means a substance or a product consisting of biodegradable organic components that may be degraded by microorganisms in a natural environment and may finally be decomposed to carbon dioxide and water. The utilization of biodegradable plastics is one of the key issues to promote the establishment of a sustainably based society and JBPA has been making various efforts to promote the popularization and the business development of biodegradable plastic products. Most of the products made from biodegradable plastics look like their counterparts made from conventional plastics. And clear differentiation and recognition by everybody is most required to encourage the popularization of biodegradable plastics. The special properties of biodegradability can be displayed and be recognized by the presence of the “GreenPla“ logo on the products itself or the package of the products. JBPA has been operating the GreenPla identification and labelling system for more than seven years and the number of registered GreenPla products now exceeds 800. Especially in agricultural and horticultural use and civil engineering, the GreenPla logo is recognized as the certificate of reliable, eco-friendly products which can utilize biodegradability as one of the main product performances. The GreenPla Identification and labelling system is based on • A positive list system for all components of the products • Biodegradability specification based on Japanese and international standard analytical methods • A safety certificate for all components and no hazardous effect to the soil even after biodegradation Registered products in the GreenPla logo system The distribution of registered products is shown in the pie chart. Besides the products for which biodegradability is a key requirement, such as films for agricultural use or waste bag applications, about two thirds of the registered products are general packaging, stationery and broad general applications which are recognized as environmentally friendly even at the waste stage, as they can be finally bio-recycled to carbon dioxide and water and will not leave permanent plastic waste in the natural environment. Global harmonization To proceed with global harmonization JBPA (formerly BPS) established a co-operation with BPI (USA) and DIN CERTCO (EU) in 2001 and with BMG (China) in 2004. JBPA will continue to establish co-operation with other Asian countries. www.jbpaweb.net 38 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/07] Vol. 2

Article contributed by Gaëlle Janssens, Prevention & R&D Manager FOST Plus, Brussels, Belgium Opinion Careful use of terms Gaëlle Janssens like “Biodegradable and compostable” In the world of packaging, bioplastics are one of the most exiting innovations. The consumers seem motivated for “greener“ shopping and like the idea of biopackaging… . But they are very confused: in a recent consumer survey in Belgium, to the question “what is a biopackaging?”, the majority would answer “a packaging that is better for the environment”. A quite broad concept. When prompted further, most consumers (62%) are driven by motivations related to renewable resources– reduce CO 2 emissions, promote local agriculture and use renewable resources. But even though it may have nothing to do with it, the word used by the consumers, as well as the by industry, to name a renewable resource based packaging is ‘biodegradable packaging’. The big problem with the word biodegradable is that it may lead to problems of litter: 27% of the consumers agree that “you can throw away biodegradable packaging into the environment and it will disappear without any human help”. It is interesting to note that, to avoid this problem, Belgian law will forbid the use of the term ‘biodegradable’ on packaging. An interesting suggestion for the rest of Europe or even for all of the countries in the world? Another problem is that a ‘biodegradable’ packaging supposes an end-of-life treatment, which is, for most of the people, obviously compost. This is not a problem for home compostable packaging, except for the understanding of the logo: for 73% of the consumers, a ‘compostable’ logo means they may dispose of the packaging in their garden compost… and they will still see it 2 years later! Let’s change the logo to avoid confusion and use ‘compostable’ only for ‘home compostable’ and ‘industrially compostable’ for packaging that needs a high degradation temperature, moisture and certain microorganisms. Regarding industrially compostable packaging, only very few consumers worldwide have access to organic waste collection and, when they do have access, packaging is generally not welcome (risk of pollution with conventional plastic and strict norms). As green consumers watch very closely the claims of green marketing, the risk of negative publicity is very high if ‘compostable’ is used without any composting solution. By the way, the composting property may be very interesting in some industrial applications, where communication to the consumer is not needed – tomato clips, organic waste from distributors, medical ties,… The option of incineration is considered by more and more producers as the most ecological solution as it produces energy, but the infrastructure has to exist locally. Landfill doesn’t meet the composting condition in terms of oxygen, humidity and micro-organisms. As we can see, the end-of-life treatment is certainly not so obvious! So, as long as no industrial composting solution exists for the majority of citizens, and as long as compost is not proved to be the best local end-of-life treatment for packaging, we should communicate about compostability only in the case of home compostable packaging and concentrate communication on renewable resources, which is tomorrow’s biggest issue. Therefore, the industry should develop a new, recognized certification and an easily marketable name. www.fostplus.be bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/07] Vol. 2 39

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