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Plastics For Your Future

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dear Editorial readers Travelling is usually fun and interesting, at least for me. However, being absent from the office always runs the risk of finding a huge pile of work on the desk, waiting to be done, when returning. However, during the last few weeks it was worth it. At conferences in Orlando, Brussels and Cologne I made some very good new contacts and renewed a lot of valued old contacts, and the visit to the composting plant in Dortmund was very informative. In the course of preparing the material on ‘End of Life Options’ and ‘Industrial Composting’ I held some lengthy discussions with different experts. Now, my personal opinion at this time is as follows: As for all plastics, including bioplastics, the 3R-Rule (or one of the several variants) should be applied: Reduce – Re-use – Recycle. This includes to re-use and to recycle as often as possible. Where, and as long as, the volumes are too small to allow specific collection, separation and recycling of bioplastics, or where contamination is too high for recycling, incineration with energy recovery is a favourable option. At the Technical University of Aachen, Germany, many years ago my Professor Menges said to us (talking about traditional plastics of course): “plastics contain borrowed energy”. And this is also absolutely true for bioplastics. Composting, in my opinion, is a very good, new and additional end-of-life option for bioplastics in cases where it really brings additional benefits. Examples are compostable shopping bags that can be used for the collection of compostable kitchen waste, compostable bioplastic tableware and cutlery for events, fast food, catering or canteens. Another good example is the packaging of fruit and vegetables, which means that the contents can be disposed of together with the packaging if they are spoilt or are out of date. Mulch film or tomato clips to support the climbing of tomatoes in greenhouses, both offering the benefit of significantly reducing disposal cost, are examples from agri/horticulture. And there are many more such examples. I know that this is a controversial topic and so I gladly solicit other opinions to be published in bioplastics MAGAZINE, be it as a ‘Letter to the Editor’ or an article in the ‘Opinion’ rubric. Now – let’s talk about the other editorial focus in this issue of bioplastics MAGAZINE. Beauty, healthcare and hygiene are areas where, when developing new products, more and more attention is given to natural based ingredients. The companies marketing such products are also starting to look closely at the packaging material, and also sometimes the product itself if made of plastic, with the idea of using plastics based on renewable resources. Take a look at the following pages … I hope you enjoy reading this issue of bioplastics MAGAZINE and look forward to comments, opinions or contributions. Yours, Michael Thielen bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/09] Vol. 4

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