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Opinion Comments

Opinion Comments regarding Cereplasts Symbol Competition By Hasso v. Pogrell European Bioplastics European Bioplastics, in general, supports the idea of creating a logo for bioplastics for use in the US market. Eventually, if it should achieve similar recognition as the recycling symbol, it would be a boost for the entire bioplastics sector. However, there are a few issues concerning this particular competition initiated by Cereplast for a bioplastics logo that one needs to be aware of: According to the invitation to tender, bioplastics would be defined as plastics produced (in parts) of renewable raw material. Compostability and (mechanical) recyclability are seen as mere additional attributes to be displayed in respective variations of the general symbol. Given this, the question that will soon arise is: When will a product be considered to be made of bioplastics, i.e., what will the minimum share of renewable raw material have to be for a material to be defined as ‘bioplastic’? Furthermore, the details of the measurement of the biobased content are not clearly defined in the call for tender: Is the 14 C method to be used? Or is the logo aiming to display the total biomass content (like, e.g., the Coca Cola Plant Bottle)? According to the US standard ASTM 6866, both methods could be used to display the wording ‘biobased content’ on a product. The importance of the latter question should not be underestimated. Long and dynamic discussions – at least in Europe – show that both methods have their merits but also some weak points. While the radiocarbon analysis is relatively simple to conduct, it does not say anything about other possible biogenic elements, e.g. hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, etc. contained in a product. This can lead to cases, where, according to the 14 C method, the combination of a 100% biobased material with a fossil-based one will result in a product with a biobased factor far below the share of the natural material in proportion of the entire product. Not least for this reason have large brandowners decided to label the entire biomass (‘plant based’) fraction on their product instead of only the share of biobased carbon, which would reduce the displayed biobased figure. Assuming that the issue of biobased carbon vs. biomass is eventually clarified, the question will come: How is the logo awarded? Will a mere lab test be sufficient? An easy thing to do using the 14 C method, but it has the distinctive disadvantage that it lacks independent verification. Or will there be third-party certification by an audited certifying body? This approach would increase the credibility of the claim but also make the labelling system more expensive and complicated. At least in Europe, the demand for quality certification is considered to be quite high. Finally, existing labelling schemes for biobased products, including biobased plastics, have to be taken into account, e.g. the recently launched USDA label for biobased products that extends beyond the US public procurement scheme and can also be applied to a wide range of biobased products voluntarily. European Bioplastics endorses the development of communication and labelling platforms for (biobased) bioplastics in order to become more visible in the market - as a matter of fact, EuBP itself has been very active in this field. Eventually however, a common approach would be the most beneficial solution for the industry. European Bioplastics would therefore very much welcome the initiation of a stakeholder dialogue. 50 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/11] Vol. 6

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