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News European Parliament

News European Parliament (ENVI Committee) vote paves way for compostable plastic bags On March 11 the European Parliament Environment Committee clearly voiced its support for decisive steps to reduce the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags in Europe. European Bioplastics supports the outcome of the vote, and the new provisions on biodegradable and compostable plastic carrier bags. François de Bie, Chairman of European Bioplastics, commented: “We are very glad to see provisions that acknowledge the important contribution that biodegradable and compostable plastic bags can make to enhanced biowaste collection across the EU. Biodegradable bags that are EN13432 compliant can help Member States to reduce landfilling by diverting biowaste from landfill to organic recycling. We now call on the Council of the European Union to support the provisions taken up by the Parliament and recognise the value that biodegradable plastic bags offer to European society”. The report exempts very lightweight carrier bags (below 10 micron thickness) from the scope of any measures and requires their progressive replacement with biodegradable and compostable bags. It also allows Member States with existing separate collection of biowaste to reduce the price of biodegradable and compostable lightweight carrier bags by up to 50 percent. MT PHA for automotive interiors Magna International Inc. (Troy, Michigan, USA), a leading global automotive supplier, and bio-on, an Italian intellectual property company, have signed a cooperation agreement to start exclusive R&D activities on the use of bio plastics for the automotive industry. bio-on has developed a new kind of PHA made by naturally occurring bacteria using sugar beet by-products, thus they do not rely on food as a resource. The material could provide alternatives to conventional plastics for the automotive industry. Even if not of any significance for automotive applications in the first place, the companies informed that the resins are fully biodegradable in water and soil. Magna, through its Interiors operating unit, is pairing its automotive know-how with bio-on’s chemical expertise to research how production of this natural polyester product can be elevated to an industrial, cost-effective scale. Additionally, the two companies will test and evaluate how bio-on bio plastics will perform in different standard industry processes such as thermoforming. Magna Interiors will utilize its facility in Liberec, Czech Republic, for joint testing. “Our material has already demonstrated great potential in diverse industries and we now want to apply it to the automotive sector as well,” says Marco Astorri , CEO and cofounder of bio-on. “Through this partnership, bio-on hopes to contribute significantly to meeting the global need for a greener future mobility, with lower environmental impact.” “As a leading global automotive supplier, Magna is leveraging its manufacturing expertise to partner with bio-on to deliver a potential game-changing innovation to the industry,” said Albert Lidauer, President Magna Interiors Global. “We are excited about the possibilities this cooperation offers us to further support our customers in pursuit of environmentally friendly vehicles.” MT 6 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/14] Vol. 9

News Marine biodegradation tests for Mater-Bi Not only due to the omnipresent discussions about the pacific garbage patch the biodegradability of certain bioplastics in the sea — so called marine degradability — is on almost everyone’s lips. After thoroughly investigating biodegradability and compostability in industrial composting environments, under home composting conditions and in soil, the focus of scientists involved in the biodegradability of plastics became focused on marine biodegradation. It soon became clear that the biodegradation behaviour of biodegradable plastics is quite different in different habitats. Biodegradation in free water (the so called “pelagic zone”), where the microbial density is low, can be very retarded. On the other hand, habitats such as the sea bottom and the beaches result to be quite active in biodegradation. This led to the development of specific test methods to measure biodegradation in conditions simulating these habitats. The effort to validate new test methods is high and, in particular, the field studies in the seas require specific knowledge and equipment and is by far more complicated than a biodegradation test in soil or in a backyard composter. The subject of marine biodegradability of bio-based products is now tackled with an higher deployment of resources thanks to European Project Open-Bio [1] co-financed by the European Commission, where European scientists and institutes are cooperating in order to validate a suitable testing scheme and help the standardisation activities. Draft standards are also under discussion at ISO and ASTM level. In mid-February Novamont (Novara, Italy) announced that marine biodegradation tests overseen by the Italian Institute of Plastics (IIP) show that the fourth generation biodegradable plastic Mater-Bi ® has achieved biodegradation of over 80% in around 220 days. The laboratory tests simulate the environmental conditions of the sea bed and the seashore, habitats where a lot of plastic waste ends up. These data confirm that compostable products also tend to biodegrade under natural conditions, such as the marine environment, over a relatively short time. MT [1] bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/14] Vol. 9 7

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