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Issue 02/2016

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  • Bioplastics
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Marine pollution /

Marine pollution / Marine degradation Trash is mobile OK biodegradable MARINE certification By: Petra Michiels Contract Manager Vinçotte Vilvoorde, Belgium If gravity would not exist Trash is mobile. Certainly plastic items are usually very light and are transported by rivers and winds. Gravity brings garbage down to the sea level. If gravity would not exist, the floating trash islands at sea would not have grown to such vast extensions. The cause of marine debris is mainly located at land. Depending on the literature, land based sources account for 60 to 90 % of marine litter globally. Solving a problem by tackling its root is always more effective than just fighting its symptoms. Therefore the solution for marine debris has to be sought mostly at land. Prevention and remediation When it comes to solving problems, of whatever kind, this can be done either before the problem occurs: by prevention, or afterwards, by remediation. In the case of marine debris, prevention can be stimulated by market instruments such as subsidies or oppositely taxes, or a legal ban of certain materials. Also communication and education can change attitudes regarding litter. Any litter that is avoided, whether it is high in the mountains, in cities or at the sea shores, helps against the marine debris problem. Remediation is the removal of garbage. This can be done by active human intervention. Or if a material is biodegradable in a marine environment, it disappears without further interaction needed. Dread in perspective Marine biodegradable products are a very sensitive topic. The perceived dread is that it could accidently encourage people to litter at sea. However, this perception is based on the idea that marine debris is mainly created at sea. And also on the thought that people would indeed increase their littering when they know a product biodegrades. These are assumptions that need to be put in perspective. Scope of products When launching the OK biodegradable MARINE certification system in March 2015, the risk of misunderstandings amongst consumers was treated with high priority. Therefore in this certification system, a clear distinction is made between: (1) the certification of the claim of marine biodegradation and (2) the authorization to communicate about this certification. Only for a very limited group of products, authorization to communicate on the product about the OK biodegradable MARINE certificate is allowed. It concerns products that are actually used – and therefore unavoidably spilled – in the marine environment (e. g. fishing line, fishing baits, cull panel, etc.). For these products, marine biodegradability can actually be a real interest to their consumers. Mentioning the OK biodegradable MARINE logo on all other products that could possibly encourage the customer to marine littering is not allowed. For these products marine biodegradability is an unknown functionality with an intrinsic added value: if it inadvertently ends up in the marine environment, it will be utilized by microorganisms. Verification of the claim Marine biodegradability is an added value to any product or packaging regardless of where it is consumed. The chance that it eventually ends up at sea will always exist. Any supplier who invests in adding this functionality to his product or packaging should have the opportunity to have this information verified according to international standards. This 22 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/16] Vol. 11

Marine pollution / Marine degradation verification is not only a reference to harmonize the claim but also offers the supplier the opportunity to distinguish his truly marine biodegradable product from any doubtful claim of his competitors. Therefore there is a need for a neutral verification system of the claim of marine biodegradability. In March 2015 Vinçotte has launched the OK biodegradable MARINE certification system. Before a product can be certified, it is tested in four different ways, based on the following standards: • biodegradation: measured by oxygen consumption or CO 2 production: OECD 306, ISO 16221, ASTM D6691 • ecotoxicity: water quality is measured on aquatic organisms (daphnids, fish, algea, cyanobacteria, … according to the relevant OECD standards or OPPTS documents) • disintegration: in lack of an international standard, a set of requirements (delay, temperature, replicates, pass levels, …) is developed specifically for the OK biodegradable MARINE certification in cooperation with international experts • limits of heavy metals and fluor content: ISO 17088, and a limit for cobalt as defined in ASTM D6400 To conclude It is hard to tell which remedy will be proven to be most effective against marine debris. Trash that has the inherent capacity of disappearing without human intervention is without no doubt a plus. Having said this, negative side effects e. g. possible confusion of consumers must not be overlooked. However the need for a unique verification system in order to avoid all sorts of claims regarding marine biodegradability is not in dispute. organized by supported by 20. - 22.10.2016 Messe Düsseldorf, Germany Bioplastics in Packaging BIOPLASTICS BUSINESS BREAKFAST B 3 PLA, an Innovative Bioplastic Bioplastics in Durable Applications Subject to changes Call for Papers now open Contact: Dr. Michael Thielen ( At the World‘s biggest trade show on plastics and rubber: K‘2016 in Düsseldorf bioplastics will certainly play an important role again. On three days during the show from Oct 20 - 22, 2016 bioplastics MAGAZINE will host a Bioplastics Business Breakfast: From 8 am to 12 noon the delegates get the chance to listen and discuss highclass presentations and benefit from a unique networking opportunity. The trade fair opens at 10 am. bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/16] Vol. 11 23

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