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Issue 06/2017

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Automotive 10 Years ago

Automotive 10 Years ago Special Published in bioplastics MAGAZINE Article contributed by Christian Garaffa, Marketing Department, Project Manager Waste Management Area. A fter Ireland, San Francisco and Oakland in California, Modbury in Britain, the debate on disposable carrier bags has recently moved to London. Many other countries and cities are looking to introduce or already have some form of ban, tax, levy or some voluntary agreement on throwaway shopping bags (e.g. France or Italy). The question is always the same: how to manage the environmental issue posed by non biodegradable carrier bags? The common logic permeating the different choices is always the one dictated by the waste hierarchy: prevent, reuse, recover, dispose of. Factors like an intensive communication to the consumers and the introduction of reusable bags “for life” which can be used for several times before they are finally thrown away or given back to the store, are an essential part of this schemes. Compostable shopping carrier bags: what is the logic for their contribution to the environment? How do compostable carrier bags place themselves into this picture? Compostable carriers can actually be a powerful aid to waste minimization and recovery policies especially there were organic waste collection schemes are to be set up or are already in place. In order for such schemes to be successful they must be hygienic for both consumer and collection crews and be as convenient as possible. The best way to ensure both these criteria is for consumers to line their kitchen caddy with a compostable liner which can then be tied and placed in the larger container. Using liners in this fashion not only keeps the system clean and hygienic from kitchen to collection to treatment facility, but by being simple to use, they also lead to higher levels of participation and subsequently greater amounts of food waste are recovered and less material is landfilled. A proper communication and the possibility for the householder to easily identify the compostable bags are completing the picture for this kind of schemes which are able to recover as much as 90% of the kitchen organics present in the household waste. In November 2017, Christian Garaffa, Novamont says: Since 10 years ago, Europe is now talking about circular economy and making efforts to make it really happen. Italy was the first Member State to adopt a single use plastic bag ban in 2011 promoting reusable bags but also allowing shopping bags certified to EN13432 for reuse in the organic waste collection. At EU level in 2015 a new Directive set targets to reduce the current level of consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags (Directive (EU) 2015/720). It also addresses biodegradable and compostable plastic carrier bags, recognizing as a matter of fact the value of such bags for re-use in organic waste collection. The directive was also a door opener for further legislation at Member State level such as France imposing fresh produce bags to be compostable in 2017 and Italy to follow suit in 2018. From 1 January 2020 also Spain will allow only compostable carrier bags and fresh produce bags. The city of Milan is the perfect example of the role played by compostable shopping bags as a key tool for high participation and capture rates of biowaste: 70 kilograms per person per year of just residential food scraps are being collected. At the beginning of this year the EU Commission issued a Communication on the role of waste-to-energy in the circular economy, COM(2017) 34, stating that “since 2014, the city has almost reached 100 % collection of food and organic waste, providing an average of 120.000 tonnes of biodegradable waste per year. At full capacity (12.8 MW), the city biogas plant should produce some 35.880 MWh of electricity a year, enough to supply 24.000 people, and yield 14.400 tonnes of fertiliser.” These figures are unmatched by far by any other large European city and compostable plastic bags are the standard tool to collect these food scraps and every second compostable bag found in the waste analyses is a shopping bag. In conclusion, after then years the compostable bioplastic shopping bag model has scaled up and supports the best performing organic waste collection systems in Europe. A perfect example of real circular economy. 20 bioplastics MAGAZINE [07/04] Vol. 2 56 bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/17] Vol. 12

Report Bioplastics Survey By: Michael Thielen In this edition of our “Special focus on certain geographical areas” series, we take a closer look at France and Italy. To that end, we once again conducted the short, non-representative survey we used in previous editions to attempt to gain an idea of people’s notions and perception of bioplastics in these countries. In this sixth edition of the series, we visited an attractive plaza in a pedestrian area in the centre of Strasbourg in France. We approached a (non-representative) number of passers-by and asked whether they would be willing to answer a few brief questions. Of those we interviewed, 47.8 % were male and 52.2 % were female. About 60.9 % were aged between 20 and 40, while 39.1 % were between the ages of 40 and 60. This represents the average distribution of people browsing this plaza on a sunny, but chilly Thursday morning in October. When asked whether they knew what bioplastics were, almost 40 % responded that yes, they did (and had no difficulties in proving this, as they went on to mention aspects such as biobased origin and/or biodegradable features). Like all previous surveys in this series, the other 60 % was interested in learning about what bioplastics were. And after a brief explanation about the features and benefits, most seemed convinced that bioplastics were beneficial for the environment and for the climate. Strikingly, however, we found the French people we spoke to that morning were rather more differentiated than we had hitherto experienced in the other countries, and this yielded a number of very intense discussions. Two young female students, in particular, were highly reluctant to agree to the fact that there might be benefits to opting for bioplastics. The first argued about fertilizers and solvents, and the energy needed to produce bioplastics, while the second merely said: “We recycle and that’s good enough”. Happily, in other conversations we found that some of the people were really interested: they asked questions about availability, the processes that take place during composting and much more. They seemed to have time, the sun was shining and it was a nice area … Finally, we also asked all our interviewees whether they would buy products made of bioplastics, if they should happen to see them on display at the store. 91.3 % confirmed that they would. And – no surprise after the abovementioned discussions – 13 % said that they would not be willing to pay more for such products, with most of the other 87 % responding: “a little more, yes” or “it depends on the product”. What is paradoxical is that even in a country where, today, the use of biodegradable shopping bags is mandatory, some 60 % of our non-representative choice of people knew little to nothing about or were unaware of bioplastics and their potential. And again, the results of this survey reveal that, given the knowledge and the chance, many consumers would opt for products using bioplastics and even be willing to pay a small premium. This indicates an obvious need for comprehensive end consumer education. Consumer behaviour can have a significant impact on the ways products affect the environment. Educating consumers about bioplastics offers a huge opportunity to promote these materials and to effect positive changes in the shopping choices people make. female 20-40 years 40-60 years Do you know what bioplastics are? Would you buy? Would you pay more? male YES 39,1% NO 60,9% YES 91,3% NO 8,7% YES 87% NO 13% 47,6% 55% 50% 55,6% 52,4% 45% 50% 44,4% 44,4% 55,6% 71,4% 28,6% 54% 46% 100% 100% 60% 40% 66,7% 33,3% 33,3% 66,7% bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/17] Vol. 12 57

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