In an increasingly disposable society there are limited solutions when it comes to sustainability and looking after our planet. Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) and Crystalised Poly Lactic Acid (CPLA) products are compostable (and technically recyclable) solutions that are a step towards a cleaner future, however, these bioplastics are only effective when disposed of properly in a home compost or composting depots.
Compostable products that aren’t disposed of properly typically end up in landfills or in recycling centres where they either are not able to breakdown properly or will compromise the quality of recycled plastics.
Making the switch to compostable products such as PLA is better for our planet with a study from 2017 determining that the switch would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75% compared to generic plastics.
While there is currently no option for bioplastic recycling within Australia, there would be tremendous benefits to a recycling program that allowed it.
It was confirmed through The Life Cycle study prepared by Fraunhofer UMSICHT that “recycling bio-plastics is environmentally beneficial”. Recycling of PLA contributes significantly to a reduction of environmental impacts, because the recycled bioplastic can be used to substitute virgin material, which hosts a list of environmentally beneficial outcomes.
The study proved that Bioplastics have a substantial economic advantage to recycling bioplastic as an alternative to generic plastics, adding that recycled bioplastic can retain approximately 50% higher yield.
The Fraunhofer UMSICHT report can be read in full here
Compostable packaging requires certain composting conditions to fully decompose. Once the compostable item has been disposed of correctly (either in a home compost or composting facility), the decomposing process will start where under the right conditions, abiotic hydrolysis will activate through a combination of heat, moisture and 60C temperatures.
For more durable and thicker PLA products such as clear PLA cold drink cups and cutlery, we highly recommend the use of industrial composting facilities. While they can break down in a home compost the process can take much longer, given the thickness and durability of the product.
New Envi have been conducting home composting break down trials, to test the suitability of our products. Our aim was to successfully capture the true break down of our products at the simplest level (home composting). To get an accurate, raw break down measurement, we did not use any composting accelerators.
Several product samples were trialed to establish which provided the fastest and most reliable break down. Our coffee cups were the standout in every test, showing signs of breakdown within a matter of days, and completely breaking down in less than 90 days. Head to our homepage to see images of this process.
It is worth noting that break down times can vary depending on the quality of the home compost.
Many of our customers have also successfully home composted the New Envi coffee cups.
At New Envi, our mission is to accelerate the innovation in biodegradable and compostable packaging industry by encouraging individuals and businesses to switch to sustainable products. We also make a commitment to educating others and demonstrating how simple changes in behaviour and choices can lead to big changes on a global level. We aim to increase awareness in our community on the effects of our modern “durable” society on the ecosystems around us. Our goal is to provide a product that is at the forefront of cutting edge technology.
GROWING AWARENESS AROUND ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION
The growing awareness around the knowledge and understanding of the environmental and health implications of single-use plastics has prompted individuals, communities and governments all over the world to take action through policy change, education and awareness.
REMOVAL OF MICROBEADS IN COSMETIC PRODUCTS In Australia, the government announced that as of April 2018, they have successfully removed 94% of microbeads from cosmetics personal care products through the implementation of a voluntary phase-out.
SINGLE-USE PLASTIC BAG BAN
In 2018, major Australian retailers such as Woolworths and Coles decided to ban single-use plastic bags in their stores where they were replaced with reusable bags. This has led to an incredible 80% reduction in the consumption of plastics bags nationwide.
AUSTRALIAN PACKAGING TO BE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY BY 2025
The Australian government has set a target for all Australian packaging to be recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025. These targets are supported by the Threat Abatement Plan, the National Environment Protection (Packaging Materials) Measure (NEPM), and the Australian Packaging Covenant.
To learn more about bioplastics and what is being done, head to our Blog for the latest news and updates.