vendredi 30 janvier 2009

Biodegradable corn cups: Too good to be true?

Via Examiner

"This cup grew up in Blair, Nebraska. It's made entirely of corn. It's 100% compostable. It will disappear no matter what you do with it."

If you go into one of Boloco's several locations in the Boston area and order a drink, that's what your cup will say.

Formerly known as The Wrap, Boloco is a beacon of sustainability in a city full of fast food that's bad for you and the environment. The chain is certified by the Green Restaurant Association, and has completed 8 of the association's environmental steps: recycling and composting cardboard, glass, metal, and plastic, offering sustainable meat options, preventing pollution by not using polystyrene foam, using biodegradable cups, and outfitting its employees in organic cotton uniforms.

Because of their labeling, the corn cups are the restaurant's most obvious green effort, but are they too good to be true?

Most plastic is made from petroleum, but Boloco's cups are made from polylactic acid, or PLA. (This is done by a company called NatureWorks, a joint venture between Teijin Limited of Japan and the oft-vilified Cargill. Kudos to them for exploring environmentally low-impact technologies.) Lactic acid is made from dextrose by fermentation. Dextrose is made from starch, which in the case of these cups comes from corn. In places where corn is less common, the starch could come from crops including rice, sugar beets, sugarcane, wheat, or sweet potatoes.

All of these starch sources are also human food sources, and using them to create plastics instead of as a way to fill hungry bellies presents a problem. But in the U.S., we have more corn than we know what to do with, making the technique harder to argue with. And unlike petroleum, corn and other starchy crops are renewable resources, so making PLA uses far less fossil fuels than making regular plastic. You can see some comparisons of regular (PET) plastic and PLA plastic (marketed under the name IngeoTM) here.

But is PLA really 100% compostable? Probably not in your backyard compost bin, but in the closely regulated conditions of an industrial composter, it does compost within 45 days. And if your cup winds up in a landfill instead of a composter, it still biodegrades better than regular plastic, reacting like other food waste. Perhaps best of all, PLA products can be recycled and turned into more PLA products, which cost roughly the same amount as their plastic equivalents and work just as well.

What can you do to encourage the use of "corn cups" over traditional petroleum plastics? Patronize stores like Boloco that already use them, and be sure to say thanks for the cup. Ask what the cups are made of at other fast food restaurants, and tell the manager that you prefer to spend your money at places that use biodegradable ones.

Of course, if you really want to make a difference, the best thing you can do is bring your own re-usable cup.

mercredi 28 janvier 2009

Paper versus Plastic in Packaging to 2012

According to a new study from The Freedonia Group, US demand for plastic packaging will continue to outpace paper in markets where they compete, albeit more slowly as applications mature. The fastest market share increases for plastic will occur in pet food and soy beverage packaging, followed by protective packaging, foodservice and dairy products, among others.

In selected packaging markets where paper and plastic compete, plastic’s overall volume share will continue to expand, reaching 49% by 2012. This percentage understates plastic’s share since less plastic is required than paper in most applications due to its lighter weight. Plastic’s share of the market will expand more slowly than in the past decade, as a number of packaging applications are now fairly mature in terms of the share controlled by plastic. Nonetheless, material enhancements that enable extended shelf life and increased durability, along with reduced material requirements and the addition of convenience features such as resealability and steam cooking, will fuel continued opportunities for plastic packaging.

Plastics’ competitive cost and performance advantages to spur growth

Plastic packaging growth is forecast to outpace that of paper packaging through 2012 in all competitive markets covered in this study and is projected to climb 2.4 % per year through 2012. Advances will result from plastic’s competitive cost and performance advantages, including light weight, moisture resistance, enhanced barrier properties and puncture resistance. Other factors supporting gains include increased consumer spending, and favorable outlooks for foodservice revenues and Internet commerce. The fastest market share increases for plastic will occur in pet food and soy beverage packaging, with good opportunities also anticipated in protective packaging, foodservice, dairy product, fruit beverage and frozen food applications.

Slowest volume advances for plastic will occur in relatively saturated markets such as milk and baked goods, though plastic will log more rapid growth in smaller sized milk bottles, driven by conversions from gabletop cartons in schools and quick service restaurants.

Additionally, below-average growth for plastic in retail bags will be the result of environmental concerns and/or legislative restrictions that will negatively impact consumption. Plastic demand in the detergent market will post an outright decline, the result of the shift to more concentrated liquid formulations that use smaller bottles.

Paper packaging to grow slowly or decline in competitive markets

Due to inroads by plastic, paper consumption in most of these 17 markets will post marginal gains or continue to decline through 2012. In a few markets (soy beverages, foodservice, protective packaging, frozen food, dairy products, and meat, poultry and seafood) paper demand is expected to climb above the average pace despite further inroads by plastic.


mardi 27 janvier 2009

Study Confirms Lifecycle Advantages of Ingeo™ Clamshells over rPET

A first-of-its-kind lifecycle analysis finds that clamshell packaging made from Ingeo™, a unique biopolymer derived from plants rather than oil, emits fewer greenhouse gases and uses less energy when compared to clamshells manufactured with petroleum-based rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate).

The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IFEU), Heidelberg, Germany,, conducted the head-to-head lifecycle comparison on more than 40 different combinations of clamshell packaging made from Ingeo™ natural plastic, PET, and rPET. Both Ingeo™ and rPET clamshells outperformed PET packaging in terms of lower overall greenhouse gas emissions and lower overall energy consumed. Ingeo™ clamshells clearly offered further advantages over the petroleum-based rPET in numerous comparisons.

“Brand owners and converters will lower the carbon and energy footprint of clamshell packaging by moving away from PET and rPET to Ingeo™ polymer,” said Marc Verbruggen, president and CEO of NatureWorks, the manufacturer of Ingeo™. “This is true with today’s virgin Ingeo™ and, in the longer term, recycled Ingeo™ will decrease that footprint even more. Furthermore, the high performance of Ingeo™ biopolymer in clamshell applications means that less material may be required to manufacture them — on average 25 percent less.”

Representative results of the lifecycle analysis

The study showed that clamshell packaging consisting of 100 percent rPET emitted 58.6 kilograms of CO2 equivalents per 1,000 clamshells. Ingeo™ 2005, a representative grade biopolymer in the study, emitted 49.2 kilograms — an overall 16 percent reduction in CO2 equivalents. The Ingeo™ clamshell was lighter, yet functionally equivalent in terms of top-load strength.

Energy consumed over the lifecycle for 100 percent rPET clamshells was 1.1 gigajoules. This compared to .93 gigajoules for the lighter, yet functionally equivalent, Ingeo™ 2005 packaging — an overall 15 percent reduction in energy consumed.

“The study found that Ingeo™ compares favorably with rPET even when a producer chooses not to lightweight a clamshell,” said Steve Davies, NatureWorks director of Communications and Public Affairs. “The study also showed that the next generation of Ingeo™ biopolymer, which will be available in 2009, offers further improvements in eco-profile and clearly outperforms 100 percent rPET in head-to-head comparisons.”

Clear plastic clamshells, like the ones analyzed in the study, are often used for fresh produce and foodservice packaging — for example, lettuce, tomatoes, sandwiches, or deli salads. Currently this packaging is not recycled in either the U.S. or Europe. In the U.S. clamshell packaging typically goes to landfills after use, while in Europe this packaging may be incinerated for waste-heat recovery. The lifecycle study took both end-of-life scenarios into account.

For a copy of the full IFEU lifecycle analysis comparing rPET and Ingeo™ natural plastic clamshells, click here.


Redesigned environmentally-friendly packaging

To respond to the consumers’ interest in greener products, a large number of companies have taken the opportunity to associate new environmentally-friendly packaging with a new brand image. Here are two recent examples:

Gillette opts for blister packaging. The benefits of Gillette’s use of BlisterGuard include: 1) Packaging reduces the amount of plastic in the environment (by 50-70%); 2) Products are theft-resistant at the store and easy to open at home with scissors; 3) Package increases brand visibility and is more consumer-friendly; 4) Packaging was changed without changing equipment; 5) Assembly process was made more efficient, with minimal retooling.

KFC introduces eco-friendly packaging. Starting this month, KFC in the UK and Ireland will switch its burger packaging from cardboard "clamshells" to paper wrappers, and its individual-portion meals from cardboard boxes to paper bags. The new packaging is made from 100% renewable sources from European forests, which are 100% recyclable and biodegradable. The changes follow an initial measure taken to reduce cardboard waste in 2008, when the business stopped packing boxed meals for eat-in customers, saving approximately 554 tonnes in waste.

lundi 26 janvier 2009

Hefestus: Double Shelf Life for Fresh Poultry

Teva-Off, Israel, launches fresh poultry with an eight-day shelf life. This surpasses all other fresh meat and poultry products available in the marketplace. For this dramatic paradigm shift in poultry shelf-life capacity, Teva-Off used proprietary packaging technology by Hefestus, Israel. This new invention helps the producer and the retailer cut product cost and number of returns significantly as a result of improving processes in the supply chain.

Meat and poultry products are highly sensitive to oxidation and, more importantly, rapidly decompose and suffer damage via bacteria. Shelf-life of such products is at most four days. Teva-Off has succeeded in doubling its poultry product shelf life to eight days. This breakthrough in protecting poultry-product freshness and extending shelf life can influence the entire supply chain from manufacturer to consumer. Short shelf life in meat and poultry products typically causes large amounts of returns and discards of expired products, while decreasing profit significantly.

"This is the first fresh poultry product with extended shelf life and we anticipate it will totally change consumer purchasing and cooking behavior," says Amnon Ariel, CEO of Teva-Off. "Most consumers buy fresh poultry with 3-4 days of shelf life, either cooking or freezing it on or near the day of purchase. Doubling shelf life provide consumers excellent opportunity to keep fresh poultry in the refrigerator and cook it at will, rather than wait for it to defrost or worse, have it spoil before they get to it."

Teva-Off developed the new product with Hefestus’ proprietary packaging technology, Hera SLB (Shelf Life Booster). A high-quality applications laboratory performed shelf-life tests on a daily basis over a period of several months. Results showed Hefestus’ advanced technology provided a maximum shelf life of 12 days or more for fresh poultry.

"SLB technology enables manufacturers to pack fresh meat and poultry with residual oxygen of less than 0.4% and extends shelf life up to 15 days in some cases," notes Oded Shtemer, CEO of Hefestus. "We anticipate a growing demand for Hera in 2009.” Hera can pack fresh products with modified atmosphere (MAP) technology at a rate of 1,200 units per hour.

"We chose to pack the new product with the Hera system based on two important parameters: extended product shelf life and impressive speed," notes Ariel. "This new product puts us in the forefront of the marketplace."

Le mariage du carton et du plastique, pour le meilleur de l’environnement

Le mariage du carton et du plastique n’est pas nouveau, le plus bel exemple étant la caisse outre (ou Bag-In-Box). La combinaison de ces deux matériaux allie la rigidité (par le carton) à l’aptitude au contact alimentaire (par le film plastique). Cette association permet d’utiliser des films beaucoup plus fins et donc d’économiser de la matière. D’où l’intérêt, sur le plan environnemental, suscité par ce concept dont le champ des applications tend à s’étendre vers les emballages individuels. Au prochain salon CFIA, les visiteurs pourront découvrir, notamment, les deux emballages suivants :

Le concept Optimum Pack, lancé fin 2008 par CGL Pack (breveté) et candidat aux Trophées de l’innovation

Cet emballage rigide se veut «une solution minimaliste» comparée aux solutions traditionnelles du marché, notamment la barquette insérée dans un fourreau carton (sur-emballage marketing). Selon CGL Pack, la combinaison des deux matériaux permet de diviser par deux l’impact environnemental, en réduisant la quantité de matériau plastique.

Cet emballage est destiné à conditionner tout type de produits, notamment agroalimentaires solides. Aucun point de colle n’est nécessaire entre le carton et le plastique: les deux parties s’imbriquent solidement, l’une dans l’autre.

Le nouvel emballage mixte Destocup, lancé au CFIA 2009 par Plastic Force

Plastic Force est une société implantée en Belgique et en France, et spécialisée dans les emballages plastiques thermoformés et injectés (PS, PP, APET, PLA). Cet emballage se compose d’un pot plastique thermoformé très fin (rond, ovale, carré…) qui est entouré d’un carton résistant. Cette combinaison permet d’obtenir un emballage rigide tout en étant très léger. Pour le recyclage, les deux matériaux se séparent très facilement. Autres avantages : le pot s’opercule sans problème et le carton autorise une diversité d’impression : offset, héliogravure, flexographie.


dimanche 25 janvier 2009

Emballage de l'huile d’olive : "Think outside the Box"

Stéphanie Bérubé, journaliste à La Presse a publié aujourd'hui deux articles sur la fraude alimentaire, un phénomène largement répandu, mais néanmoins méconnu. Dans le premier intitulé : Les escrocs de l'alimentation, on apprend notamment que :

«Le consommateur n'y verra que du feu. Et à moins que l'auteur de cette arnaque soit très malchanceux, il s'en sortira indemne puisque les contrôles sont rares. Très rares.»

«Tout le monde a déjà eu entre les mains un aliment contrefait»

«Selon le FBI, la contrefaçon sera le crime le plus important au XXIe siècle, y compris dans l'alimentation.»
« Des amendes peu dissuasives : Un constat d'infraction ne mène pas nécessairement à une condamnation. Pour l'année 2006-2007, 18 contrevenants canadiens ont été contraints de payer des amendes totalisant...12 000$! »
Dans le second, la journaliste se penche sur le cas de l’huile d’olive :

Une bouteille d'huile d'olive sur trois vendues au Canada n'est pas conforme. On y a ajouté de l'huile de canola ou une autre huile moins chère pour la diluer et tout de même la vendre sous l'appellation huile d'olive extra vierge.
Le consommateur pris en otage. On se demande comment les consommateurs peuvent se prémunir contre de telles fraudes?

Je pense que ce n’est pas en augmentant le nombre d’inspection qu’on va résoudre le problème. Il faut s’attaquer à la racine du problème en offrant de nouveaux emballages, dits « intelligents ». Un emballage attrayant ne suffit plus.

Le temps où les emballages ne jouaient qu'un rôle de barrière inerte et imperméable entre l’aliment et l'environnement extérieur est révolu. L’emballage doit désormais informer le consommateur sur la qualité du contenu. Ces emballages peuvent surveiller et contrôler l'évolution des conditions dans lesquelles un produit alimentaire a été emballé. Ils fournissent également des informations complémentaires sur la qualité du produit pendant toutes les étapes de transport et de stockage précédant sa consommation.

Il faudrait donc «Penser au-delà de la boîte», les emballages intelligents sont souvent considérés comme un moyen prometteur d’améliorer la qualité et la sécurité alimentaire pour le consommateur final.

samedi 24 janvier 2009

Plus beaux, plus frais, plus sains- grâce aux nano-emballages et au nano-additifs

La nanotechnologie fait son entrée dans l’alimentation : sous forme d’additifs ou de matériaux d’emballage. L’étude du centre d’évaluation des choix technologiques (TA-SWISS) apporte une vue d’ensemble des nanomatériaux déjà utilisés. Se basant sur des critères environnementaux et de gestion durable, elle évalue les produits contenants des nanomatériaux et montre les développements possibles et la prudence qui s’impose.

«En Suisse, nous retrouvons très peu d'aliments contenant des additifs de taille nanométrique», souligne Martin Möller, de l'Institut d'écologie appliquée de Fribourg-en-Brisgau, qui a codirigé l'étude. Tout au plus cite-t-il un condiment, l'acide silicique (E551): «C'est un antiagglomérant, constitué de particules nanométriques, ajouté depuis des décennies aux épices pour éviter qu'elles ne s'agglutinent. Mais qui est sans danger, selon diverses batteries de tests.»

En revanche, «les emballages alimentaires ayant des composants «nano» jouent déjà un rôle important en Suisse», poursuit-il. Exemple type: le PET. Ce matériau laisse, à terme, s'échapper le gaz carbonique des boissons - c'est pour cette raison que la bière n'est conservée que dans des flacons en verre ou en aluminium. Pour annihiler ce processus de diffusion, certaines bouteilles de PET sont donc recouvertes de couches nanométriques de carbone ou d'oxyde de silicium, sortes de barrière antioxygène.

Dans un domaine voisin, le groupe néo-zélandais Jenkins commercialise un nanofilm réagissant à des substances aromatiques libérées par des fruits pendant le mûrissement, rapporte le TA-SWISS. La pellicule change de couleur suivant le degré de maturation. Enfin, des sociétés développent des emballages recouverts d'une nanocouche d'argent. L'action bactéricide de ce métal est incontestée, et permettrait d'empêcher toute moisissure.

Le potentiel économique dans ces deux champs d'activité - aliments et emballage - est énorme, selon les analystes. Pour le second, le groupe de consultants Helmut Kaiser estime le marché actuel à 980 millions de dollars; il grimperait à 100 milliards d'ici à dix ans.

Lire la suite…

vendredi 23 janvier 2009

PepsiCo measures carbon footprint of Tropicana

PepsiCo, Inc. and the Carbon Trust have launched a partnership to certify the carbon footprint of several PepsiCo products, starting with Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice. The partnership found an estimated 3.74 lbs, or 1.7 kg, of carbon dioxide are emitted into the environment for every 64-oz carton of Tropicana Pure Premium.

About 60% of Tropicana’s carbon footprint is the result of agricultural and manufacturing-related activity, mostly the result of grove management and the energy required to process oranges. Transportation and distribution represent another 22% of the footprint, packaging accounts for 15%, and consumer use and disposal makes up 3%

Read more…


jeudi 22 janvier 2009

Packaging design should aid recycling

Updated guidelines from Recoup highlight the scope for designing plastics packaging to aid recycling. The guide, called Plastics Packaging - Recyclability by Design, updates a 2006 document and adds sections on bioplastics and mixed plastics packaging recycling.

John Simmons, chief executive of UK-based Recoup, said the 2006 guide had been “a key tool and reference point to many” and the new version reflects further work by Recoup and its partners. “This work I am sure will make a positive contribution to the progression of plastics packaging recycling and will communicate and share best practice, all part of Recoup’s core objectives.”

The 48-page guide covers design considerations such as minimising use of different plastics and keeping barrier layers as thin as possible. A materials section provides information on recycling considerations when using PET, PVC, PE and PP.

Bioplastics, such as PLA, have been used in packaging applications in recent years and the new guide discusses issues such as compatibility with established plastics waste streams. The market penetration of bioplastics in packaging is still small but this situation may change and risks could develop in the mixing of bioplastics in conventional plastics waste collection, the guide says.

“Consideration should be given to developing a separate infrastructure for the collection of the bioplastic where risks are foreseen and sufficient market uptake achieved,” the guide says.

An alternative approach would involve separating bioplastics from conventional materials streams by manual or automatic sorting.

The guide also looks at “mixed plastics” – items such as tubs and trays, as well as film. Recoup will separately publish an industry backed specification for mixed plastics packaging which will be available soon.

The 48 page guide is available for free download on the Recoup website

mercredi 21 janvier 2009


I didn’t even know there was an “oxo-biodegradable PET plastic movement” until a December 3 email notified me of its existence.

Having looked into it a bit, I find that a number of industry experts and observers—including some folks at Wal-Mart—take a dim view of oxo-biodegradable plastic packaging.

First, a bit of semantical housekeeping. The term “oxo-biodegradability” is a relatively new alternative to “oxo-degradability.” When people use these terms, they’re generally referring to a two-step process whereby—in theory at least—a masterbatch additive reduces the molecular weight of the polymer to a point where microorganisms can consume the degraded pieces.

These materials are controversial for at least three reasons. First, their earliest suppliers “overpromised and underdelivered,” as one insider put it. The hype has left a number of people predisposed to frown on oxo-biodegradables.

More significant, little scientific evidence has been available proving these materials would biodegrade, i.e., be consumed by microorganisms and returned to the ecosystem. Lately, that evidence is said to be available from suppliers offering a range of oxo-biodegradable polymers, including polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, and PET. However, the biodegradation these suppliers promise takes anywhere from two to six years, depending on environmental conditions. That means these oxo-biodegradable materials do not meet current U.S. or European standards governing biodegradation and/or compostability.

The other fly in the oxo-biodegradable ointment revolves around what’s referred to as “persistent chemicals.” If the additives used to promote oxo-biodegradation in plastic packaging include cobalt, manganese, or iron, is there a chance that these will somehow accumulate in the soil or sea to a point where toxicity is reached? This is one of the many questions surrounding oxo-biodegradability that needs to be addressed.

Also worth noting is that the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus on December 8 recommended that Dallas-based GP Plastics, the maker of PolyGreen plastic bags for newspapers, cease claiming its bags are 100% oxo-biodegradable.

I bring all of this to your attention because, despite all the controversy, oxo-biodegradable plastic packaging is beginning to make some commercial headway. Green Planet Bottle Corp. of Toronto has teamed up with Wells Plastics Ltd. of the U.K. to develop Reverte™, a proprietary technology that makes petroleum-based polymers oxo-biodegradable “in landfills, ditches, rivers, and oceans.” First to commercialize this new technology is Ciao Water Inc. of Boulder, CO. The firm has no retail presence but rather sells its bottled water to hotels, conventions, and events. Preforms are being made by Encon Inc. of Dayton, OH. Bottles are blown and filled by Tushar Mountain Bottling, Inc., of Beaver, UT.

Also coming out with an oxo-biodegradable PET bottle is Canadian Gold Beverages Inc. of Marchand, Manitoba, Canada. The masterbatch additive supplier in this case is BioSmart, also a Canadian firm. “Canadian Gold Beverages now offers a completely biodegradable bottle, bottle cap, and label,” says Canadian Gold’s Web site. “This is not a PLA bottle, but instead a new proprietary technology.”

I’m in no position to pontificate one way or another where all of this is concerned. But I do find it fascinating. You can expect to hear a good deal more about it as it makes its way into packaging conferences such as next month’s Nova-Pack 2009, sponsored by Schotland Business Research. Eventually, as this debate unfolds, I’d like to think that sound science will prevail and that these new materials will either be scientifically endorsed or scientifically debunked. In the meantime, you’d do well to know they could be coming to a store shelf near you.


lundi 19 janvier 2009

Le projet EMAC: Emballages Actifs

Le projet EMAC (EMballages ACtifs) devrait déboucher sur la création d’emballages augmentant la durée de vie des produits frais. Co-labellisé par les pôles Vitagora, Plastipolis et Agro-Ressources, ce projet bénéficie d’un financement de 5,5 millions d’euros, pris en charge en partie par les conseils régionaux de Franche-Comté et de Bourgogne.

Le colloque organisée par l’ESIREM (Ecole Supérieure d’Ingénieurs de Recherche en Matériaux), le 15 janvier à Dijon, était l’occasion de présenter le projet EMAC (EMballages ACtifs), retenu par le Fonds Unique Interministériel (FUI) et bénéficiant d’un financement de 5,5 millions d’euros. Co-labellisé par les pôles Vitagora, Plastipolis et Agro-Ressources, ce projet vise à l’élaboration d’emballages permettant d’augmenter la durée de vie des produits frais, et notamment les produits carnés ou laitiers, tout en conservant les propriétés organoleptiques (goût, odeur, texture) des aliments. Financé notamment par les conseils régionaux de Franche-Comté et de Bourgogne, le projet réunit l’ESIREM, le laboratoire ICMUB du CNRS, l’Ensbana (École Nationale Supérieure de Biologie Appliquée à la Nutrition et à l’Alimentation), ainsi que Lactalis, les PME Chazal et les Salaisons dijonnaises, AFT Plasturgie, Plastilax (groupe Lacroix) et Wipak.

samedi 17 janvier 2009

Les mandarines chinoises au Québec: Over-Packaging aberrant

Pister les aberrations du suremballage commence dans un supermarché prés de chez vous. Mon attention a été attirée aujourd’hui par le cas de ces mandarines chinoises emballées individuellement dans des sachets plastiques. Ce produit est vendu dans les magasins Maxi.

Or il se trouve justement que l’ensemble des marchés d'alimentation Loblaws, Maxi et Provigo sont actuellement en pleine campagne de communication pour afficher leur engagement vert. Afin de réduire la consommation de sacs en plastique, le groupe Loblaws, a en effet annoncé qu’à compter du prochain Jour de la Terre, les clients devront débourser 5 ¢ pour chaque sac dans lequel ils transporteront leurs achats.

Faut-il y voir un paradoxe? Non seulement faire venir des mandarines de Chine semble bien loin d’un véritable engagement vert, mais encore le conditionnement de ces agrumes laisse perplexe alors que la tendance en matière d’emballage est surtout à la réduction à la source (ici et ).

Les détaillants du Québec seraient bien inspirés de suivre l’initiative "Scorecard de Wal-Mart", un système de notation des emballages qui permet d’évaluer les progrès de ses fournisseurs en ce qui concerne le développement d'emballages "environnementaux". En cas de mauvais score, les produits seront déréférencés.

Nb : pour aller jusqu’au bout de l’expérience, j’ai joué le cobaye et j’ai goûté la fameuse mandarine, vous ne serez pas surpris d’apprendre qu’elle était absolument infecte pour ne pas dire dégueulasse.

Packaging of the week: BeePak™

This nifty little package, called a BeePak™ has a US Patent Pending and is designed in the shape of a heart for single serve uses.

It has two separate pocket chambers, which when squeezed together create two separate streams of product. The front edge of the pack, then acts as a spreader or knife if you want to mix the sauces together.

To open the BeePak™ you simply remove a small tab covering the dual openings at the front of the pack, and then just squeeze the two sides together!

The BeePak™allows the user to control how much and where the sauces should flow, and because the openings are visible and well away from the user’s finger and thumb, there is no mess.

The BeePak™ can be used for combinations like butter and jam; ketchup and mayo, vinegar and salad oil; shampoo and conditioner – but can also be used for one product on both sides of the pack.

Single serve packages give consumers choice and security particularly in the airlines, food service and hospitality area, where speed of service is all important.

By combining two products in the one package this also eliminates much of the wastage too. The in-built spreader also eliminates the need for a knife to spread a product – so there is less to clean up, which is also a saving in staff time.

Tstix International Licensing, the Australian company behind the invention is looking to License the rights to the invention to interested companies. Tstix is also behind the Tstix™invention too – a micro-filter stick pack for teas and coffees, and a winner of a 2008 prestigious Worldstar Award for packing excellence.

vendredi 16 janvier 2009

Waste boss clears up confusion over plastic bags

Biodegradable bags are garbage and do not belong in recycling bins or composters, Marc MacLeod warns.

Marc MacLeod, general manager of the Fundy Region Solid Waste Commission, pulls out a plastic bag from a large compost pile at the landfill.
MacLeod, who's general manager of the Fundy Region Solid Waste Commission, says biodegradable and oxo-biodegradable bags are starting to appear on store shelves, so he's trying to a clear up a common misunderstanding that biodegradable is synonymous with compostable.

Biodegradable bags are plastic bags with an additive that helps them break down into smaller pieces in the presence of oxygen, he said.

By contrast, compostable bags are made of materials that micro-organisms can eat.

"They can't eat plastic," he said.

"The only place for biodegradable bags is in the garbage."

Recycling is also not an option for biodegradable bags because products made from the recycled material will break down due to a chemical additive.

"If you were making plastic lumber of our recyclable plastic, you don't want a degradable compound in there that's going to break the lumber down," he said.

Evidence of biodegradable bags can be found in the landfill's compost bin, he said.

"We screen it out and it ends up going to the landfill," he said.

"Unfortunately, it doesn't break down in the landfill either because it needs oxygen or in the landfill it gets covered with more waste and doesn't get any oxygen."

The state of California had such a problem with the bags that they passed a law banning bags from being called biodegradable that didn't meet compostable standards because people were so confused, he said.

Only compostable bags, which are marked with the Biodegradable Product Institute's logo are acceptable in the green cart compost program.

"Initiatives like NB Liquor's decision to phase out degradable plastic bags, and to encourage their customers to bring a reusable bag is the direction we should be heading," he said.

"We have two great diversion programs in the Fundy region: our recycling which can recycle plastic bags and the compost program for food and yard waste.

"Biodegradable, degradable or oxo-biodegradable plastic bags do not fit into either of these programs and consequently threaten both of them."

He asks that residents double-check plastic bags before recycling them at the blue bins or using them in their green cart compost bin.


jeudi 15 janvier 2009

Can bioplastics offer a sustainable future for the chemicals industry?

With the prospect of oil supplies eventually drying up, bioplastics offer a more sustainable future. But can they live up to the hype?

Concerns about future supplies of petrochemical raw materials and plastics disposal have sharpened the focus on renewable and biodegradable plastics. Many different types of bioplastics are produced today, but they are still on a journey to full sustainability. There are even claims that, in certain circumstances, traditional plastics could be environmentally preferable.

Production of bioplastics has the potential to generate less greenhouse gases and require less energy than traditional plastics, says industry association European Bioplastics. Harald Kab, chairman of the association, says bioplastics made from renewable resources have the advantage that they are compostable and, if incinerated, produce greener energy since the renewable carbon content of the raw materials is recycled back to carbon dioxide.


mercredi 14 janvier 2009

Bio-based nanotechnology materials for a green society

Synthetic fibers are ubiquitous in modern society and their manufacture represents a huge, multi-billion dollar worldwide industry. Synthetic fibers – carbon fibers, nylon, polyester, kevlar, spandex, etc. – are manufactured from fossil fuels, usually from oil, but sometimes from coal or natural gas. Most of these materials are not biodegradable and, in addition to their significant carbon footprint during production, they pose environmental problems at the end of their life cycle.

Natural fibers, on the other hand, such as wool and cotton, come from renewable animal or plant sources but they usually lack the high-performance characteristics of many synthetic fibers. This may change, as the new field of bio-based nanomaterials promises to deliver environmentally friendly, high-performance bio-fiber materials that can replace some of the synthetic materials.

Cellulose, which is the most common organic compound on the planet, is a structural component of the cell walls of many plants. Its industrial use is mainly for making paper and cardboard but recently it has also attracted significant interest as a source of biofuel production. Nanotechnology researchers are interested in it because highly-crystalline cellulose nanofibers, abundantly present in natural plant bodies, have unique properties and sizes different from synthetic nanofibers. These scientists believe that cellulose nanofibers have a high potential to be used as transparent and extremely strong films in many different areas. This could lead to environmentally-compatible and high-performance packaging components.

"Because of the presence of numerous hydrogen bonds between cellulose microfibrils in plant cell walls, it has been impossible to convert native cellulose fibers into aqueous dispersions of individual cellulose microfibrils without significant decreases in microfibril length and without impairing their structural potential," Dr. Akira Isogai explains to Nanowerk. "With our newly developed technique, we were able to obtain completely individualized cellulose nanofibers from wood cellulose, 4-5 nm in width and at least a few microns in length."

Isogai, a professor in the Laboratory of Cellulose, Pulp and Paper Science at the Department of Biomaterial Sciences, University of Tokyo, together with his team, have used their cellulose-based nanofibers to fabricate transparent gels and thin films that have remarkably high-oxygen barrier capability (which, according to Isogai, is a really unexpected result), high optical transparency, high strength and a quite low coefficient of thermal expansivity, caused by high crystallinity of native cellulose.

The scientists reported their findings in the December 4, 2008 online edition of Biomacromolecules ("Transparent and High Gas Barrier Films of Cellulose Nanofibers Prepared by TEMPO-Mediated Oxidation").

The technique developed by the Japanese team is based on the selective oxidation of primary hydroxyl groups on the fibril surfaces to anionically-charged carboxylate groups through TEMPO-mediated oxidation of native celluloses and the subsequent mild disintegration in water. The resulting bionanofibers maintained the crystallinity and crystal widths of the original wood celluloses to be about 75% and 3-4 nm, respectively.

Systematic diagram of individualization of nano-sized plant cellulose fibrils by direct surface carboxylation using TEMPO catalyst. (Image: Dr. Isogai/University of Tokyo).

Because the TEMPO-oxidized cellulose nanofiber films had quite high oxygen-barrier properties, they are potentially very interesting materials for biodegradable and high-performance packaging components in the pharmaceutical and food industries.

Other candidates to use the new bio-nanofibers are flexible display panel and electric device components (because of the extremely low coefficient of thermal expansion and the high optical transparency), high tensile strengths fiber and film composite materials, and health care components.

A problem that Isogai's team encountered was a gradual degradation of the films' oxygen barrier capability with increasing humidity. Although oxygen permeability of the TEMPO-oxidized cellulose nanofiber films under dry conditions was remarkably low, it became higher when measured at relative humidity of, for example, 90%. Moreover, water vapor permeability of the original films, which is also one of the significant and required properties for packaging components, was insufficient at present because of the hydrophobic nature of the TEMPO-oxidized cellulose nanofibers.

"We are now working on refining our processing, modification and composition methods of the TEMPO-oxidized cellulose nanofibers to add moisture-resistance, high oxygen-barrier properties at high relative humidity, water vapor-barrier properties, and other functional properties necessary for high-tech materials," says Isogai.

A project of the TEMPO-oxidized cellulose nanofibers, supported by the Japanese Government and in cooperation with Nippon Paper Industries and Kao Corporation, has been ongoing since 2007. Its goal is the development of environmentally-compatible and high-performance packaging components.

Isogai mentions that this project, proposed by his group, was selected as the highest ranked of the Nanotech Challenge Program by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization of Japan.



mardi 13 janvier 2009

PLA based film may be effective antimicrobial

An extruded composite food packaging film containing pectin, polylactic acids (PLAs) and nisin can inhibit Listeria monocytogenes, according to scientists based at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the US Department of Agriculture.

The scientists said the objectives of their study, which was published in the International Journal of Food Science and Technology, was to evaluate the potential use of PLA/pectin and nisin composite film in antimicrobial food packaging.

According to the ARS team, bacteria like Listeria are a concern in food with extended shelf life because they tolerate salt, pH changes, inadequate thermal pasteurisation and refrigerated temperatures.

Material selection

The team explained that they selected PLA (purchased from Cargill Dow) as the packaging material in their study due to the fact that it can be derived from renewable resources, coupled with the growing interest in the future replacement of fossil fuel-derived polymers with alternatives.

Pectin, said the ARS team, is a water soluble hygroscopic polymer, and has been used as a thickening, coating and encapsulating material; the scientists claim that relatively few studies have reported on the use of pectin, alone or in combination with PLA as a base packaging material and as a carrier for nisin for antimicrobial food packaging.

The pectin used here was purchased from Danisco, as was the nisin used in the project.

Nisin was employed, said the researchers, as it is increasingly used in a variety of foods including dairy, eggs, vegetables, meat, fish, beverages and cereal-based products to inhibit growth of foodborne pathogens including L. monocytogenes; it is non-toxic, heat stable and does not contribute to off-flavours, said the team.

The scientists added that they chose brain heart infusion (BHI), orange juice and liquid egg white as the foods for the study as they serve as representatives for neutral, high acid and low acid foods respectively.

While no outbreaks involving L. monocytogenes in fruit juices have been reported, continued the ARS team, the fact that this pathogen may survive well beyond the normal shelf-life of nonsterile acidic fruit juices suggests that these products are potential vehicles of infection.


The film, found the researchers, was effective in reducing L. monocytogenes by 2.1, 4.5 and 3.7 log units mL-1 in the BHI, as well as in the orange juice and liquid egg after 48 hours at 24°C.

The ARS scientists concluded that this composite film has great potential to reduce post-process growth of food pathogens, and they added that they will further explore the use of nisin containing films as packaging materials with antimicrobial activity against L. monocytogenes for solid foods such as meat products.

Source: International Journal of Food Science and Technology 2009, 44 322-329. Antimicrobial activity of nisin in films against L. monocytogenes. Authors: T. Jin et al.

McDonald's 'most littered brand'

McDonald's packaging is the most dropped fast food litter in England, a survey by Keep Britain Tidy suggests.

Branded litter from the company made up 29% of all fast food litter spotted in the survey.

Unbranded wrappings from local fish and chip or kebab shops came second, making 21% of waste, bakery Greggs came third with 18% and KFC fourth with 8%.

Surveyors for the organisation spent two days observing branded fast food litter in ten cities across England.

Sandwich chain Subway and other branded coffee shops completed the list, each with 5% of the litter found.

The cities surveyed were Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Leicester, Birmingham, Bristol, Southampton and London.

Keep Britain Tidy has delivered the survey to the chief executives of companies named.

It is demanding the fast food industry takes more responsibility for what happens to fast food and packaging when it is taken away from premises.

dimanche 11 janvier 2009

ICGQ : Institut des Communications Graphiques du Québec

A partir du Lundi 12 janvier 2008, je rejoins l’équipe de l’Institut des communications graphiques du Québec (ICGQ). Il s’agit d’un centre intégré d’innovation et d’expertise de calibre mondial qui supporte de manière proactive l’industrie des communications graphiques, ses partenaires et leurs employés dans leur évolution technologique et commerciale.

PakBec continuera de SURVEILLER les débats autour des bioplastiques et des plastiques oxo-biodégradables, d’ANTICIPER les nouvelles tendances en matière d’emballage émergents (éco-responsables, intelligents et actifs), afin de contribuer à aider les acteurs du secteur à INNOVER pour mieux EMBALLER…tout en participant à la réduction à la source.

Pakbec ajoute désormais un nouveau volet à ses champs d’intérêts : l’utilisation de la nanotechnologie dans les emballages.

A bientôt pour des nouvelles toujours plus emballantes, espérons-le…

Despite downturn, these trends will affect packaging

Each new year marks a period of renewal. It is everyone's chance to start over. But some developments take years to evolve, and the scope of their importance often is not immediately apparent. These are called trends. So, in my prognosis for 2009, here are six megatrends likely to have a growing impact on packaging:

1. Sustainability. With a weakening economy, many might think that sustainability would be cast aside as companies pare costs. Consumers and packagers now understand that packaging resources aren't limitless. However, as Lynn Dornblaser, an expert in trend analysis at Mintel Intl., says the sustainability practices most likely to survive the downturn are those that will have a financial benefit for the end users, such as downgauging and reshaping packages.

2. Automation. Recent PD surveys on automation indicate packagers will continue investing in automating their packaging lines. The reasons are simple: reduced labor costs; increasing flexibility; and boosting efficiency—all key to staying in business.

3. Private Labeling. A Citigroup survey showed that private-labeling sales have increased 8.3 percent in 2008. Dornblaser reports a real change in consumer sentiments. They want quality at value prices. Increasingly, private-label products give buyers more choices for premium products. Many retailers no longer offer generic products that imitate national brands. Retailers like Target, Safeway and Wegmans have multiple tiers of their own products. Increasingly, they utilize captive brands sold only at a single retail chain, such as CVS or Target.

4. Convenience. Busy consumers will continue to demand packaging that offers convenience. Dornblaser says packaging that makes a product easy to prepare will grow dramatically. However, she says that it's likely that sales of multipacks and portion-packs will slow as consumers look to stretch their dollars.

5. Increased shelf life. Packaging technology that enhances shelf life will be in demand. Consumers want fresh foods, beverages, medicines and household products no matter how long these have been in the closet. Other features that reduce spoilage after opening, like zippers and reclosures, are likely to be hot.

6. Globalization. While offshore production may decrease due to slowing international trade, multinational companies like Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Procter & Gamble will seek international continuity in branding and make their packaging similar, no matter where it's sold.

John Kalkowski, Editorial Director -- Packaging Digest, 1/1/2009

vendredi 9 janvier 2009

Building the best barrier to entry

Keeping a product safe and bringing costs and waste down is a delicate balancing act, says Des King, but the barrier films sector is taking to the challenge.

Packaging is designed to repel unwelcome boarders – be it grubby fingers, germs or oxygen. Barrier film technology is mostly a matter of focusing upon what it is, and to what extent, you want to constrain or contain. However, maintaining freshness and product viability by controlling what gets into and out of a pack comes at a cost; not just to the budget, but arguably to the recovery stream.

There is no staple polymer that can provide a barrier to moisture and oxygen, the twin elements to which pre-packed viability of the majority of food products are most susceptible. Unless the objective is a clear-cut either/or in terms of prevention, the likelihood is that a multi-layer solution will be required. Not only does co-extrusion impact on price, but also mixed materials may not be recyclable: an added potential difficulty to be addressed if and when flexible packaging recovery becomes a reality within the UK.

In broad terms, it's the polyamides (for example, nylon) and polyesters (PET) for oxygen; and polypropylene (PP) or better still, polyethylene (PE) for moisture and also its excellent sealing attributes. Further degrees of barrier capability, for example suitability for microwaving, stem from those base-points, explains PAFA's David Tyson.

"Each plastic has different properties – these are the building blocks to create the requirement of the film. Some are created to withstand high temperatures, moisture, grease, oils and so on; some are intended to seal in flavour or seal out air; some are for strength; some are for flexibility; some are for economical reasons. It's just a matter of choosing the material to suit the purpose that you want the packaging to achieve."

Practical packaging

There is currently pressure to simplify the number of materials used, particularly in plastic packaging. The rationale is to recycle more and to have more common materials. Tyson rebuts: "That's fine, so long as you don't remove some of the properties that protect the contents. Studies have shown that the energy used to produce the actual content inside can be up to 20 times the energy taken to produce the packaging. I believe that the packaging's got to be driven by the application and not the end-of-life scenario."

And those applications can be highly sophisticated. Amcor Flexibles' retortable HeatFlex pouch solution for microwaving at temperatures of 180°C, for example, comprises co-extruded layers of a transparent high barrier laminate-coated PET film; a polyamide secondary layer and a further PP layer on the inside.

As the converting division within the BPI Group, bpi.consumer VMB is the largest supplier of fresh produce flexible packaging applications to UK multiples, processing over 12,000 tonnes per year of mostly PE and PP. Using the same external barrier film components, modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) figures high on the agenda; for example, co-extruded BOPP packs customized to have a high O2 permeability to extend the shelf life of Tesco own-label trimmed leeks and sweet corn.

"If we can reduce food waste by using optimized packaging solutions and customizing the packaging to the specific end-use, then we can not only reduce that waste but we can also make a big commercial impact on the levels of scrap experienced by retailers," says business development manager Robin Gilmour. "It does add cost, but it more than pays for itself in extended shelf-life. Otherwise, the retailers wouldn't buy it, would they?"

Either as a straightforward filmic solution or else as a laminate coating, PVDC (poly-vinylidene chloride) has the capability to withstand both oxygen and moisture. Innovia, for example, applies it to its basic cellophane films and also BOPP grades for its PropaFresh packs.

"If you look at the PP sector, traditionally, if you want to improve the aroma barrier then you'll add an acrylic coating – but if a gas barrier is really critical, then it'll require a PVDC coating," says global marketing manager Andy Sweetman. "On the other side, you'll have basic cellulose film and polymers such as PVOH and EVOH, which provide very good gas barrier properties as long as you keep them dry. Sitting in the middle of that construction you'll have PVDC. It's a dual-purpose barrier solution with a coating on the top."

Coated polyester films can offer a barrier to both oxygen and moisture, but aren't sealable. So in addition you'd need a PE or PP layer, which would also provide rigidity, points out Amcor Flexibles innovations manager Uwe Obermann, who also raises the potential conflict between barrier technology and green concerns.

"Environmental issues are an increasing factor in terms of reduction of layer thickness or the overall material consumption."

Cost of laminate is another issue; replacing transparent aluminium oxide-coated foil with other combinations, such as metallised PET or OPP films, even though the aluminium foil provides the best barrier to light, moisture and oxygen.

"With new material constructions you can't achieve everything; the customer has to reduce his requirement of certain packaging applications if he wants to go for a more eco-friendly alternative."

Amcor business manager Frank Nielsen takes that marketing dilemma one stage further. "While increased cost for a barrier film does pay for itself in extended shelf-life, working capital and turnaround time are factors very much in focus right now, which means that if the supply chain is robust and very responsive you could actually see a decline in demand for barrier properties."
Nielsen adds that there is a trend towards reducing order volume but increasing frequency of delivery in order to avoid the need for a barrier film.

Natural selection

Biopolymer films score highly with environmentalists. The difficulty is that while there's an inbuilt gas barrier there's also high permeability to moisture. "Innovia has resolved that with NatureFlex NK by using our coating technology to allow the use of small amounts of a different material that reinforces the barrier without compromising biodegradability," claims Andy Sweetman.

"You can work with very small amounts; they must be non-toxic, and must satisfy the very rigorous EN13432 composting regulation to prove that the overall solution is biodegradable, compostable and has no toxicity issues. It can be an onerous process. Taking a new material through the testing programme will entail at least six months' work."

NatureWorks is also looking at extending the remit of its PLA 'Ingeo' polymer into moisture barrier applications, says European business development manager Eamonn Tighe. "There are a number of additives that can be used: some of them bio-based, some of them not; some of them compostable, some of them not, and which will meet the barrier requirements of whatever application you need."

Tighe admits that Ingeo is not the packaging industry's 'silver bullet', but he also points out: "Many of the fossil-fuel derivative plastics have been optimised over a significant period of years; we've only been around for five." Biopolymers may still have much to prove, but their sustainable origins may mean they face fewer barriers in the green debate.


Still in its infancy - but the recipient of around $6bn of investment in R&D per annum, estimates industry consultant Neil Farmer – the commercialization of nanotechnology looks set to drive flexible filmic barrier packaging performance significantly further.

"Lighter weight or even using less film can be a benefit, but often the biggest gain is extended shelf-life," says bpi.consumer VMB's Robin Gilmour. "If you take bananas - the single biggest sales line by value through the multiples - we can add two extra days without any organoleptic (taste) effect by using minute particle ethylene scavengers approved for direct contact with food. The consequent 2% or so waste reduction can equate to a saving of tens of millions of pounds to the retailer."

Farmer, meanwhile, enthuses that "all plastics, especially biopolymers, will soon contain nano-additives to boost performance and provide additional active and bio-active functionalities." But others are less convinced. "It's interesting and we're watching what's happening, although not yet working on it," says Amcor Flexibles innovations manager Uwe Obermann. "There's a risk that because of their minute size, nano-particles could migrate into the content."

For the past five years, the US army has equipped its combat troops with emergency ration packs made from cellulose with 0.5-nanometre-wide gaps. Facilitating 99% toxin-free rehydration regardless of the liquid quality employed, these packs are activated by anything from infected water to the body's own natural effluent.

While it might not be something to try at home, the result is that a nanotechnology-enhanced pouch containing a day's rations can be reduced down from 3.5kg to just 0.4kg. It certainly brings a whole new meaning to taking the piss.


mardi 6 janvier 2009

Sacs oxo-biodégradables au Québec : Greenwashing volontaire ou non?

Les sacs oxo-biodégradables pullulent au Québec. Plusieurs compagnies, Natrel, Publisac (Transcontinental), Metro, Jean Coutu, pour n’en citer que quelques unes, en ont fait l’argument principal de leur « tournant vert ». Mais n’ont-t-ils pas succombé aux fausses promesses des oxo-biodégradables.

De plus en plus de voix s’élèvent pour dénoncer les problèmes que suscitent les sacs oxo-biodégradables et leur véritable valeur ajoutée environnementale.
1- Réglementation laxiste, confusion et fausses affirmations

Actuellement la réglementation est soit laxiste, soit incomplète. Certes l’industrie du plastique a tenté d'améliorer la situation en créant une certification spéciale pour les sacs recyclables, ce qui devrait faciliter la prise de décision des consommateurs lorsque vient le temps de recycler un sac. Cependant, cette initiative s’avère insuffisante, il incombe au gouvernement Québecois de statuer sur la légalité de ces nouveaux sacs «verts» et de créer le cadre réglementaire adéquat. En attendant, les consommateurs nagent en pleine confusion, ne sachant pas comment se débarrasser du sac (gestion de fin de vie : recyclage, compostage, enfouissement???).

Par ailleurs, le National Advertising Division (NAD), un organisme chargé d’évaluer la véracité de la publicité aux États-Unis vient de recommander à GP Plastics Corp, le producteur de sacs oxo-biodégradables PolyGreen, de modifier ou de cesser de diffuser certaines fausses affirmations concernant leurs produits.

"Some of GP Plastic’s marketing claims that the NAD found unsupported included: “100% oxo-biodegradable”; “disposable through ordinary channels” and go “from front lawn, to waste bins to the landfill”; “You won’t notice any difference but the environment will.” “The greatest thing to ever hit the earth.”; “Eco-Friendly Plastic Newspaper Bags”; “environmentally friendly.”; “Our bags are completely recyclable” “The result is obvious – bag it with PolyGreen and increase your margins while saving the planet."

2- Le New York Times renonce aux sacs oxo-biodégradables

Le prestigieux quotidien New Yorkais vient de renoncer à l’utilisation des sacs oxo-biodégradables pour la distribution de leurs journaux.

"Until further analysis can be conducted and verified, we have decided not to move to an oxo-biodegradable bag,” said Abbe Serphos, a Times spokeswoman, in an e-mail message. “We will continue to assess all options and to utilize our current bag, which is fully recyclable and made from a high percentage of recycled plastic."

3- Maux de tête aux centres de tri du Québec

Le débat sur la recyclabilité des sacs oxo-biodégradables gagne les centres de tri du Québec. On y souligne que ces derniers ne sont pas recyclables, induisent la confusion dans les centres de tri et contaminent la chaîne de recyclage.

Réal Fortin, directeur des opérations du centre de tri de Gaudreau a affirmé à la Tribune de Sherbrooke que les sacs EPI: «ne peuvent pas être recyclés. Lorsqu'on les incorpore au mélange, ils causent un effritement du produit fini. Nous ne pouvons pas nous permettre d'avoir un extrant de cette qualité, surtout dans le contexte actuel».
De plus, Gesterra, expert en gestion des matières résiduelles, vient de lancer un appel aux citoyens : « tous les sacs de plastiques oxo-biodégradables, portant la mention EPI, ne sont pas recyclables, même s’ils en arborent l’inscription, et doivent être placés dans les bacs gris voués à l’enfouissement. "

4- Certains points techniques demeurent obscurs

Les plastiques oxo-biodégradables posent plusieurs questions, entre autres, les additifs restent des secrets de fabrication. Les impacts des produits de dégradation restent méconnus à long terme.

De plus, aucune donnée ne permet de soutenir l’affirmation selon laquelle, dans les sites d’enfouissements modernes, les plastiques oxo-biodégradables se biodégradent complètement dans des conditions anaérobies.

5- Relation publique (PR) vs Environnement

Lors du Salon emballage 2008, Hélios Ruiz, directeur vente et marketing chez Sealed Air a affirmé que : les films oxo-biodégradables sont davantage un argument de marketing qu’une réelle opportunité environnementale.

"Oxo-biodegradable film is not the answer. You need light and oxygen [for it to biodegrade but in landfill there is neither."(...)"We would rather make an impact on reducing the materials than have a communications story."

En conclusion, la réduction à la source, la réutilisation et le recyclage restent les meilleures options possibles.
Vous pouvez consulter ici le dossier sur les plastiques oxo-biodégradables

lundi 5 janvier 2009

Point of view: Oxo-biodegradable VS Hydro-biodegradable plastics

I publish here a comment that has been left following my post:
Are biodegradable plastics sustainable?

My question: Are Oxo plastics Degradable or Biodegradable?

It is vital not to confuse oxobiodegradable and hydro-biodegradable plastics.

Ordinary plastic and recycled plastic can now be made oxo-biodegradable.

This is done by including d2w additive which makes it degrade, then biodegrade, on land or at sea, in the light or the dark, in heat or cold, in whatever timescale is required, leaving NO fragments NO methane and NO harmful residues. Oxo-bio can be tested according to American Standard 6954, and is made from a by-product of oil refining which used to be wasted, so nobody is importing extra oil to make it.

There is little or no additional cost, it can be recycled and it is certified safe for food contact. For general info see If all plastic were oxo-biodegradable there would be no North Pacific Garbage Patch.

“Compostable” (or hydro-biodegradable) plastics, usually made from crops, are up to 400% more expensive, many of them are not strong enough for use in high-speed machinery, and they emit methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) in landfill. Also, it is wrong to use land, water and fertilizers to grow crops for bioplastics and biofuels, which drives up the cost of food for the poorest people. See eg The Guardian newspaper (UK) 26th April 2008

Compostable plastic makes sense only if there are industrial composting facilities to receive it in sufficient quantity. Also, as it is expensive to separate compostable plastics from other plastics, many industrial composters do not want plastic of any kind in their feedstock.

Home composting of plastic packaging should not be encouraged, as it is often contaminated with meat or fish residues, and temperatures may not rise high enough to kill the pathogens.

Compostable plastics will damage the recycling process if they get into in a normal plastic recycling waste stream.

They are not really "renewable" either. Just consider the hydrocarbons burned by machines which clear the land, plough the land, make the fertilizers and pesticides, transport them to the farm, sow the seeds, spray the crops, etc.

The same applies to growing cotton or jute to make durable bags. These rapidly become unhygienic if a tomato is squashed or milk is spilled, and become a durable form of litter, but they can be made from washable oxo-bio plastic to last up to 5 years.
Oxo-bio plastics degrade in the upper layers of a landfill, so they will take up less space, but they are completely inert deeper in the landfill in the absence of oxygen. They do not emit methane at any stage.

Paper bags use 300% more energy to produce, they are bulky and heavy and are not strong enough when wet. They will also emit methane in landfill.

dimanche 4 janvier 2009

Are biodegradable plastics sustainable?

Rosemarie Szostak of the LinkedIn Sustainability Working Group Discussion boards wondered about the sustainability of biodegradable plastics.

I believe that introduction of biodegradable plastic should be done in a reasonable way which can demonstrate benefit to the environment. If not, the Boom could turn into a Fiasco such as with bioethanol. Bioplastic has a "great potential", but it is "vital" to introduce them with the suitable infrastructure so they could be properly disposed of.

The principal risks arise at the end of life phase. Instead of being composted, bioplastics may find their way into:
  1. The recycling facilities where they are likely to contaminate the waste stream. For example in Quebec, recyclers have problems with oxo-biodegradable bags which degrade the quality of the recycled products. Recently they encourage people not to put these bags in the recyclable plastics bin).

  2. Landfill where they will increase the generation and release of methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
I share with you the point of view of the members of the group:

Rob Howe said:

Great question. There are two sides to it. Pros: One is that by using bioplastics, the use of petroleum as a feedstock is minimized and biowaste (in the case of bagasse for example) is used in its production. In addition, these products can be composted successfully in professional composting operations. Thirdly, it is a first step away from use of petroleum-only products (however, it should not be viewed as the endgame either. The downsides must also be considered:
  • Petroleum and fertilizer are used in the growth and production processes, specifically in corn-based PLA made by Cargill's Natureworks - this is by far the most well-known material which is shaped into disposables
  • Using disposables doesn't change our approach to consumption - one use, throw it out.
  • PLA which is clear actually "contaminates" the recycling stream as it dilutes the quality of plastics once they are melted, requiring yet more additives to make it usable to constitute new products.
That is the quick and dirty - we have a long way to go in this industry. Bioplastics are a first step but should not necessarily be considered the last.

Another area of growing concern is the potential for producers or consumers to mix bioplastics with standard petro-based plastics which then ruins both the ability for the bioplastic to biodegrade and the petro-based plastic to be effectively recycled.

Another approach might be to use bioresins developed from non-food vegetable oil (e.g., Jatropha) which do not require the use of fertilizer or petroleum in the growth and production processes.

Rob is correct in that if bioresins begin to be used throughout society initially, it would contaminate the recycling stream. On the other hand, there are high volume users (e.g., catering, cafeteria systems, etc.) that control their own waste stream - thereby eliminating the possible contamination. In addition there are many other possible non-disposable uses of bioresins (e.g., everywhere plastics are typically used in our home and factory used).

In my opinion, biodegradable plastics are not part of a sustainable future.

If your target is sustainability, the key is to reduce or eliminate the waste. In Ontario we have been recycling for 20 years and while recycling is better than adding to the land fill, it is best to reduce the packaging we use. The new term for this is PRECYCLE, which refers to fixing the problem at the source. Precycle is the practice of eliminating the waste from the start so there isn't a by-product that has to be recycled... i.e., fix the problem at the source instead of fixing the symptom/by-product.

Short answer - No, not in their current usage. They are a "less bad" alternative in terms of consumable bioplastic uses. It has some seriously bad implications if the disposal is not monitored properly.

The biggest concern with bio-plastics is the "monstrous hybrid" dilemma, a term coined by Cradle to Cradle authors Michael Braungart and William McDonough. When we blend natural with synthetic we create monstrous hybrids. The natural can't be broken down and the synthetic can't be recycled. We thereby lose all positive/sustainability traction. It can't be recycled or composted and must be thrown away.

The bioplastic discussion with respect to sustainability has to include talking about the systems in which it will be created, utilized, and ultimately disposed of. The PreCycle that Scott Bennett talks about is a part of this process. As with all new products and inventions we need to ask ourselves "Just because we can make it, should we make it in the first place?"

Mark Loeb said:

I concur with the responses. Our "green" problem boils down to simple math: we consume more that the earth's capacity to meet the demand. It is estimated that if everyone on earth consumed at the same rate as the US, we would need 3 earths. There is only one end game and that is to use only what the earth can support. It doesn't matter if we are talking about bioplastic, hybrid cars or florescent lighting, we need a structural change in our consumption behavior. We can accept this and plan for it or have it imposed upon us.

Bioplastics do less bad which simply kicks the can down the road for awhile.