The term "biodegradable" has been used over the past few years, to describe plastics or packaging that could potentially be metabolized by microorganisms in nature, with complete breakdown to CO2/Methane, water and biomass. However, there is significant confusion and controversy surrounding biodegradable plastics since many suppliers have used the term to loosely describe their material/packaging without specifying the conditions under which the material would degrade in nature. For instance, some plastics (like PLA) will only degrade under industrial composting conditions, while some others (like PHA) can break down under a wider range of conditions and environments (industrial, backyard, marine). Given this widespread confusion and the misuse of the "biodegradable" term, many global government and industry organizations have issued guidelines to restrict or eliminate the unqualified use of biodegradable as a descriptor of plastics or packaging. These include the European Commission guidelines (European Plastics Strategy) and the Federal Trade Commission Green Guides in the US.
In line with such guidelines, Ubuntoo's recommends that companies providing biodegradable materials, products or packaging:
1.Avoid unqualified use of the term "biodegradable" to describe their products
2.Any claim of biodegradability should be accompanied by a description of specific conditions and environments under which the material or product will undergo degradation in nature
3.It is strongly recommended that companies provide globally accepted certifications or testing for various biodegradability claims (such as the BPA certification for industrial composting)
Further in line with the position articulated by the European Commission as well as major CPG companies, Ubuntoo recommends that "biodegradable" plastics should not be considered a solution for littering (or worse a license to litter). Appropriate collection and end-of-life solutions (such as industrial composting or home composting) need to be put into place to avoid biodegradable plastics ending up as litter in the environment.
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Total Corbion PLA is a global technology leader in Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) and lactide monomers. PLA is a biobased and biodegradable polymer made from annually renewable resources, offering a reduced carbon footprint versus many traditional plastics.
PLA is a biobased plastic with a low carbon footprint currently used in packaging and food serviceware, and is increasingly becoming the material of choice for more demanding applications in automotive, electronics and textiles.
Luminy PLA offers better heat resistance due to latest developments in lactide technology. High heat PLA is proven to withstand temperatures of 100 - 140°C. This allows manufacturers and brandowners to use biobased PLA as a replacement for polystyrene (PS), polypropylene (PP) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) in more demanding applications.
Total Corbion converts lactic acid into lactide monomers which are then polymerized into PLA thermoplastic resin. The PLA resin is supplied to compounders and converters who produce everything from packaging products to automotive components.
The Luminy® PLA portfolio, which includes both high heat and standard PLA grades, is an innovative material that is used in a wide range of markets from packaging to consumer goods, fibers and automotive. Total Corbion PLA, headquartered in the Netherlands, operates a 75,000 tons per year PLA production facility in Rayong, Thailand. The company is a 50/50 joint venture between Total and Corbion.