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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VPZ was founded in 1982 to produce food packaging. Their portfolio is still traditional: papers, films, nets and trays but the company developed their portfolio with an environmental focus to product development. They launched PACKNATUR® in 2013.
Plastic has been an integral part of packaging production for far too long. Nets for lemons, potatoes, onions and many other fruit and vegetables in supermarkets are also made from plastic.
Today, 84% of VPZ products are naturally of biogenic origin. They derive from seaweed, bio polymers from agricultural waste or netting from cellulose fibers. However, their packaging is compostable, recyclable and made from biodegradable materials under their brand PackNatur.
Their PACKNATUR® Cellulose tube netting is made from FSC® - certified beechwood, using LENZING™ Modal have replaced plastic nets for organic fruit and vegetables in all leading Austrian supermarkets. The raw material used is sourced from local beechwood forests. The beechwood, which is recovered from forest thinning, is converted to modal fibres using carbon-neutral processes that respect the strictest environmental standards. These fibres form the basis of their Packnatur cellulose tube netting, which has since been adopted by all leading supermarkets in Austria. Packnatur doesn't let any organic potato slip through the net.
They have also developied organic wineglass labels to complement their net packaging, in association with IM Polymer GmbH, Lenzing Plastics GmbH & Co KG and the vegetable growers association, Marchfeldgemüse.
In 1989, Susanne Meininger took over the management of her father and soon joined forces with him to set new environmental priorities in product development. She has been associated with VPZ Verpackungszentrum for over 30 years now.