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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Sirane is an innovative food packaging development-to-manufacture company, with expertise in absorbency and material science. They specialize in bags and pouches, absorbent products, shelf-life extension and dual-ovenable products. Their range of compostable, recyclable and sustainable packaging solutions is called Earth Packaging.
Compostable food packaging from Sirane includes breathable bags and films for extending the life of fresh produce. Sira-Flex Resolve is a natural biopolymer which can be made into bags or films, and which can extend shelf-life of products by many days. Other compostable products include absorbent pads for meat, poultry, seafood and fruit. Many of their Dri-Fresh absorbent products can be offered in a compostable form.
Earthpouch is claimed to be an industry first food packaging solution made from a paper with a 100% plastic free heat-sealable coating which is then formed into a preformed stand-up pouch which provides total food security for dry and moist food products. This pouch is easily recyclable as part of the paper stream. They also offer Earthfilm, the same material but for flow-wrap operations. A BARRIER version is now available – with options including stand-up pouch, bag and flow-wrap film.
Sirane’s plastic-free packaging ‘Earthpouch’ won a top prize at the 2018 UK Packaging Awards – taking first place in the Resource Efficient Pack of the Year category.
Simon Balderson is the Owner and Managing Director of Sirane Limited, a company that provides a new pace of innovation and level of service to the packaging industry. He graduated from the University of Manchester with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics.