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8 things you need to know about biodegradable packaging(on)

Nov. 18, 2019

Consider sustainable packaging? With global attention to this issue, your top management and marketers are likely to ask you to inspect packages that can be composted or biodegraded in the marine environment. Before you start a fairly complex and potentially costly journey, biodegradable bag supplier share the following eight things with them.

1. Biodegradation is a process, not the end result.

Biodegradation occurs when a material is broken down into simpler materials by bacteria, fungi, or other biological means. The end result you are looking for may be home or industrial compostability, which can be caused by biodegradation. The same is true for marine biodegradation.

From the perspective of reducing waste, this term does not guarantee any particular benefit. In fact, doing some propaganda related to biodegradability will bring you a lot of trouble. You may be surprised to find that in California, it is illegal to file a statement related to biodegradability. In Sacramento (the capital of California, USA), some well-known consumer-oriented companies have been successfully sued by local residents for declaring a common biodegradability.

The best way to make a statement is to perform compostability or marine biodegradability testing and/or certification for a biodegradable packaging bag. This may take 18-24 months, considering the need for a series of tests and approvals.

2. Disintegration and fragmentation are not biodegradable.

This is the case with polylactic acid (PLA), which must be broken down into small pieces before the microbe begins to degrade. Keep in mind that disintegration and debris that do not cause complete biodegradation may also form microplastics, which may be worse than the problem they are trying to solve.

Biodegradable T-shirt Trash Bag

Biodegradable T-shirt Trash Bag

3. The certification process is complex, time consuming and costly.

All roads lead to meeting the standards established by ASTM-D6400. For example, the industrial compostability test for plastic films begins with the ASTM-D5388 method, which measures the carbon element converted to a gas as an indicator of the degree of biodegradation and degradation time of the film. The film also needs to be tested according to ISO 16929 (decomposition standard). For reference, when less than 10% of the initial sample material was captured on a screen having a size of 2 mm x 2 mm, the decomposition was successful. Samples must also be tested for heavy metal content and toxicity to determine the percentage of seeds that are germinated in the soil after biodegradation of the plastic product into compost.

Then measured according to ASTM-D6400, all test results are as follows: The biodegradation results under industrial composting conditions tested in ASTM-D5338 indicate that the biodegradation rate must reach 90% within 180 days. According to the requirements of ISO 16929, 90% must be reached within 12 weeks. Heavy metal content and toxicity levels must be below the ASTM-D6400 limit. If your compostable bag passes all of these tests, it can be certified as industrial compostable. (Note that there is no recognized marine biodegradability certification method due to the failure of the ASTM standard.)

4. Biodegradation is not a panacea

Some biodegradable materials are still contaminants. In addition, the result of biodegradation is water vapor and greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and ammonia. Therefore, if climate change is the primary issue and greenhouse gas emissions are the culprit, you have to wonder if this treatment is no worse than the disease itself.

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