Tag Archives: biodegradable

What Does Biodegradable Really Mean

And why it matters for your business

What Does Biodegradable Really Mean

If you’re interested in starting an environmentally sustainable business, you’ll have to think about whether your products or packaging are biodegradable. For such a common term, though, there is plenty of confusion about what it actually means.

So, what does it mean for something to be biodegradable? In basic terms, the definition is simple: If something is biodegradable, then, given the right conditions and presence of microorganisms, fungi, or bacteria, it will eventually break down to its basic components and blend back in with the earth. Ideally, but not always, these substances degrade without leaving any toxins behind.

For example, when a plant-based product might break down into carbon dioxide, water, and other naturally occurring minerals, the substance seamlessly mixes back into the earth, leaving no toxins behind. Unfortunately, many materials—even ones with a biodegradable label—do break down in a more harmful manner, leaving chemicals or other damaging substances in the soil.

In terms of environmental benefits, the best biodegradable material will break down quickly rather than taking years. It leaves nothing harmful behind and saves landfill space. Unfortunately, not everything that’s advertised as “biodegradable” meets these criteria. If you’re going to run a green business, you should know how to make sure the materials you use are safely and efficiently biodegradable, as well as accurately labelled.

What Materials Are Biodegradable?

Some items are obviously biodegradable. Examples include food scraps and wood that hasn’t been treated with chemicals to resist bugs and rot. Many other items, such as paper, also biodegrade relatively easily. Some products will biodegrade eventually, but it may take years. This includes steel products, which eventually will rust through and disintegrate, and some plastics.

However, conditions are important to encourage biodegradability. Products that will biodegrade in nature or in home compost heaps may not biodegrade in landfills, where there’s not enough bacteria, light, and water to move the process along.

Biodegradable ≠ Compostable

Many organic companies use biodegradable packaging for products or produce organic biodegradable products, but the items may not be as biodegradable as customers think. To make matters more confusing, many items are labelled as “compostable.”

Compostable products are all biodegradable, but they are specifically intended for a composting environment. In the right setting, these products break down even more quickly, usually within 90 days, and they leave behind a nutrient-rich organic material called humus, which creates a healthy soil environment for new plant growth.

Whether an item is compostable or simply biodegradable, it needs to be placed in an environment that facilitates its breakdown. Compostable products require composting environments. But, even some biodegradable items need to be degraded in a controlled composting environment or facility—and very few of these facilities exist in the United States. These large facilities are designed to keep materials at 140 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 consecutive days.

For example, PLA, a popular biodegradable material for green companies, will only decompose into carbon dioxide and water in a controlled composting environment, not in a backyard composting arrangement, according to standards developed by the Biodegradable Products Institute.

With all of these variables, business owners need to communicate clearly with their customers about what they mean when they say “biodegradable.” Even better are those businesses that take it a step further and educate their customers about how to properly dispose of their products.

Biodegradable Claims on Plastic in California

Businesses operating or selling to customers in California will have an extra impetus to be careful with these terms. California tends to have more stringent regulations involving food and product environmental claims (hence the warning labels stating items have been “found by the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm”).

When it comes to biodegradable claims, the state is also out in front with regulations limiting the use of certain terms. For example, in Calfornia, it’s illegal to sell any plastic item, or any item with plastic packaging, that includes a label stating it’s “biodegradable,” “degradable,” “decomposable,” “compostable” or “marine degradable” (or any alternate form of those terms).

It’s also illegal in the state to sell a plastic product labeled “home compostable” (or some equivalent claim) unless the manufacturer holds a Vincotte OK Compost HOME certificate. Vincotte is a Belgium-based inspection and certification organization. Finally, the state bans the use of potentially misleading marketing terms, such as “environmentally friendly,” when they’re applied to plastic products and packaging.

Use Terms Carefully

Whether you’re doing business in California or not, it’s wise to be thorough in planning your sustainable business. After all, terms like “biodegradable” are only meaningful if using them actually helps the environment. And that’s the goal for more and more business owners today.

Ikea considers mushroom-based packaging

Ikea is considering packaging some of its products with biodegradable fungus-based packaging to replace polystyrene.

Ikea, the new biodegradable fungus-based packaging will be more easy to recycle and help reduce wastage.

Joanna Yarrow, head of sustainability for Ikea in the UK, said polystyrene is very difficult to recycle.

“We are looking for innovative alternatives to materials, such as replacing our polystyrene packaging with mycelium – fungi packaging.”

Mycelium is the part of a fungus that grows in a mass of branched fibres, and US firm Ecovative developed the mushroom packaging product, by letting the mycelium grow around clean agricultural waste, such as corn stalks or husks.

Mycelium packaging can be disposed of by throwing it in the garden where it will biodegrade naturally within a few weeks.

Speaking at an event this week, Yarrow added: “The great thing about mycelium is you can grow it into a mould that then fits exactly. You can create bespoke packaging.”

Ikea reelased a statement saying: “IKEA wants to have a positive impact on people and planet, which includes taking a lead in turning waste into resources, developing reverse material flows for waste materials and ensuring key parts of our range are easily recycled. IKEA has committed to take a lead in reducing its use of fossil –based materials while increasing its use of renewable and recycled materials.

“Mycelium is one of the materials IKEA is looking into, but it is currently not used in production.”

Ecovative supplies packaging to computer giant Dell, and there are s a few companies that use the product in the UK.

Bio Based industry calls for legislative push to develop bio-plastics


Bio Based industry

Bio Based industry calls for legislative push to develop bio-plastics

Bio Based industry and Biodegradable Industries Association (BBIA) has called for a legislative framework to develop a UK bio-plastics sector.

Bio Based industry presenting a study carried out by Centre for Economics & Business Research (CEBR) at the House of Lords, it said the UK has the opportunity to develop a domestic bio-plastics industry able to support 35,000 jobs, produce £1bn in gross employment compensation and generate £2bn of gross value added to the economy, with a local production of 120,000 tonnes considering just relevant flexible and food-service packaging.

CEBR’S analysis shows that for the UK to fully capitalise on the industry’s potential, a supportive technological, legislative and commercial environment should be in place.

Key points included:

– The EU’s “Europe 2020” is an example of how support for the bio-plastics industry can be integrated into the continent’s strategy for achieving sustainable economic growth.

– Political support is crucial.

– Legislative support can drive growth.

– Unambiguous standards and labelling.

– A public procurement approach is needed.

“CEBR’s analysis, although limited to packaging, clearly shows the significant potential of a UK based bio-plastics industry” stated BBIA’s Chairman, Andy Sweetman. “The 5p bag charge, with a well-designed exemption for compostable carriers, represents an unmissable opportunity to develop a sector that can offer not just a wide range of benefits within the UK’s bioeconomy but also the ability to improve the country’s resource efficiency and sustainability.”

Why we use biodegradable products

Why we use biodegradable products

Why we use biodegradable products;

Why we use biodegradable products. Biodegradable products are products made with some components of biological or renewable materials the Bio in bioproducts relates to inputs derived from biological sources, including agriculture ( e.g. crops and crop residues dried distillers grains ) and/or food processing ( by products, residues and off – specification materials ). Forestry is another potential source of biological materials.

Why biodegradable products :

The emerging bioeconomy offers the potential to contribute significantly to the overall economy. The manufacture of bio based products provides the opportunity to benefit all participants in the value chain, in particular, primary producers may realize increased economy gains from bio-based materials derived from products that they generate, many of which have been considered Waste materials in the past.

Environmental benefits :

  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions in the manufacture of some bioproducts, compared to petroleum-based equivalent.
  • Increased safety for the environment, reduced toxicity and more biodegradability.
  • Sustainable production of renewable feedstock’s.

Socioeconomic benefits :

  • A diversified and stable bioeconomy sector that strengthens overall economy.
  • Farm diversification resulting from additional uses of agricultural feedstock’s.
  • Development of new industries and products.
  • Increased economic opportunities for rural communities.
  • Reduced dependence of non-renewable fossil fuels.

Health benefits :

  • Potential production of inexpensive medical drugs and vaccines.
  • Development of new drugs not available from traditional sources.