How do you know if ‘green’ disposable plastic products, marked bioplastic, biodegradable, or compostable are actually a good choice for planet & people? All the different terms are confusing. We need clarity. And we need it fast.
We all know that plastic is made of artificially created chemicals that don’t belong in our world. Plus they don’t mix well with nature. These plastics are a big source of pollution, in our water and food, creating toxic health hazards for communities as well as killing marine wildlife.
The Solution To Plastic Poly-bags
Maggie Marilyn, a sustainable fashion brand from New Zealand uses biodegradable cassava poly-bags. They are made from the cassava root, vegetable oil, and vegetable polymers and are produced in Indonesia. These bags, created for them by ComPlast, decompose back to nature and dissolve in water. Maggie Marilyn explains “Some manufacturers of petroleum-based bags will add plant-based materials to the plastic and also claim these as “biodegradable”. A very frustrating piece of greenwashing!”
Currently, these bio-based poly-bags are commercially compostable (99.5% plant material) and they are developing towards home-composting. These bags completely biodegrade back into the environment without creating any type of micro-plastics (unlike the petroleum-based plastic bags). Maggie Marilyn shares more detailed information on their website and by doing so, they hope to encourage other brands and retailers to demand more on this specific issue that is holding us back from being more accountable to our waste. Sharing = Caring!
Currently, these bio-based poly-bags are commercially compostable and hopefully soon for home-composting.
Recycling bio-based plastics
The volume of bio-based plastics is still too small for separation or separate collection. But hey, isn’t this just like electric cars? At first, nobody bought one because there was no charging point. But then, nobody is going to install charging stations if there are no electric cars… Just the same case with the recycling of bio-based plastics. It’s ultimately up to waste companies to break through that problem. Overall, it is expected that by 2020 the share of bio-based and biodegradable plastics will increase to 2.5% of fossil plastics production (read more about this). That’s only a half a year away from now…
Facilitate Consumers’ best behaviour
Collection and sorting, which starts at consumers and their behaviour, largely determine the (energy) efficiency of waste management systems. To facilitate consumers to choose the right route of disposal for packaging waste, pictograms can be used to indicate the preferred disposal route.
Six key points so that plastic never becomes waste
The New Plastics Economy (Ellen MacArthur Foundation) has defined six key points to catalyse change and shift towards a circular economy where plastic never becomes waste:
- Elimination of problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging through redesign, innovation, and new delivery models is a priority
- Reuse models are applied where relevant, reducing the need for single-use packaging
- All plastic packaging is 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable
- All plastic packaging is reused, recycled (rPET), or composted in practice
- The use of plastic is fully decoupled from the consumption of finite resources
- All plastic packaging is free of hazardous chemicals, and the health, safety, and rights of all people involved are respected.
Questions about this topic? Write them down in our comments below. Did you like this? Perhaps you will like our previous article ‘Fashion Industry: Plastic Packaging in a Circular Economy. Doing it the Right Way‘. Do you see mistakes? Let us know! Do you want to stay informed? Sign up for our Newsletter or social via Facebook and Instagram.