Closing the Loop on Plastic Waste
OCTOBER 11-12 2023, ATLANTA, GEORGIA, USA
About 50% of total plastics produced per year are used in disposable, short life, non-durable packaging and single-use products. Ninety percent of this plastics packaging and are carbon-carbon backbone, hydrocarbon plastics like polyethylene, and polypropylene. Used in thin or flexible film forms or with food, paper, and disposable product packaging, they are difficult to recover and clean from the MSW stream for recycling. In fact, the latest EPA’s MSW data analysis shows that recycling of non-durable plastics as percent of generation is only 2.4% and that of thermoplastic elastomers (rubber) is negligible. These carbon-carbon backbone plastics are non-biodegradable, persistent, and accumulate in the natural environment like the oceans. They fragment and break down into smaller and smaller particles, like microplastics and cause negative impacts as is being extensively reported in literature, press and e-media [The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26132].
Re-designing carbon-carbon backbone polymer plastics at the molecular level to provide for certified and verifiable biodegradable and industrial compostable plastics is environmentally responsible. However, it must be ensured that after use, the compostable plastics along with food, paper, and biodegradable organic waste is treated at a managed industrial composting facility. Managed industrial composting is necessary to divert food and biodegradable organic waste from landfills or open dumps to composting for reducing GWP impacts. The EPA WARM model estimates that recovery of 1.84 million tons of MSW biodegradable organic wastes through composting results in 1.7 million tons of CO2 equivalent of GHG emissions reduction. Complete biodegradability under composting conditions must be validated using ASTM/ISO International Standards and certified by certification organizations like the BPI (North America).
Unfortunately, there is much misunderstanding and misleading product claims about biodegradability and compostability in the marketplace. We will review the science around biodegradability and compostability and learn to identify unqualified, as well as misleading biodegradability claims. This @EnvSciTech article reports necessary requirements for assessing and reporting plastic biodegradation.
In this session, Noah Godfrey from Ampliphi will introduce the concept of “plastic
accounting” - a process used to measure the negative impacts of plastic pollution that are associated with a company’s operations and supply chain. We all know we can’t manage what isn’t measured — the concept of plastic accounting intends to bridge the gap between ambition and action.
Plastics are a ubiquitous group of materials found in almost every supply chain. While they can offer significant advantages over alternatives, plastics’ contribution to climate change and the exponential increase of plastic pollution has created a global call to action.
Especially in the plastic packaging industry, pollution and waste has emerged as a principal concern. As a result, consumer brands are feeling the pressure from regulators, investors and consumers. A complete plastic footprint analysis is the first step to relieve these pressures and to better understand how to implement sustainable systems into their operations and supply chains. Measuring a plastic footprint uncovers accurate and actionable information, enabling informed decision making and unlocking the sustainable potential of a company’s value chain.
For polymer products, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a defining step which helps in setting up the decarbonization and sustainability goals in a more quantitative way. LCA is a method to assess the potential environmental impact of products and processes throughout their entire life cycle which includes raw material acquisition, production, use, and end-of-life. I will be describing current market trends for flexible packaging materials for which alternatives such as bioplastics are being sought. I will present some key jargon used in the industry, and describe what lies ahead for bio-based and biodegradable polyesters (bioplastics) based on some key performance and sustainability parameters.
How can we convert single use water containers from petroleum-based to plant-based bottles, caps, and labels? Bill Horner and his team at Single Use Solutions have been working diligently to provide an answer to this question by establishing Model Sites around the world, to prove the conversion can be achieved in everyday practice. Horner will be sharing insights as to how this long-awaited breakthrough will soon become a reality.
Driving sustainability into products on the shelf requires organizations to thoughtfully consider all materials and ingredients in their products, the byproducts of the manufacturing process and even how the final product makes its way to stores shelves or direct to consumers homes. The full impact of downstream sustainability impact is determined at the planning stages of a product. Learn how to determine where in the process you are and how you can take to make your goods more sustainable.
At SABIC, we focus on various aspects of sustainability that are linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals designed to be a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all". In this presentation, I will talk about our SABIC’s Specialties offerings toward the carbon neutrality goals, including mechanical recycling, chemical upcycling and certified renewable solutions.
Trinseo will discuss how a plastics manufacturer transforms toward circularity. With the evolvement in the marketplace on sustainable products and consumer perceptions, the business model of the plastics manufacturers is evolving, including upward and downward integration or collaborations - developing and securing sustainable feedstocks, expanding sustainable product portfolios, utilizing scientific tools, decarbonization and innovative product design. Most importantly, concerted efforts among value chain partners are critical as circularity can only be achieved through collaborations.
The presentation will highlight green routes that generate value from waste streams via upcycling. Discussed in more depth will be three examples from different sectors, including the 1) upcycling of agro waste streams or CO2 into biochemicals, 2) presentation of the first known industrial bio-based metal recovery from lithium ion batteries and 3) enzymatic plastic degradation to useful monomers.
Chemical recycling of plastics is an emerging route to supplement mechanical recycling since polymers can be converted into monomer form. As opposed to mechanical recycling, wherein the polymer properties degrade with each cycle, the monomers can be re-polymerized without any polymer property degradation. Petrochemical and refining operations of the future will include more plastics oil, obtained from chemical recycling, in the feedstock mix to establish circularity in the plastics lifecycle or to qualify for fuels category. An important step in this value chain is to purify and upgrade the raw plastics oil obtained from depolymerization. This presentation will address this topic with special focus in the areas of mixed plastics and polystyrene chemical recycling.
2020 ushered in a new world: one where sustainability is king—but also one where single use plastics are an important part of everyday life, particularly mixed plastics (such as masks). While efforts to reduce and reuse some materials are growing (and there has been significant effort in shopping bags and straws), some applications are non-recourse (e.g., medical and sanitary) and require end-of-life solutions to deal with the growing levels of plastic wastes. NexantECA has investigated the various options for plastic waste recycling and presents key findings from our reports, and an outlook on the industry.
Part of the global bioeconomy, Stora Enso is a leading provider of renewable products in packaging, biomaterials, wooden construction and paper, and one of the largest private forest owners in the world. Andreas will discuss how fiber-based materials can replace plastic and will illustrate it with customer cases. Addressing the needs of today's eco-conscious consumers, Stora Enso helps customers replace fossil-based materials with low-carbon, renewable and recyclable alternatives for their food and drink, pharmaceutical or transport packaging.
We know companies and consumers want to do the right thing but not as the expense of quality, performance, price or service. From plant-based ingredients to our broad choice of ready-made and custom designs, we've built a customer-oriented approach that makes it easy and affordable to switch to plant-based.
We'll take a moment to dive deeper into our latest, exclusive, bio-based material innovations, how these new materials are tackling real-world problems for consumers and crucially, the importance of intelligent product design in delivering sustainability.
It is good to clarify what biodegradability really means and how it needs to be verified. The only correct parameter to measure is the conversion of carbon to CO2 which must not reach 100% since part of the carbon is assimilated in unquantifiable biomass. Standardized tests under well-controlled and optimum laboratory conditions are needed in order to increase sensitivity and accuracy and to reduce variation.
In order to avoid littering it is strongly preferable to use the term compostable packaging instead of biodegradable. Moreover since compostability entails much more than just biodegradation including as well a timely disintegration and the absence of harmful or toxic components and degradation metabolites.
As biodegradation can be different from one environment to the other, generic claims should be avoided and environment where biodegradation will take place specified.
Finally, nuancing is also needed for distinguishing applications for which ready and rapid biodegradation is required from applications where persistence should be avoided and slow biodegradation can offer a solution.
Biodegradable products occur and biodegrade in all known environments. During the covid-19 pandemic, new large environmental pollution emerged due to the discarding of used protective masks. They can be found everywhere on land, waters, and seas. Certain ecologically oriented companies have started the production of biodegradable masks that are supposed to decompose in the natural environment. Extended areas of applications for ECHO Instruments respirometer system for measuring face masks and women sanitary pads/tampons will be presented. We will present the results and show some ways how to conduct such experiments.
Waste products made from bioplastic can also be found as waste in rivers or seas; therefore, it is important to understand what impact this plastic has to our environment. Algae are the most important group of organisms participating in the circulation of matter and energy in ecosystems. The synergy between bacteria, typically heterotrophic species, that use organic matter and O2 for growth while releasing CO2, and photosynthetic autotrophic microalgae, which use CO2 and sunlight for growth, incorporating nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous), allows for better efficiencies in water pollutants removal. The question on how this system works in biodegradation of bioplastic is very important for ecologists, researchers, and producers of bioplastics. Therefore, a new type of respirometry system – photo respirometer, for laboratory measurement of biodegradation in the marine environment will be presented. Intensive research work is still needed on the development of biodegradation measurements in order to optimize the measurement processes and shorten the analysis time.
A systematic approach using rounds of respirometry and disintegration testing was used to design for industrially compostable and home compostable multilayer packaging (MLP). The study incorporated two rounds of thermophilic composting (58°C) examining various film chemistries, thicknesses, adhesives, inks, and metallization variables. Respirometry and disintegration photography data from thermophilic composting revealed 12 monolayer films and MLP structures with greater than 90% carbon mineralization within 90 days, half the time allotted for certification under ASTM D6400 and D5338. These data also provided insights for MLP structure design for materials tested under mesophilic (35°C) and psychrotrophic (20°C) home composting conditions, demonstrating one structure achieving >97% carbon mineralization in 6 months of composting at 20°C. Thermal properties of the MLP structures have been studied using TGA and DSC, and water vapor transmission rates have been determined for both industrially and home compostable monomaterial films and MLP with many examples yielding <1 g/m2·24h. At 20°C home composting conditions, the laminations of regenerated cellulose with either poly(hydroxy alkanoates) or poly(butylene succinate-co-adipate) yielded faster carbon mineralization and disintegration than either regenerated cellulose or the polyester monomaterial films alone, illustrating an acceleration in degradation outcomes with complex MLP structures when compared to monomaterials.
Trinseo will summarize key trends and developments in our global shift toward circularity. Walter van het Hof will share regulatory developments and industry expectations, and will highlight his experience driving sustainability efforts for Trinseo globally and how the company anticipates on these.
The presentation will focus on aluminium packaging innovation and optimization, as a circular and sustainable solution for the plastic crisis. It will highlight Ball’s vision of the future of aluminium packaging and define key levers for enhancing its sustainability credentials and minimizing environmental impacts.
The presentation aims to show that in today’s world, holistic approach is critical to address each stage of the material and product life-cycle, in order to maximize sustainability performance and be suitable fit for the real circularity.
Sustainable manufacturing solutions are necessary to implement at this point in time. Oil spills, green initiatives and sustainability are not usually topics that go hand-in-hand. However, through research and innovation, there is a solution to revolutionize the industry. In fact, today’s oil response industry solves one problem by creating another. The entire industry has always cleaned up oil spills simply by moving the incident from one location to another, causing another problem entirely. Other products on the market are non-biodegradable and polypropylene-based — single use plastic, which is made using traditional manufacturing processes that can cause land and water pollution. In fact, each competitor's 10-pound boom is equivalent to 3,000 plastic straws, and even minor oil spills can require many truckloads of booms. As you know, these polypropylene products end up in landfills and never break down. To combat this problem and implement green, sustainable oil spill response throughout all manufacturing and all industries, Green Boom is the only biodegradable line of oil-only absorbents. By choosing green, we are able to help decrease the world’s reliance on single-use polypropylene, increase the use of renewable agricultural resources and, of course, reduce adverse environmental and health impacts.