Applications of biodegradable (compostable) plastic products


Compostable bio-waste bags, fruit & vegetable bags, lightweight carrier bags

Compostable bio-waste plastic bags support the separate collection of organic waste. They are a convenient, clean,and hygienic tool, which helps households to collect more kitchen and garden waste while reducing the misthrow rate of conventional plastics in organic waste streams. They are instrumental to fully implementing the separate collection of bio-waste from households and are proven to lead to increased biomass input for biogas production in anaerobic digestion plants as well as compost production in industrial composting facilities.Likewise, compostable fruit and vegetable bags and lightweight carrier bags serve a dual function that conventional plastic bags cannot fulfil: they are a convenient way for shoppers to carry home groceries and can after be used to collect biodegradable kitchen and food waste.

Coffee capsules and tea bags

Coffee capsules and tea bags are a part of modern everyday life. These applications need to combine high performance requirements (such as brewing process, food contact, aroma barriers) with an efficient end-of-life solution. After they have been used, the organic content (coffee or tea residues) and the capsules or bags are difficult to separate, leading to confusion about the appropriate way of disposal as well as misthrows. Coffee capsules and tea bags made from fully compostable plastics provide the same performance while offering an alternative that can be organically recycled together with the organic content. Coffee and tea waste are highly desired in industrial composting plants as they stimulate microbial activity in the composting process. Furthermore, coffee capsules and tea bags are amongst some of the mass products that are usually not being mechanically recycled.

Thin film applications for fruit & vegetable packaging

Food that has past its expiry date and is packed in conventional plastic packaging is usually not separated from its packaging. The plastic packaging together with its contents is usually either thrown into the bio-waste bin, where it constitutes an impurity, or the biodegradable food content still inside the packaging ends up in the residual waste bin and is no longer available for organic recycling and thus wasted as a possible valuable resource. The main share of plastic food packaging is not being recycled today Compostable plastic packaging can help to solve this problem as it can be discarded together with its organic contents and without introducing impurities into the organic recycling process. At the same time, it helps to divert organic and biodegradable materials from the residual waste stream. When discussing these specific applications in the context of a circular economy, EUBP recommends focussing on thin film packaging applications that are highly food-contaminated with a thickness below 100 microns such as fruit and vegetable packaging (e.g. cucumber wrappings, flow packs). These compostable plastic packaging solutions could be supported and introduced in the market flanked by educational efforts for a two to three year period until the advantages of compostable plastics for the circular economy are consolidated knowledge along the value chain including the consumer.