Frequently asked questions and answers about the bio-based and eco-friendly packaging solutions
What are bioplastics?
Bioplastics represent a holistic pathway from a fossil-based cycle of products, to a renewable short life-cycle growth material that has unique and sometimes superior properties to conventional plastics. Bioplastics are not dependent on price movements in petroleum and act as a hedge against rising prices. They are technical plastics and can be 100% bio-based, or partially bio-based or blends. Even though some fossil-based polymers and plastics do biodegrade harmlessly, they are made to add functionality and process ability. These aliphatic polymers are not biobased (of plant origin) and do not contribute to energy reductions, or CO2 emissions.
What is starch bioplastic?
Starch is a versatile biopolymer obtained from renewable plant resources such as maize, wheat, and potato harvests. Conventional processing techniques such as extrusion, injection molding, compression molding, thermoforming and reactive extrusion, have been adapted for processing thermoplastic starch.
Our foam starch is 100% all-natural bio-based packaging, derived from non-GMO corn starch. It provides excellent cushioning and insulative properties and can match thermal performance when compared to EPS foam inch-for-inch. Extruded starch manufacturing requires 70% less energy and produces 80% fewer greenhouse gasses than petroleum based foams.
What does compostable mean?
Composting is a form of recycling. It involves turning organic materials such as food and yard waste in a pile to promote aerobic activity, and decomposition by microorganisms. This process will create heat if it’s performing correctly. Time frame varies depending on the method and environment used.
What kind of plastics can be composted?
Most compostable palstics are made of PLA which typically fall into industrial composting for their resilience to high temperatures. The standard for compostability (ASTM D6400) is based on complete biodegradation within 180 days under current composting conditions. These plastics are not hazardous/toxic in production and derived from renewable raw materials like starch (e.g. corn, potato, tapioca, etc.). They will also decompose back into carbon dioxide, water, biomass, etc. when composted. Not including products that say “degradable” or any variation of that word, including “bio-degradable” and “oxo-degradable.”
Can you vermicompost bioplastics?
Vermicomposting is much more sensitive than traditional composting in that temperature regulations must be held for the worms to maintain their livelihood. Therefore, depending on the type/density of the bioplastic the biodegradation time is drawn-out and could give disastrous results, or possibly gum up the system as the worm castings pass through to the next level.
Where are bioplastics applied?
A biobased plastic can be partly or entirely biobased. Therefore, just because a plastic product is biobased does not necessarily mean the product is biodegradable or compostable because the percentages vary depending on the blend. This term is used to market an eco-friendly product or material, or a more sustainable alternative.
Biobased products include:
- Construction materials and composites
- Fibers, paper, and packaging
- Fuel additives
- Landscaping materials, compost, and fertilizer
- Solvents and cleaners
Biodegradable is typically an eco-friendly product made from mostly renewable materials and can break down safely, by biological means. This process isn’t restricted by a time frame or leaving behind any metals or toxins.
What does CO2 neutral mean?
This is a term used to describe the action of organizations, businesses and individuals taking action to remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as each put into it. The overall goal of carbon neutrality is to achieve a zero carbon footprint.
Is EPS styrofoam biodegradable?
EPS is not biodegradable and must be recycled where it can is reused for various new products. The downside is there are high costs associated with transporting the waste because of its volume to weight ratio. EPS can be recycled, but the economics often don’t work for recycling companies. End of life values did not exist when EPS was created. Today, it is an environmental eyesore. Additionally, over the years consumers have developed a perceived value for EPS, and many consumers are demanding more environmentally friendly products that go away after their useful life is up. They do not want to see the same coffee cup sitting in the yard when the kids graduate college.
Did you know it takes 40 truckloads of collected unprocessed foam to equal one truckload of good foam? It is brought to a grinder that grinds all forms into small pieces. It then is conveyed to a hopper where it is compressed into a brick about 48” x 24” high. You cannot polymerize EPS foam ever again to make the same product like you could other plastics.
Biobased products include:
- It is lightweight, which can make it difficult to collect, clean, and separate from the plastics.
- With limited facilities for recycling EPS foam, transport costs outweigh the value recovered from the EPS after collections and processing making it unsustainable.
- EPS foam is made using benzene ( a known human carcinogen) Over half the United States has banned EPS foam due to hazards of benzene being present in many traditional food service-ware disposables. Foods that have direct contact with EPS foam are affected as well as the people who ingest it. Animals that ingest EPS foam risk blocking airways, and digestive tracts ultimately causing starvation.
Are most mailing envelopes recyclable?
100% paper mailers can be recycled with any regular paper stream. Most mailing envelopes, though, contain poly bubble liners that don’t allow it to be recycled with paper. The materials must then be separated through a process where they’re recycled individually.
What is the minimum % of bio-based content?
Requirement is a minimum of 25% to qualify for certification.