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Germany Bans SUP Straws and Food Containers

Germany is banning the sale of single-use plastic straws, cotton buds and food containers, bringing it in line with a European Union directive intended to reduce the amount of plastic garbage that pollutes the environment.

The Cabinet agreed Wednesday to end the sale of plastics including single-use cutlery, plates, stirring sticks and balloon holders, as well as polystyrene cups and boxes by July 3, 2021.

Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said the move was part of an effort to move away from “throw-away culture.” Up to 20% of garbage collected in parks and other public places consists of single-use plastic, mainly polystyrene containers.

Plastic takes decades to degrade and microscopic particles have been found inside the bodies of fish, birds and other animals.

OXO Biodegradable Vs Compostable Plastics

Let’s look at the similarities and differences between OXO biodegradable (Oxo-bio) and compostable plastics.

The purpose of this article is not to say which technology works better, but to understand both technologies better by comparing them. Compostable plastic is a big family so I may reduce the scope to PLA and PBAT when needed.

  • Applications

OXO-bio plastics and compostable plastics such as PLA and PBAT can be used for similar applications such as bags, packaging and mulch films.

  • Carbon origin

Most compostable plastics are biobased (PLA, PHA, PBS, PBAF). However, some are fossil-based such as PBAT and PCL.  OXO-bio plastics are usually fossil-based but the masterbatch can be mixed with bio-based polymers such as Bio-PE for instance.

  • Nature

OXO-bio is not a plastic resin on itself. It’s a catalyst to reduce the molecular weight of ordinary PE and PP to make them biodegradable.

Compostable plastics are plastics (resins) on their own and it’s possible to blend (mix) them with other compostable plastics (resins). PBAT and PLA can be blended together, and both can be blended with starch for instance.

  • Production and Brands

OXO-bio masterbatches are produced by a dozen companies worldwide. The market leader is  Symphony Environmental who market their masterbatch under the brand “d2w”.

PBAT is produced by BASF. They sell it pure under the brand “Ecoflex” and blended with PLA under the brand “Ecovio”. Novamont sells that same PBAT/ PLA blend under the brand “Origo-bi” and the PBAT/ starch blend under the brand “Mater-bi”.

  • Marketing Claim

OXO-bio are marketed as a solution to littered plastics. Plastic should not end up in the environment, but unfortunately recyclable plastic are not always collected and recycled. OXO-bio is a kind of plan B or insurance policy in case plastic ends up in the open environment.

Compostable plastics are marketed as a primary solution, a kind of alternative to recycling. Compostable plastics provide an industrial end-of-life solution to deal with plastic waste.

  • Waste Management in reality

Neither Oxo-bio and compostable plastics are sorted, collected or processed separately. Both have a high chance to end up incinerated in which they are no better or worse than ordinary plastic; with the exception of PLA that emits less toxic fumes than regular plastic when incinerated.

They may also end up on landfills. Oxo-bio will be inert in anaerobic conditions, while some compostable plastics such as PLA will generate methane.

OXO-bio can be recycled with the normal PE or PP waste streams. Plastic recyclers cannot be sure that plastic waste is free from contaminants and will usually add stabilisers if they want to make recycled plastic resins for long-term applications.

PLA is recyclable in theory. It can be mechanically recycled on its own or may be chemically recycled with other plastics. However, it’s hard to recycle PLA alone: there’s too little PLA in circulation and it’s too dispersed. Chemical recycling doesn’t exist on an industrial scale at this point-in-time.

  • End-of-life

Both OXO-bio and compostable plastics are end-of-life options for plastics. OXO-bio will biodegrade in the open air, in the open environment.  Compostable plastics like PLA will degrade in a controlled environment, a composting facility, where the degradation process is started by a human intervention.

  • Residue

OXO-bio and compostable plastics both claim that the biodegradation process will transform their plastic into CO2 (90%), water and biomass.

The biodegradation time frame is different. Compostable plastics degrade in a time frame of 2 to 6 months in an industrial compost. OXO will degrade in a timeframe of 1 to 3 years in the open environment.

In both cases, bacteria and microorganisms consume the plastic and the microorganisms breathe out the CO2. The degradation of compostable plastics releases the CO2 in the atmosphere much faster than OXO-bio. OXO-bio releases the CO2 much slower; so the CO2 has time to be absorbed by the vegetation.

Eventually, the bacteria die and the resulting biomass are the “dead bodies” of the microorganisms. Compostable plastic calls this biomass “compost”. The biomass resulting from the biodegradation of compostable plastics is not compost in the etymological sense of the word but more in the functional sense of the word: it’s referred to as compost because the process takes place at a composting facility. OXO-bio doesn’t claim to produce compost.

  • Degradation Process

In both cases, biodegradation has two phases.

Both technologies start with an “abiotic degradation” phase. The goal of this first phase is to reduce the molecular weight of the polymer to enable microorganisms to digest it. Microorganisms do not play a role in this phase, that’s’ why it’s called abiotic.

The abiotic phase is started by oxygen (oxydative, OXO refers to oxygen) in the case of OXO-bio and can be accelerated by U/V light and /or heat.

In the case of compostable plastics, it’s usually water/moisture that causes the first phase. It’s a hydrolytic degradation (hydrolysis). The degrading phase of PLA can also start with high temperatures. You can see the deformation of pure PLA on a hot summer day for instance. It will “melt” in the sun…the molecular structure will degrade to say it bluntly.

Both technologies have a biotic second phase which is similar but with a different timescale. Bacteria and other microorganisms start eating the residues. Water is released in the process, the microorganisms breath out CO2 and they die to form the biomass.

  • Problems 

Both technologies face problems.

The EU SUP directive bans “OXO degradable plastics” but does not distinguish between oxo-degradable and oxo-biodegradable. Technically speaking, OXO-bio has a second phase that is “biotic” so it would be more etymologically correct to refer to it as “OXO biodegradable” plastics.

There has been an anti-OXO campaign for many years.

OXO Technology has been accused of causing microplastics.

PLA is accused of using food crops (corn, sugar cane) in the production. Technically speaking, it’s only the 1st generation PLA that uses food crops.

There have been court decisions and jurisprudence that disallowed PLA to be referred to as “fully biodegradable”or “leaving nothing behind” as it is misleading as PLA will only biodegrade in an industrial composting facility.

Most industrial composters are not in favour of compostable plastics such as PLA or PBAT because it takes too long to compost and the biomass should not be referred to as compost as it makes the soil more acidic and contains microplastics.

  • Representation

OXO-bio is represented by the Oxo-Biodegradable Plastics Association (OPA) worldwide. Compostable plastics are represented by European Bioplastics at EU level, BBIA in the UK and BPI in the US.

  • Business and Industry

OXO-bio is quite a small industry with around a dozen small companies. Symphony Environmental is the only quoted company and it produces around 70 % of OXO-bio masterbatches. The worldwide OXO-bio market is approximately worth between € 15 to 50 million.

Compostable plastics is a much bigger industry, with big companies. PBAT is produced by BASF (world’s largest chemical company). PLA is produced by Nature Works ( a joint venture between “Cargill” and a Thai state-owned oil company “PTT”) and Total-Corbion (a joint venture between French oil company “Total” and Dutch biotech company “Corbion”). The worldwide compostable market is approximately worth between € 1 to 3 Billions.

  • Certifications

The OPA certifies products as “OXO biodegradable” if you can provide a report from an independent laboratory on successful testing according to American Standard  ASTM D6954 or British standard 8472 or similar standards.

There are two certificates relating to compostable plastics. “Seedling” and “OK compost”. Seedling is owned by European Bioplastics and OK compost is owned by TUV Austria (ex-Vincotte). Din Certco and TUV Austria are certification bodies authorised by European Bioplastics to award the compostable labels “Seedling and OK compost”. The Seedling label refers to and is in compliance with European standard EN 13432. The OK compost label doesn’t refer to the European standard.

  • Geopolitics

OXO-bio technology has a strong British accent. The technology was invented in Britain, the leading producer is British and the OPA is based in London.

Compostable plastics have a strong German accent. Compostable plastics started as a German industry (PBAT and BASF). European Bioplastics used to be a German association called IBAW (Interessengemeinschaft Biologisch Abbaubare Werkstoffe – Interest Group Biodegradable Polymers). European Bioplastics is probably the only EU association based in Berlin instead of Brussels. Din Certco is a German organisation and TUV Austria is an Austrian organisation.

  • History

OXO-bio was the first to market “biodegradable plastics”. Compostable plastics came after.

  • Efficiency

Which one is more efficient: (1) PLA or PBAT in an industrial composting plant or (2) OXO-bio in the open air? The PLA and PBAT will eventually disappear after one or two months in the composting facility. It will take OXO-bio one to three years to biodegrade in the open environment.

  • My Personal Experience

I have published critical content about OXO-bio. Nobody made a complaint. I have published “very” critical content about recycling. Nobody made a complaint.

I have written ( a few years ago) that “I didn’t believe PBAT mulch films were compostable” ….. I was approached by the Vice-President of a German company who told me … “Nobody from the industry (*) will work with you anymore.” (*referring to members of European Bioplastics)

This is Intimidation and a threat. This is also cowardice because he wouldn’t have threatened a New York Times journalist … but who cares about a little blogger, right? Eventually, since that day I haven’t worked with almost any members of European Bioplastics…coincidence or not!

I wrote to another Vice-President of that same German company to share my story and concerns. They didn’t reply. You know what I think: poor corporate ethics and lame code of conduct!

It reminds me of what my first boss told me in the beginning of my career; he was an Englishman working for an American company.

“Our company is listed on the stock market. We’re regulated. We have to respect our shareholders and stakeholders, our behaviour has to be impeccable. Irreproachable!”

You don’t buy ethics or gentlemenship. You have it or you don’t.

In the meantime, a few members of European Bioplastics have asked me not to allow OXO-bio spokespersons to publish content on … as if there was some kind of omerta.

My answer was clear: “We shouldn’t exclude someone because of their ethnic origins, religious or scientific beliefs. It’s against our “right of opinion” and “freedom of expression” not to allow someone to express himself or herself publicly because he or she is a representative from a particular industry, sector or technology.”

We’re not in the 1930s; this ain’t Nazi-Germany! Everyone has the right to speak, every one has the right to work, everyone has the right to make a living, everyone has the right to live with dignity. I shall not be part of a kabal against a minority.

What about: OXO is a source of microplastics and should be banned!

Is this a farce? You think a € 25 million industry is the greatest source of microplastics?  You want to stop microplastics seriously? Then you ban the use of synthetic fibres in textiles. You ban the downcycling of PET into polyesters. You regulate the use of plastics nets in fisheries; you ban the use of plastics in agriculture, etc. Oxo comes at the bottom of the list. But hé, you don’t ban the big guys, right? No kabal against them! To be honest, compostable plastics are as much source of microplastics than OXO-bio if not more!

Banning OXO and the anti-OXO campaign is not based on a sincere environmental concerns. It’s a smear campaign that finds its root in commercial interests.

In memory of all the great people who have fought to give us “right of opinion”, “freedom of speech” and “protection of minorities”…. I won’t be part of this kabal!

Chemical Recycling Europe Position on EU Waste Policy

Although the “10 priorities to transform EU Waste Policy” developed by various European Union (EU) NGOs and associations points at ambitious directions for the waste policy that Chemical Recycling Europe generally supports, restrictions mentioned in Priority 9 represent missed opportunities to improve the current waste and recycling system, leading to some inconsistencies between priorities. We would like to provide some clarification on chemical recycling to refine Priority 9.

Chemical Recycling Europe supports many of the priorities mentioned in the NGO’s joint statement:

Priority to favour waste prevention and reduction as well as reuse in full alignment with the EU Waste Hierarchy.

Priority to prevent shipping of plastic waste to non-EU countries, especially if they do not have the necessary infrastructure, to stimulate recycling and recycling infrastructure in the EU and to avoid pollution elsewhere.

Most Advanced Technology to Measure Plastic Polymer Biodegradation

Priority to encourage the creation of plastic products that follows the principle of the waste hierarchy. This implies support for eco-modulation and measures to incentivize increased amount of recycled content in plastic products, and more generally, in a circular design. The purpose of which is to stimulate the demand for recycled content and circular materials. On this basis, we support an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) expanded to other groups beyond packaging and WEEE.

Priority to clarify the definition and framework for chemical recycling.

We would, however, like to bring some elements of clarification related to Priority 9 regarding chemical recycling:

Symphony Wins Battle of Words with Compostable Plastics Industry

  • I. Chemical Recycling is circular by definition: Chemical recycling represents an overarching category composed of different technologies that aims to close the material loop by converting plastic waste currently not recycled into high-quality products.

These recycling techniques (sometimes described as Upcycling or Advanced Recycling) reflects the essence of what circularity is by enabling the direct replacement of virgin material with its identical quality and properties.

They, for instance, enable the inclusion of recycled content in food-grade applications. These various technologies convert polymeric waste in different value-added materials like monomers, naphtha, syngas, waxes and etc.

Chemical recycling takes on a clear circular approach as the definition of chemical recycling excludes energy recovery: “Chemical Recycling is defined as any reprocessing technology that directly affects either the formulation of the polymeric waste or the polymer itself and converts them into chemical substances and/or products whether for the original or other purposes, excluding energy recovery”.

  • II. Input characteristics should not be restricted: The input of chemical recycling has very little value compared to the input of mechanical recycling. Therefore, chemical recycling input naturally falls into a category that tends to be contaminated and/or degraded.

We, however, fail to see the reason for restricting chemical recycling to contaminated and degraded plastics.

Some plastics are more complex and some do not represent a stream economically viable for mechanical recyclers and therefore this restriction prevents the possibility for these plastics to be recycled. Opening broader plastic waste streams to chemical recycling would enable more plastics, that are currently not being recycled, to be recycled and would therefore complement current efforts made by mechanical recyclers.

  • III. Input origin should not be restricted: Saying that the input should not come from a separate collection, would mean that chemical recycling would not be able to capture the rejects from mechanical recyclers, which represent a significant amount of plastic waste.

In addition, mechanical recycling is also not able to recycle some separate collected waste streams e.g. EPS, LDPE,… Therefore, we ask what the best recycling alternative would be for those separate collected waste streams rather than chemical recycling?

On the other hand, in addition to new plastics, the output of chemical recycling can be used in the production of a variety of materials which might bring more value than plastics and therefore the output should not be limited to new plastics.

Furthermore, unwanted plastic waste of a larger variety can be transformed into alternative oils, waxes, and solvents.

This also results in a reduction of crude oil as a raw material and creation of necessary and useful materials for various industries.

  • IV. Restrictions lead to inconsistencies with Priority 10: Restricting the input characteristics and origins for chemical recycling would be inconsistent with Priority 10 phasing out waste incineration.

Given that the plastic waste going to chemical recycling would otherwise be sent to Energy-from-Waste, the restrictions above imply that you implicitly favour this waste going to Energy-from-Waste.

This represents a missed opportunity to recycle the plastic waste coming from the rejections of mechanical recycling (and therefore from separate collection) or a waste stream technically or economically difficult to recycle by mechanical recyclers.

  • V. Chemical recycling targets a new demand: Chemical recycling specifically targets the demand for virgin-quality recycled content that mechanical recycling can fulfil only for PET and HDPE for a few cycles under strict conditions (for now, and we hope that innovation will enable more!). It targets a circular product and demand that currently cannot be fulfilled.

Praj and Lygos Partner on Lactic Acid Technology

As part of this MOU, Lygos will provide its proprietary yeast platform to Praj for jointly developing into various solutions for commercial applications.

Praj has already developed and offers bacterial fermentation technology to produce lactic acid and downstream products from sugary feedstock.

Lactic acid is also used in food and beverages, in cleaning agents as well as in the electronic industry.

Most Advanced Technology to Measure Plastic Polymer Biodegradation

The global lactic acid market size is estimated at around $1 Bln USD (2019).

Lygos will provide its innovative and high-performance technology, LP1 Ultra™ Yeast Platform and Carbon Sequestration Superhighway™, which is well suited to produce acid compounds.

Praj will assemble other segments of technology backed up by its expertise in process development, optimization, design scale-up and will further integrate lactic acid as a source material in to making Bioplastic, called as Polylactic Acid (PLA).

Symphony Wins Battle of Words with Compostable Plastics Industry

Demand for PLA acid is ~ 200, 000 tons/year, which is expected to increase substantially in the near future. PLA is an appropriate solution to replace single use plastics and reduce the burden on the waste disposal system.

Due to its unique characteristics, PLA offers an improved replacement for many applications. Rising consumer awareness with respect to the need for recyclability, green packaging, and sustainability is driving significant demand globally.

Unlike conventional plastic, PLA does not take decades to degrade, and as such, reduces adverse environmental impact.

Pramod Chaudhari, Executive Chairman of Praj, said,

“True to its vision to make the world a better place, Praj continues to deploy advanced technologies to produce sustainable products. Our focus over the past three decades on environment, energy and agri-process industry complements global efforts to mitigate climate change and is in tune with global circular bioeconomy. We are happy to work with Lygos to co-develop their advanced yeast platform to produce highly valuable organic acid to offer our customers a better opportunity while supporting rural economy. I am confident that this association will open opportunities for both of us in the global renewable chemicals & materials industry.”

Eric Steen, CEO of Lygos, stated

“We are pleased to partner with Praj and the Praj Matrix team whose deep expertise spans commercialization, engineering, and scale-up, construction and operation of similar industrial processes. This is an exciting time where the world’s demand for sustainable, safe products not produced from toxic petroleum continues to grow. We believe our LP1 Ultra™ platform will complement the Praj team’s goal in the lactic acid marketplace. We look forward to accelerating the technology commercialization through this partnership,”

Both companies will jointly pursue identified commercial opportunities globally to establish a leading position in compostable polymers.

Unilever Commits to Protecting the Planet

Unilever sets out new actions to fight climate change, and protect and regenerate nature, to preserve resources for future generations.

Today, Unilever set out a new range of measures and commitments designed to improve the health of the planet by taking even more decisive action to fight climate change, and protect and regenerate nature, to preserve resources for future generations.

Unilever will achieve Net Zero emissions from all our products by 2039. We will also empower, and work with, a new generation of farmers and smallholders, driving programmes to protect and restore forests, soil and biodiversity; and we will work with governments and other organisations to improve access to water for communities in water-stressed areas.

Hands holding a seedling

To accelerate action, Unilever’s brands will collectively invest €1 billion in a new dedicated Climate & Nature Fund. This will be used over the next ten years to take meaningful and decisive action, with projects likely to include landscape restoration, reforestation, carbon sequestration, wildlife protection and water preservation.

The new initiatives will build on the great work that is already underway, such as Ben & Jerry’s initiative to reduce GHG emissions from dairy farms; Seventh Generation advocating for clean energy for all; and Knorr supporting farmers to grow food more sustainably.

Alan Jope, Unilever CEO, explains: “While the world is dealing with the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and grappling with serious issues of inequality, we can’t let ourselves forget that the climate crisis is still a threat to all of us.

Climate change, nature degradation, biodiversity decline, water scarcity – all these issues are interconnected, and we must address them all simultaneously. In doing so, we must also recognise that the climate crisis is not only an environmental emergency; it also has a terrible impact on lives and livelihoods. We, therefore, have a responsibility to help tackle the crisis: as a business, and through direct action by our brands.”

Fighting the climate crisis

Our existing science-based targets are: to have no carbon emissions from our own operations, and to halve the GHG footprint of our products across the value chain, by 2030. In response to the scale and urgency of the climate crisis, we are today additionally committing to net zero emissions from all our products by 2039 – from the sourcing of the materials we use, up to the point of sale of our products in the store.

To achieve this goal 11 years ahead of the 2050 Paris Agreement deadline, we must work jointly with our partners across our value chain, to collectively drive lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions. We will, therefore, prioritise building partnerships with our suppliers who have set and committed to their own science-based targets.

We believe that transparency about carbon footprint will be an accelerator in the global race to zero emissions, and it is our ambition to communicate the carbon footprint of every product we sell.

Chemical Recycling Commitments and Incentives, Deep Sea Plastic, Greece Plastic Ban, NY Composting

To do this, we will set up a system for our suppliers to declare, on each invoice, the carbon footprint of the goods and services provided; and we will create partnerships with other businesses and organisations to standardise data collection, sharing and communication.

The race to zero must be a collective effort, and business alone cannot drive the transition at the speed that is required. We call on all governments to set ambitious net-zero targets, as well as short term emissions reduction targets, supported with enabling policy frameworks such as carbon pricing.

Protecting and regenerating nature

Unilever has been leading the industry on sustainable sourcing practices for over a decade, and we are proud that 89% of our forest-related commodities are certified as sustainably sourced to globally recognised standards. However, to end deforestation, we must challenge ourselves to even higher standards.

This means that we need to have visibility on exact sourcing locations, and no longer rely on the mass balance system, which does not allow for accurate verification of deforestation-free when sourcing derivatives of our commodities.

We will achieve a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023. To do this, we will increase traceability and transparency by using emerging digital technologies – such as satellite monitoring, geolocation tracking and blockchain – accelerating smallholder inclusion and changing our approach to derivates sourcing.

We are also committed to working with the industry, NGOs and governments, to look beyond forests, peatlands and tropical rainforests, and to protect other important areas of high conservation value and high carbon stock which are under threat of conversion to arable land, with potentially devastating impact on the natural habitats.

In addition to continuing to drive sustainable sourcing and an end to deforestation, Unilever is setting out to help regenerate nature: increasing local biodiversity, restoring soil health, and preserving water conservation and access.

To do this, we will empower a new generation of farmers and smallholders who are committed to protecting and regenerating their farm environment. Initiatives that we will drive include securing legal land rights, access to finance and financial inclusion, and development of restorative practices.

This integrated approach will improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and give them leverage to drive the regeneration of nature.

Unilever is also introducing a pioneering Regenerative Agriculture Code for all our suppliers. The new code will build on our existing Sustainable Agriculture Code, which is widely recognised as being best-in-class in the industry, and it will include details on farming practices that help rebuild critical resources.

As we have done in the past, we will make the Regenerative Agriculture Code available to any organisation that may find it useful – with the goal of driving change throughout the industry.

Unilever will also step up direct efforts to preserve water. Already, 40% of the world’s population is affected by water scarcity, and more than 2.1 billion people consume unsafe drinking water.1

We will implement water stewardship programmes for local communities in 100 locations by 2030. To do this, we will take the learnings from our Prabhat programme in India, which tackles water quality and supply risks around our factories.

This programme takes a community approach to water management, and not only helps farmers across cropping seasons, but also addresses the basic human need for adequate and easy access to water. We will build a model for this water stewardship programme, and partner with key suppliers for them to also run similar programmes.

Unilever will also join the 2030 Water Resources Group, a multi-stakeholder platform hosted by the World Bank, to contribute to transformative change and building resilience in water management in key water-stressed markets, such as India, Brazil, South Africa, Vietnam and Indonesia.

To further protect water resources, we also aim to make our product formulations biodegradable by 2030, to minimise their impact on water and the aquatic ecosystems. Although some of the ingredients that we currently use have no viable biodegradable alternatives, we will work with partners to drive innovation and find solutions to help us reach our ambition.

Marc Engel, Unilever Chief Supply Chain Officer, explains:

“Our collective responsibility in tackling the climate crisis is to drive an absolute reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, not simply focus on offsetting – and we have the scale and determination to make it happen.

But this is not enough. If we want to have a healthy planet long into the future, we must also look after nature: forests, soil biodiversity and water ecosystems.

In most parts of the world, the economic and social inclusion of farmers and smallholders in sustainable agricultural production is the single most important driver of change for halting deforestation, restoring forests and helping regenerate nature.

In the end, they are the stewards of the land. We must, therefore, empower and work with a new generation of farmers and smallholders in order to make a step change in regenerating nature.”

Alan Jope concludes:

“The planet is in crisis, and we must take decisive action to stop the damage, and to restore its health.

Last year, we set out a plan to tackle perhaps the most visible environmental issue we have in the consumer goods industry: plastic packaging.

We set ourselves new and stretching targets that include halving our use of virgin plastic, and helping collect and process more plastic packaging than we sell.

While it’s critical to address the impact that our products have at the end of their life, it’s just as important to continue to look at the impact they have on the planet at the start of their life – in the sourcing of materials – as well as in their manufacture and transport.

We will reduce the impact that our products and our operations have on the environment, and we will do our part to bring the planet back to health.”


Unilever sets out new actions to fight climate change, and protect and regenerate nature, to preserve resources for future generations

Mitsui Supports Startup to Reduce Ocean Plastic

Mitsui Chemicals today announced that it has selected three innovative Asian startups to receive support under the Asia–Pacific Low-Carbon Lifestyles Challenge (APLCLC), a program run by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP; Nairobi, Kenya; Executive Director: Inger Andersen).

With the APLCLC serving to support environmental startups, the Mitsui Chemicals Group will grant $10,000 to the three selected companies and work with UNEP to offer them technical guidance and managerial support.

This program solicits submissions from a wide range of Asian startups and selects around 10 companies per year across the three categories of low-carbon energy, plastic waste prevention and low-carbon mobility.

More than 100 companies entered the challenge this year. In partnership with a number of companies and organizations, which include Mitsui Chemicals, the program provides such support as grants, technical guidance and advice on corporate management.

Compostable Plastics

Overview of the Three Selected Startups

AYA Cup (Vietnam) :

Provides a system that promotes the use of reusable cups at universities and event venues.


Biobased Plastics

Recovers discarded fishing nets and recycles them into sunglasses frames and other products.

The Green Road (Bhutan)

Offers a low-cost road paving solution that uses plastic waste as an alternative to asphalt.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Chemical Recycling

This year’s winners

Having established a Corporate Sustainability Division in April 2018, the Mitsui Chemicals Group is actively incorporating elements of sustainability into its management and business strategy, pursuing a transformation of its business model to realize a cohesive society that is in harmony with the environment and health and happiness in an aging society.

As a chemical company whose mainstay products and services involve plastics, Mitsui Chemicals regards the twin problems of climate change and plastic waste as key social issues that must be tackled seriously by means of an integrated response and intends to contribute to creating a circular economy.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Recycling

Mitsui Chemicals and UNEP Support Asian Startups Helping to Reduce Plastic Waste

Coke Goes All Plant Bottles that Degrades in 1 Year

Beer and soft drinks could soon be sipped from “all-plant” bottles under new plans to turn sustainably grown crops into plastic in partnership with major beverage makers.

A biochemicals company in the Netherlands hopes to kickstart investment in a pioneering project that hopes to make plastics from plant sugars rather than fossil fuels.

The plans, devised by renewable chemicals company Avantium, have already won the support of beer-maker Carlsberg, which hopes to sell its pilsner in a cardboard bottle lined with an inner layer of plant plastic.

Avantium’s chief executive, Tom van Aken, says he hopes to greenlight a major investment in the world-leading bioplastics plant in the Netherlands by the end of the year.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Recycling

The project, which remains on track despite the coronavirus lockdown, is set to reveal partnerships with other food and drink companies later in the summer.

The project has the backing of Coca-Cola and Danone, which hope to secure the future of their bottled products by tackling the environmental damage caused by plastic pollution and a reliance on fossil fuels.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Chemical Recycling

Globally around 300 million tonnes of plastic is made from fossil fuels every year, which is a major contributor to the climate crisis.

Most of this is not recycled and contributes to the scourge of microplastics in the world’s oceans.

Microplastics can take hundreds of years to decompose completely.

“This plastic has very attractive sustainability credentials because it uses no fossil fuels, and can be recycled – but would also degrade in nature much faster than normal plastics do,” says Van Aken.

Avantium’s plant plastic is designed to be resilient enough to contain carbonate drinks.

Trials have shown that the plant plastic would decompose in one year using a composter, and a few years longer if left in normal outdoor conditions.

But ideally, it should be recycled, said Van Aken.

The bio-refinery plans to break down sustainable plant sugars into simple chemical structures that can then be rearranged to form a new plant-based plastic – which could appear on supermarket shelves by 2023.

The path-finder project will initially make a modest 5,000 tonnes of plastic every year using sugars from corn, wheat or beets.

However, Avantium expects its production to grow as demand for renewable plastics climbs.

In time, Avantium plans to use plant sugars from sustainable sourced biowaste so that the rise of plant plastic does not affect the global food supply chain.


The end of plastic? New plant-based bottles will degrade in a year

Padi Goes Ocean Plastics BY AXEL BARRETT

The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) has teamed up with eco-friendly activewear company Rash’R to create a line of stylish face masks made using recycled plastic bottles from the ocean.

The face masks are produced by Ocean Balance, a company that specializes in turning recovered ocean plastics and post-consumer plastic bottles into wearable fabric.

The eco-friendly face masks are dual-layered with recycled polyester.

They are reusable and include a filter pocket.

The outer fabric is made with 100% recycled ocean waste polyester while the lining fabric is made of 92% recycled ocean waste polyester and 8% elastane.

Each mask purchase includes five PM 2.5 carbon filters, but more can be ordered on the website.

The face covering can be washed in the washing machine between uses.

Masks are being sold at cost, meaning the company is not making any profit from the sales. “The price you pay is our actual cost,” PADI said. “Our driving incentive and hope: that the PADI community will take precautions for their personal wellbeing, the wellbeing of the communities they call home and the ocean they dive.”

Purchasing the face masks makes an impact on the serious issue of plastic pollution in our ocean while increasing the availability for the important medical-grade, surgical and N95 masks needed by first responders during the pandemic.

The masks come in six different ocean life-inspired patterns for adults and one children’s size best suited for ages 4-10.

Echo Instruments, the Best Biodegradation Measurement Technology

According to the world-leading dive training organization, over 1,267 pounds of ocean plastic have been removed and reused based on the number of face masks customers have ordered so far.

The masks have been selling out almost as quickly as the company is making them.

Those interested in purchasing a mask can sign up for restock notification emails if the mask they want is out of stock.


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PADI is making face masks from recycled ocean plastic

Bubble Tea Goes for Mitsubishi BioPBS

Coffee and tea are common beverage products for people nowadays.

However, a new tea-based drink called bubble tea has become a phenomenon from its popularity in recent years across the globe, especially in Southeast Asia.

In a recent published article from one of the food delivery service of the Southeast Asian ride-hailing company, highlighted Southeast Asia’s growing obsession with the drink.

Bubble tea orders on their online platform has seen a constant and dramatic increase with a regional average growth rate of 3,000% in the year of 2018!

With this increasing consumer demand, they have around 4,000 bubble tea outlets in their networks of over 1,500 brands – a 200% growth in bubble tea outlets in Southeast Asia.

Their data also shows that Southeast Asians drink an average of four cups of bubble tea per person per month.

Thai consumers leads the pack by consuming about six cups of bubble tea per person per month following closely by Philippines at average of 5 cups per person per month.

From this high consumption of tasty bubble tea cup leads to the tremendous amount used of packaging item – one of the most significant piece that comes together is ‘straw’. If you look closely, the bubble tea straw will always have a bigger size than those of regular straw.

This is due to its role in taking the sip of tea together with the bubble for the most pleasurable moment of this famous drink. The special size straw normally made with plastic similar to general size one in the market.

However, Soilable® has made it possible with the very first paper straw coated with BioPBS™ aimed in helping plastic waste reduction and go sustainably.

Soilable® paper straw coated with BioPBS™ promotes compostability & recyclability function as its end-of-life option.

BioPBS™ with the grade that works as a coating material is partially made from renewable resources and certified industrial compostable by TUV and BPI according to EN13432 standard.

Also the straw itself can be recycled and re-pulped to get the paper pulp back.

Unlike any other common paper straw, with the great partnership and state-of-art technology by Soilable® has brought together for the first-ever paper straw coated with BioPBS™ having perfect sturdiness, no soggy (mushy) lips touch, prolonging usage durability.

It also use 20-30% less paper than common paper straws of similar size (7mm) and made from bamboo pulp paper – which is a sustainable alternative to wood pulp paper as bamboo has shorter growth cycle, require less water during cultivation and prevent deforestation from cutting down non-commercial trees.

Soilable® paper straw with the product tag ‘bio Compostable’ comes with three standard sizes; Standard Straw (7mm), Bubble-Tea Straw (10mm) and Stirrer Straw (2mm).


Bubble Tea on the Rise! Now Served Sustainably with the First-Ever BioPBS™ Coated Paper Straw

Sustainable Packaging in Cosmetics Industry

Product packaging sends an instant subconscious message to consumers about the values of the cosmetics brand. Thus it’s design has to align with the company mission and brand identity.

With a wild variety of choice when it comes to product containment, each brand works excessively on their packaging designs to ensure proper customer targeting.

But beyond the factors of material, size, texture, color, shape, etc, the conventional cosmetic industry has a bad reputation of using unsustainable practices and compounds in their packaging.

Fortunately, the modern-day consumer is environmentally aware and prone to make purchase decisions based on more than just their basic beauty needs.

Thus, the introduction of eco-friendly packaging into a cosmetics brand’s production strategy encourages brand awareness and is a crucial step to a sustainable future.

Excessively looking for a solution to the plastic pollution and waste management problems, manufacturers and cosmetic users are slowly changing the industry’s bad habits together.

The Sustainability Trends in the Cosmetics Industry

Why choose sustainable packaging? Packaging is the key to a customer’s heart because it is the first thing a consumer sees when they look at a certain product.

Its design represents the core values of the label and should not be neglected, especially if a company wants to position itself on the market as a “green” brand.

More Statements from More Brands

The personal care industry is evolving and slowly embracing the benefits of biocosmetics and eco containers.

But even though the right decisions in product design and packaging preserve and enhance brand image, many of the beauty conglomerates still depend on unsustainable compounds.

Echo Instruments, the Best Biodegradation Measurement Technology

Plastic remains a dominant material in the world of cosmetics, despite the rapidly increased interest in sustainability in recent years.

Backed up by the fact that plastic is cheaper and liquid product storage is challenging, conventional beauty brands justify their in-house decisions on the matter.

Thanks to innovative technologies and recognition of ecological materials, sustainable pack solutions are starting to catch up on their plastic predecessor!

Every day, more and more world-recognized brands release statements about their strategic plan to embrace eco-friendly practices and contribute to the well-being of the environment.

People Become More Conscious

A raise in the public consciousness on the topic of environmental awareness is just the wake-up call all cosmetic companies needed.

Consumers are more prone to follow, analyze and scrutinize brand promises about sustainability and make purchasing decisions based on their authenticity.

The accessibility of social media and the availability to leave business reviews in search engines and websites gives consumers a strong voice and great influence.

Catching up with expectations is not an easy task, as it requires cosmetic brands to set realistic and clear-cut goals towards the integration of eco-friendly practices.

Any failure to achieve sustainability objectives might turn into a hugely controversial case, and lead to consequences concerning and affecting the brand image.

Sustainable Cosmetics with Sustainable Packaging

Along with the advancement in the production of eco-friendly cosmetics, consumers anticipate receiving sustainable packaging that would match their expectations of product substance, its type, and its properties.

Eco-friendly bags and containers offer a long-term benefit for the well-being of the Earth as they are recyclable, reusable and/or biodegradable.

Introducing a bio beauty product of the highest quality into a plastic container is illogical and unreasonable, as it ruins the basic concept of sustainable cosmetics.

And honestly, it makes a brand look completely unreliable and deceptive.

Investment in natural compounds, bio practices and lack of animal testing, would not be completely justified in case the manufacturer is ready to produce tons of plastic containers that are non-recyclable and will pollute nature for hundreds of years.

If sustainable cosmetics does not come with sustainable packaging, is it really sustainable?

How to Make Packaging More Sustainable

Eco-friendly packaging is the future of the cosmetics industry, according to Forbes.

In order to fully embrace and explore the advantages of sustainable containers, bottles, bags, and boxes, keep on reading.

Design for Refill and Reuse

Environmental problems start with human carelessness.

That is why cosmetic brands that fail to identify and address the plastic pollution issue are at risk of losing their loyal customer base and wreck their image.

The nature damage caused by unsustainable practices in the industry is out of scope, so consumers are on a desperate lookout for plastic packaging alternatives.

At its core, re-usage is a process that is harder to comprehend and envision compared to recycling.

It is also more difficult to actually apply in everyday lives because the mass of people have a certain established way of handling empty bottles, boxes, and containers – throwing away or recycling them.

But can we change our habits? What are the factors that could help us “Refill and Reuse”?

In order to integrate this concept into their lifestyle, consumers have to find the right cosmetic item that has an implemented working system in product collection, sterilization, refill and return.

Refillable goods solve waste issues, decrease production costs and encourage lower purchase pricing.

Such a business model is commonly applied to liquid beauty products like shower gel and shampoo.

Replace Plastic with Sustainable Materials

Another ongoing tendency in sustainable packaging encourages the usage of plastic-alternatives.

The most common solutions include glass jars, wooden containers, cork labels and caps, paper wrappings and bags, cardboard boxes.

There are also bioplastics, recycled packaging, compostable shrink wrap, as well as innovative biodegradable materials (made out of cornstarch, seaweed, bamboo, whole-wheat, banana peels, mushrooms, etc).

It is good to know that there are so many alternatives to fossil-fuel-based plastics, however, most of those solutions are still not widely available.

Thus it is up to each brand to do their research, make their own impact and find potential partners, like Offset Group, that could innovate their packaging into being eco-friendly.

Reduce Packaging

Along with the concepts Reuse, Refill and Recycle, comes another important step towards sustainable branding. Being eco-friendly equals being able to make decisions with a positive impact on nature.

There is barely anything that promotes sustainability as much as reducing future waste through reducing present packaging.

Eco-oriented companies work on their own strategies on reducing the amount of packaging on their cosmetic products.

That includes removing any excessive pack features that are not essential to containment of beauty items.

And sometimes means embracing the other two main eco strategies (Reuse and Recycle), and losing the whole package.


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Eco-Friendly Packaging for Cosmetics: A Step to a Sustainable Future