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Old 08-20-2019, 09:00 AM
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Default Compostable, Biodegradeble, Greenwashing

With all of the propaganda in the news about being ECO- friendly, are so-called compostable better overall for the environment? I say, so far, the science points to NO.

While customers seeking to improve the “eco-friendliness” of their product packaging have flocked to Clearly Clean’s recyclable PET trays, many potential customers remain confused because of the greenwashing tide. Greenwashing can be defined as the dissemination of non-scientific misinformation about plastics that can result in food processors and grocery chains making material choices that, in reality, are actually harmful to the environment.
Biodegradable and compostable polymers may sound greener than polyethylene terephthalate (PET), but are they truly biodegradable and compostable? These plant-based polymers, in fact, are not as green as they might seem at first glance. Many industry experts agree and are working hard to dispel the myths of bioplastic materials, such as PLA, by educating consumers that recyclable PET actually may be the greener option.
For example, the National Association of PET Container Resources noted that 29.2% of all PET bottles were recycled in the United States in 2017. PET’s recycling success comes from the fact that it is used to make products (bottles) that do, in fact, get thrown into recycling bins and are collected by municipal recycling programs. Rigid food packaging (PET and HDPE) is intended to be—and increasingly is—recovered in recycle streams, especially in the case of PET. So, it makes sense to use recyclable materials.
The benefit of using PET is that there is a large, well-organized PET recycling infrastructure in the United States, as well as increasing demand for recycled PET (rPET) for products.
A serious shortcoming of biodegradable and compostable plastics is that even a small amount of these bioplastics can turn a large batch of traditional valuable PET recyclate into non-recyclable trash that either must be incinerated or landfilled. This is why biodegradable and compostable plastics must be carefully screened from the recycling stream.
The problem is that most composting sites will not take compostable plastics at this time. And they do not mix well with current PET and HDPE recyclers either. As a manufacturer using plastic sheets, I find the actual use of the products to be cumbersome and an tremendous energy sink. The stuff must be transported and stored in refrigeration. It has a short, useful shelf life that is sometimes less than the food product it wraps.
As a packaging engineer, I have been forced by market demands to look seriously at Biodegradables and compostable materials. Customers want the virtue of using such eco friendly packaging. But so far, I am unconvinced we are ready for a major rollout. Unfortunately, major markets, like the UE, are demanding it. Despite the science, governments are greenwashed and will act. Get ready for government mandates for lower quality and higher cost groceries.
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Old 08-20-2019, 11:47 AM
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Default Re: Compostable, Biodegradeble, Greenwashing

I hated the change from paper bags to plastic, but like everyone else, I just rolled with it.
The thing about plastic bags when they first came out, is that you could use them over again.
Now with today's bio bags, or cornstarch bags or whatever they're called, they're almost useless by the time they get home.
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Old 08-20-2019, 12:10 PM
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Default Re: Compostable, Biodegradeble, Greenwashing

I'm for the Aldi method bring along your own bags or pay for em at the register.

My other pet peeve is all the synthetic excess packaging on so many products. I know why it's there but still it makes for a huge amount of excess waste. Especially when you look at it on a national scale.
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Old 08-20-2019, 12:22 PM
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Default Re: Compostable, Biodegradeble, Greenwashing

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Originally Posted by Bamby View Post
I'm for the Aldi method bring along your own bags or pay for em at the register.

My other pet peeve is all the synthetic excess packaging on so many products. I know why it's there but still it makes for a huge amount of excess waste. Especially when you look at it on a national scale.
We have an entire fleet of insulated cloth zipper bags.
Most everything gets put back into the cart without bags, and we put it into ours when we load up the car.

You still can't help but come home with a landfill of plastic.
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Old 08-20-2019, 12:42 PM
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Default Re: Compostable, Biodegradeble, Greenwashing

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Originally Posted by Bannedjoe View Post
I hated the change from paper bags to plastic, but like everyone else, I just rolled with it.
The thing about plastic bags when they first came out, is that you could use them over again.
Now with today's bio bags, or cornstarch bags or whatever they're called, they're almost useless by the time they get home.

Paper bags had their issues but landfill should not have been one of them. They did consume a lot of fiber, AKA Trees, but they also brought roaches into most every household.

The issue with the cornstarch compostable bags, is that they cannot be recycled so they must be separated from the LDPE stream and that is very inefficient. They also do not compost as fast a other organic material so the composter industry rejects them,, for now.

There in lies the rub and for someone innovative and brave,,,; an opportunity.

All the more reason to look at hemp. I seriously doubt consumers will roll up hemp paper bags and light them for a toke.
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Old 08-20-2019, 12:47 PM
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Default Re: Compostable, Biodegradeble, Greenwashing

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They did consume a lot of fiber, AKA Trees, but they also brought roaches into most every household.
Excuse my lack of knowledge, but how do paper bags relate to roaches?
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Old 08-20-2019, 12:49 PM
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Default Re: Compostable, Biodegradeble, Greenwashing

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Originally Posted by Bannedjoe View Post
We have an entire fleet of insulated cloth zipper bags.
Most everything gets put back into the cart without bags, and we put it into ours when we load up the car.

You still can't help but come home with a landfill of plastic.
I'm not exactly referring exclusively to food products. Remember when a fishing lure or a penknife was sold in a little ity bitty box on the shelf? Now everything is placed in huge plastic cards in which a person could destroy the item freeing it from the clutches of it's plastic prison.
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Old 08-20-2019, 12:52 PM
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Default Re: Compostable, Biodegradeble, Greenwashing

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Originally Posted by Bamby View Post
I'm not exactly referring exclusively to food products. Remember when a fishing lure or a penknife was sold in a little ity bitty box on the shelf? Now everything is placed in huge plastic cards in which a person could destroy the item freeing it from the clutches of it's plastic prison.
Indeed.
I'm always afraid of slicing myself on the plastic, or with whatever I'm trying to open it with.
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Old 08-20-2019, 10:46 PM
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Default Re: Compostable, Biodegradeble, Greenwashing

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Excuse my lack of knowledge, but how do paper bags relate to roaches?
Roach eggs are sometimes in the paper and hatch when you bring them into your warm home.
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Old 08-21-2019, 08:31 AM
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Default Re: Compostable, Biodegradeble, Greenwashing

Quote:
... Customers want the virtue of using such eco friendly packaging. But so far, I am unconvinced we are ready for a major rollout. Unfortunately, major markets, like the UE, are demanding it. Despite the science, governments are greenwashed and will act. Get ready for government mandates for lower quality and higher cost groceries.
This is where there will be the battle.

Customers who want 'virtue' signaling -vs- cost savings. The wealthy customers will demand mandates, but the poor will cry foul and fight for lower prices.

No question in my mind the low income consumer will lose




Quote:
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Excuse my lack of knowledge, but how do paper bags relate to roaches?
Corrugated cardboard is a huge problem with insects, as the gaps left by the corrugation process leaves great tunnels for roaches and other insects to lay eggs.

As an owner of a warehouse I can tell you that we always had to be vigilant with cardboard.
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Old 08-21-2019, 09:17 AM
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Default Re: Compostable, Biodegradeble, Greenwashing

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This is where there will be the battle.

Customers who want 'virtue' signaling -vs- cost savings. The wealthy customers will demand mandates, but the poor will cry foul and fight for lower prices.

No question in my mind the low income consumer will lose





Corrugated cardboard is a huge problem with insects, as the gaps left by the corrugation process leaves great tunnels for roaches and other insects to lay eggs.

As an owner of a warehouse I can tell you that we always had to be vigilant with cardboard.
San Francisco Airport has banned plastic water bottles. They claim that amounts to 10,000 PET bottles per day at that facility.


Sugared soft drinks, however, are OKAY.

Yeah, I don't get it either.

Anyone who says they've never had roaches in their house has also never brought a cardboard box inside.
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Old 08-21-2019, 09:28 AM
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Default Re: Compostable, Biodegradeble, Greenwashing

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Originally Posted by Bamby View Post
I'm not exactly referring exclusively to food products. Remember when a fishing lure or a penknife was sold in a little ity bitty box on the shelf? Now everything is placed in huge plastic cards in which a person could destroy the item freeing it from the clutches of it's plastic prison.
Or your fingers. I'm not as concerned with how I bring home my purchases as I am with the fact that everything now comes in a kid proof package which turns out to be adult proof.

I remember when pliers were marketed in 99 cent tool bins or loose on shelves. I managed to get my purchase home just fine.
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Old 08-21-2019, 09:35 AM
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Default Re: Compostable, Biodegradeble, Greenwashing

We held a big meeting yesterday with our European customers and local vender. After 6 months of study, research and development efforts, we are abandoning the compostable plastic for single use packaging. The product will be packaged in compostable paper with compostable sealants and barriers. Paper wicks moisture so even if we coat it, the edge is exposed. We had to find a sheet that does not wick. No one in the USA makes it. But we did find a source.

It will be more expensive, logistically and technically difficult, but the science is proven. I do like being on the leading edge, but refrain from sitting on the wrong side of the limb. Hopefully this puts us in the lead in addressing this segment of the pollution issue.
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Old 08-21-2019, 09:48 AM
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Default Re: Compostable, Biodegradeble, Greenwashing

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Or your fingers. I'm not as concerned with how I bring home my purchases as I am with the fact that everything now comes in a kid proof package which turns out to be adult proof.

I remember when pliers were marketed in 99 cent tool bins or loose on shelves. I managed to get my purchase home just fine.
In a small way it's about better customer presentation of the product. But the large reasoning is retailer demand to make it more pilfer proof or resistant.

Heck look at the lunch meat on the shelves in most of the stores. It is all nicely vacuum sealed in it's plastic bag and then stuffed into a rather bulky plastic container to prevent it from easily slipping and disappearing into the folds of a shoplifters clothing.

I should note here though that I've got a lot of secondary use out of some of those containers witch provides a bit of green in a gray situation.
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