Biodegradable packaging films on the agenda

Author: Lena Barner-Rasmussen

Biodegradable packaging films on the agenda

What happens if you leave Walki’s Bioska 501 and Bioska Plus bags in the Baltic sea for six months? There is not much left of them, as they biodegrade. In fact, faster than any other material on the market. That’s good news as the Covid-19 pandemic has given rise to more household trash than ever.

Reducing waste is very much on the agenda these days. And thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, households are giving rise to more trash than ever, since we are eating all our meals at home.

These unprecedented times serve as a good reminder on how to best deal with trash. The optimal way of dealing with waste is to make it 100 % recyclable or compostable. A lot of waste still ends up in the sea, putting marine life at risk. Even though trash should be sorted in the bin, finding materials that are less perilous to marine animals is important should some of the trash still find its way to the oceans.

The research on how biodegradable packaging materials actually behave in marine conditions has been thin. The Finnish Environment Insitute (SYKE) decided to look further into the matter and measured the biodegradability of bio-based and biodegradable plastics. Of all materials tested, Walki Plastiroll’s Walki®Bioska 501 and Plus films turned out to have the fastest biodegradability.

“Within six months, the material was gone when placed in the Baltic Sea”, explains Marko Päiväniemi, Export Director, Bioplastic Products at Walki Plastiroll.

The Walki®Bioska 501 packaging films are used for covering magazines, toilet paper and napkins. The Bioska Plus bags are mainly used for holding household biowaste.

The rise of fast biodegradable polymers does not of course mean one should throw trash into the sea or nature. But if it happens, it’s comforting to know that eventually it will biodegrade. However, making sure plastic waste ends up in a bio waste-handling plant is a much better option. Sorting trashes is fortunately becoming a habit in many countries, and will become even more so furthered by EU legislation. What is needed for this to gain even more momentum, in addition to our willingness to buy more than one garbage container to our kitchen, are efficient waste-handling facilities.

Handling biowaste is not always an easy feat. Sometimes the bags can get trapped on the production lines and in the shredders.
“But the faster the biodegradability and compostability, the easier it is for the waste-handling facilities to process the material”, says Päiväniemi.

Päiväniemi foresees that the demand for packaging films and waste bags with fast biodegradability will grow, especially in the EU, where legislation to speed up European’s disposal of plastic waste is currently enforced. Among other things, EU countries will have to invest in biowaste plants.

Biowaste plants are important for a true circular economy to arise. If the waste is burnt, as is the case in many countries, you lose out on the circularity.
“Biowaste plants is the most optimal solution. But even if we experience some litter, it will still be circular if the material is biodegradable”, concludes Marko Päiväniemi.

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