Trade Group Warns Against Biodegradable Plastics
The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) has called for “restraint” in the use of degradable additives in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic packaging, raising concerns about the lack of public data in the use of degradable additives in PET packaging. The trade organization says proper testing and verification must be conducted before degradable additives are introduced into the consumer product stream.
Specifically, the trade organization for the PET plastic packaging industry, says it is concerned that no data has been made publicly available to substantiate or document the claims of degradability of PET resin products containing degradable additives, the effect of degradable additives on the quality of the PET recycling stream, the impact of degradable additives on the products made from recycled PET, and the impact on the service life of these products.
NAPCOR, based in Sonoma, California, says brand owners and decision makers need to take into consideration the larger issues of sustainability, climate change and resource conservation.
In 2007, 1.4 billion pounds of PET post-consumer containers were recycled in the United States, according to a NAPCOR report. The post-consumer recycled PET infrastructure depends on the quality of the recyclables and their suitability for a variety of next-life product applications, says the trade organization. Also, the value of recycled materials, such as PET, is an important economic driver for curbside recycling programs throughout the country, according to NAPCOR.
In addition to the potential impacts on recycling, the trade group says whether or not it’s proven that packaging will safely degrade, the value of the inherent energy used in the manufacture of plastic packaging is lost, not recaptured as it is through a recycling and re-manufacturing process.
Packaging companies are working on new sustainable plastic packaging options, including ones that meld easily into the PET recycling stream. As an example, Spartech Corp. recently launched a family of sealable, polyester products designed to replace clear, rigid polyvinyl chloride (PVC) packaging. The company says the EnviroSeal products contain comparable physical performance properties to PVC.
These EnviroSeal products are available with pre- or post-consumer content, can be radio-frequency (RF) welded and heat-sealed to film or cards, and are well suited for use in food and non-food consumer packaging, electronics and warehouse club packaging, and industrial products. These products can be used in blister packaging, clamshells, produce containers, and display boxes and containers. Spartech notes that the packaging is recyclable into PET streams.
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