PLASTIC PACKAGING MADE FROM BIOPLASTICS AND RECYCLED PLASTICS
Consumer sensitivity towards the material "plastic" is constantly increasing due to the growing pollution of the environment, especially the world's oceans. Responsible handling of plastic packaging and products and the resulting waste is therefore essential.
However, rejecting plastic as a material in principle is the wrong approach. The raw material plastic offers us numerous possibilities and advantages that are indispensable in our everyday lives. Compared to other raw materials (glass, sheet metal, etc.), plastic has properties such as weight savings, break resistance or barrier function. In addition, the energy required for processing and transport is significantly lower than for the materials mentioned above.
Frequently asked questions about bioplastics
What is bioplastic?
Bioplastics are plastics that consist entirely or predominantly of biopolymers. However, the term bioplastics says nothing about the actual compostability and biodegradability of the material. It merely indicates that the material was obtained from renewable raw materials.
Is bioplastic suitable for all areas of application?
We can offer plastic jars and injection moulded parts made of biodegradable as well as bio-based plastics for almost all industries and uses. These plastics are approved for use in food and partly also in pharmaceutical packaging.
What does “biodegradable” mean?
Biodegradability refers to the degradation of the material by microorganisms. This process depends on a wide variety of factors and is not subject to a time limit, but it does depend on the wall thickness of the plastic product.
What does “compostable” mean?
A material may be called compostable if it meets all the requirements of the European directive EN 13432. This states that a compostable plastic material must be at least 90 % degraded under standardised conditions within 6 to 12 weeks.
Is the production of bioplastics in direct competition with the production of food?
There are different types of bioplastics based on different raw materials. These include crops such as maize or potatoes. When bioplastics are produced from these plants, plastic production is in direct competition with food production, even though only small amounts of agricultural land are currently used for this purpose. In addition, there are bioplastics that can be produced from food industry waste. One very common type of bioplastic, for example, is made from waste from the sugar cane industry and is not in direct competition with food.
Another possibility is the production of bioplastics from lignin, a main component of wood and a waste product of paper production.
Each type of bioplastic has its own material properties, some of which are very different, and is therefore only suitable for certain areas of application.
How long does it take for bioplastics to degrade?
The degradation time of bioplastics depends on the type of bioplastic and the environmental conditions. Some bioplastics can be degraded within a few weeks, while others require several years. Polymers, for example, take between six weeks and two years to fully degrade, depending on factors such as temperature, oxygen supply and degradation site (soil, freshwater or seawater).
made of fossil fuels (oil and gas), non-biodegradable, recyclable
from renewable resources (corn, sugar cane), non-biodegradable, recyclable, closed carbon cycle.
from renewable resources, biodegradable, closed carbon cycle.
Advantages and disadvantages of bioplastics:
Advantages of bioplastics:
|Sustainable resources: Bioplastics are made from renewable raw materials.|
|Biodegradability: Some bioplastics are biodegradable and thus reduce waste generation.|
|Vielfältige Anwendungsmöglichkeiten: Biokunststoffe können in verschiedenen Bereichen wie Verpackungen, technischen Teilen sowie der Pharmazie und Medizintechnik eingesetzt werden.|
|Wide range of applications: Bioplastics do not emit any additional greenhouse gases of fossil origin.|
Disadvantages of bioplastics:
|Competition with food production: Bioplastics are partly in direct competition with food production on agricultural land.|
|Environmental impact of cultivation: The intensive cultivation of plants for the production of bioplastics can have negative effects on the environment.|
|Limited biodegradability: Not all bioplastics are biodegradable, and even biodegradable bioplastics require specific conditions to be fully degraded.|
|Recycling challenge: Recycling bioplastics can cause difficulties and affect the quality of the recycled material.|
Conclusion on bioplastics
Bioplastics are a promising alternative to conventional plastics because they are made from renewable resources and have the potential to reduce environmental impact. They can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the use of fossil fuels and contribute to waste prevention. They also offer a wide range of applications in various industries.
However, challenges such as competition with food production, limited biodegradability and the energy intensity of the manufacturing processes must also be taken into account.
A holistic assessment of environmental impacts and continuous development of technologies are crucial to fully exploit the potential of bioplastics as a sustainable solution. The promotion of research and innovation as well as effective waste management are necessary to maximise the benefits and minimise the drawbacks of bioplastics.
Bioplastics products from H&K Müller
CLOSED MATERIAL LOOP FOR A CLEAN ENVIRONMENT
For more than 50 years, H&K Müller has been making products from recycled pre-consumer plastics. We process 100,000 kg of these materials every year.
Thanks to our close cooperation with our raw-material suppliers and our ongoing validation and testing, we at H&K Müller are also able to produce many of our products from recycled, post-consumer plastic materials.
Are you interested in packaging or injection moulded products made of recycled plastic? Almost the entire standard product range of H&K Müller is available on request from different types of recycled plastic. We would be pleased to advise you in order to find or zo develop a sustainable packaging solution together with you.
Frequently asked questions about recycled plastics
What is pre-consumer recycled plastic?
“Pre-consumer recycled plastic” refers to plastic materials accrued from industrial waste that typically builds up in large amounts and is mostly homogeneous.
What is post-consumer recycled plastic?
“Post-consumer recycled plastic” is plastic collected from the recycling bins of consumers or end users. In this case, plastic waste is crushed in a sorting facility before being sorted by type through different technical and chemical processes. This ultimately allows the plastic to be processed into new products.
Is recycled plastic suitable for all areas of application?
Unfortunately, however, we are not yet able to offer recycled plastic materials for all industries and areas of application, as the recyclates currently available on the market do not yet fully comply with the requirements of the corresponding regulations EC 10/2011 and EC 1935/2004. These prohibit the use of recycled plastic materials for food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic packaging where the packaged product comes into direct contact with the recycled plastic. In our view, however, it is only a matter of time before the requirements of the standards can be met by the intensive research currently being conducted. In addition to the plastics industry, politicians are also called upon to create the framework conditions for a functioning recycling economy with transparent and meaningful legislation. We keep you up to date!
Are articles made of recycled plastics available in different colours?
Due to different coloured plastic parts in the raw material to be recycled, there is usually a colour mixing of the recycled material. Therefore, packaging and injection moulded parts made of recycled material can usually only be produced in dark or muted colours. Meanwhile there are several recyclates which also allow lighter colours, but due to the high sorting effort in the recycling process, these are priced significantly higher than classic recyclates.
What are recycled plastics?
Recycled plastics are plastics made from plastic products that have already been used and recycled. They are created through the process of plastics recycling, in which used plastics are collected, sorted, cleaned and processed into new plastic products or raw materials. Recycled plastics offer a sustainable alternative to newly manufactured plastics from non-renewable resources such as petroleum. Their reuse conserves resources, saves energy and reduces the amount of plastic waste. Recycled plastics can be used in a variety of applications including packaging, engineering components, building materials, furniture, containers and much more.
Advantages and disadvantages of recycled plastics:
Advantages of recycled plastics:
|Conserving resources through the use of recycled plastic waste|
|Reduction of landfill waste and relief of waste incineration plants|
|No additional Co2 emissions of fossil origin due to recyclable material cycle|
|Wide range of applications in different industries|
Disadvantages of recycled plastics:
|Quality variations and potential loss of material properties|
|The challenge of sorting and separating different types of plastics|
|Limited recyclability of certain plastics or composite materials|
|Need for an efficient recycling infrastructure|
|Dependence on conscious consumer behaviour and correct disposal|
Conclusion on recycled plastics
Recycled plastics offer a sustainable solution to reduce plastic waste and conserve resources. They can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce landfill waste and mitigate the environmental impact of plastics. However, quality variations, loss of material properties and sorting problems can be among the drawbacks. Nevertheless, recycling plastics is an important step towards a more efficient circular economy and requires continued investment in infrastructure, technology and consumer awareness. By promoting the use of recycled plastics, a more sustainable future can be created.
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