Disposal: What happens to the bioplastics at the end of their product life?

1. After what period of time do the films have to decay?

2. What arises from the decay of the bioplastics?

3. How do bioplastics decompose?

4. How do bioplastics get disposed and/or recycled?


5. Are the printing colours biodegradable?

6. How do workers on a dustcart react when they suddenly detect films in the bio bin? Do they perhaps not empty the bin because they think it is traditional film?

7. From the view of the end consumer: What will happen if the consumers don’t recognise bioplastics and dispose them via the Green Dot?

8. Is there a fee to be paid to the Green Dot inspite of the compostability of the bioplastics?

 

1. After what period of time do the films have to decay?

Bioplastics produced according to the standard EN 13432 with the seedling printed on have to decay after 90 days in commercial composting systems. A regulation in terms of private composters does not exist. The decay here lasts much longer.

2. What arises from the decay of the bioplastics?

The films convert into carbon dioxide (CO2), water and biomass.

3. How do bioplastics decompose?

The specifically developed structure of the polymers offers an ideal source of energy for microorganisms. These convert the films into carbon dioxide, water and biomass.

4. How do bioplastics get disposed and/or recycled?

In the ideal case compostable bioplastics are disposed via the bio bin of the end consumers because they decompose more rapidly in commercial composting systems than in private composters due to the higher temperatures. According to the last inquiry at the end of 2002 about 50% of the German households had a bio bin. Today the percentage should be about 70%. Nevertheless, the end consumer can of course dispose his bioplastics in his private composter. However, here the decomposting time is longer.  This is why the private decomposting is not recommended by the packaging industry. The end consumer can unhesitatingly dispose the bioplastics via the Green Dot due to the currently small quantities in the recycling system. Non-compostable bioplastics which are derived from 100% renewable raw materials and do not decompose in a composting system are usually disposed via the Green Dot.

5. Are the printing colours biodegradable?

There are water-based printing colours which are as biodegradable as bioplastics but these colours are not as common as traditional colours. However, in terms of the compostability of the bioplastics the printing is insignificant provided that the total quantity of the used non-compostable additives do not exceed 5% and the quantity of each component (such as printing colours) not 1% of the weight of the product.

6. How do workers on a dustcart react when they suddenly detect films in the bio bin? Do they perhaps not empty the bin because they think it is traditional film?

Compostable bioplastics have the „seedling“ logo printed on so that the workers will immediately recognise it as a compostable film. Additionally all the refuse collection companies got and get continuous information from various sources about new kinds of packaging materials. So far it has not been announced that a bio bin was not emptied because of this matter. 

7. From the view of the end consumer: What will happen if the consumers don’t recognise bioplastics and dispose them via the Green Dot?

This is no problem for the refuse disposal companies. After the separation process the bioplastics remain as residues and can easily be burnt.

8. Is there a fee to be paid to the Green Dot inspite of the compostability of the bioplastics?

No. Compostable biofilms will be exempt from the fees for the Green Dot until 2012. Therefore the Green Dot needn’t be printed on.