G7 commits to ending plastics pollution by 2040

The G7 economic bloc of some of the world’s largest economies is out with a declaration committing its member countries to end plastics pollution by 2040, including taking steps to reduce microplastics and consider phase-outs of nonrecyclable plastics and “harmful” additives.

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry meets with Japanese counterpart Akihiro Nishimura at the G7 gathering in Sapporo.

The G7 economic bloc of some of the world’s largest economies is out with a declaration committing its member countries to end plastics pollution by 2040, including taking steps to reduce microplastics and consider phase-outs of nonrecyclable plastics and “harmful” additives.

The April 16 statement from the bloc, which includes Canada, the European Union, Japan and the United States, also included an endorsement of the global plastics treaty talks, which have their second round of negotiations scheduled in May in Paris.

The G7 has made previous statements around plastics pollution, including a 2018 ocean plastics charter that, conspicuously at the time, was not signed by the United States and Japan.

But this 2023 statement was agreed to by all seven national governments and the EU, which attends.

It came in a communique to close April 15-16 meetings of the bloc’s environment ministers, in Sapporo, Japan.

While G7 declarations are not binding, the statement said the countries would “step up our actions based on a comprehensive lifecycle approach, promoting sustainable consumption and production of plastics, increasing their circularity in the economy and environmentally sound management of waste.”

The communique went on:

“These actions include, as appropriate: addressing single-use plastics, nonrecyclable plastics as well as plastics with harmful additives through measures such as phasing out when possible and reducing their production and consumption; applying tools to internalize attributable costs of plastic pollution; and addressing the sources, pathways and impacts of microplastics,” it said.

Andres Del Castillo, a treaty negotiator for the Center for International Environmental Law, said on Twitter that the G7 declaration is halfway between treaty positions of the so-called High Ambition Coalition of countries seeking a strict treaty, and the Osaka Blue Ocean Vision, agreed to by G20 countries in 2019.

Del Castillo expressed concern over communique language that could be read as weakening a potential treaty but praised the G7 for picking a 2040 deadline and framing it the problem as plastics pollution instead of marine plastics litter.

He also pointed to an April 16 social media post from French President Emmanuel Macron endorsing the G7 declaration. G7 members include France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy.

The communique included specific statements endorsing talks at the International Maritime Organization on marking and reporting abandoned fishing gear, considered a large source of macroplastics in the oceans.

Regarding the treaty, the G7 said it expected negotiators to consider “the negative impacts of plastic pollution to the environment and our economy and its related risks to human health as well as the important role played by plastics in society,” and said it wanted the talks to finish by the end of 2024.

The statement from the G7 ministers of climate, energy and the environment comes ahead of the full G7 Summit May 19-21 in Hiroshima.

Source: sustainableplastics.com

An Phat Bioplastics Annual General Shareholders’ Meeting 2023: Approving target profit of VND 500 billion (~$21 million)

On May 15, An Phat Bioplastics JSC (Ticker symbol: AAA) successfully held the Annual General Shareholders’ Meeting in 2023. Accordingly, the General Meeting of Shareholders approved target consolidated revenue for 2023 of 12,500 billion VND (~$531 million), and consolidated profit after tax of VND 500 billion (~$21 million), expected dividend payout ratio rate of 15%, along with other critical issues. 

Regarding business results in 2022, AAA achieved consolidated revenue of VND 15,290 billion (~$650 million), which increased by 16.3% compared to 2021, mainly due to the increase in plastic resin prices in the first half of 2022. Gross profit in 2022 reached 1,086 billion (~$46 million). 

Although the global economy was greatly affected by many factors such as rampant inflation and fluctuation in plastic resin price, causing difficulties for enterprises, including An Phat Bioplastics, thanks to the timely decisions of the Board of Directors, the core business segments including: production of packaging, plastic additives, industrial real estate, services remained stable. Accordingly, the gross profit of the manufacturing segment reached VND 915 billion (~$38.9 million), up 15% compared to 2021, the industrial real estate segment reached VND 118 billion (~$5 million), equivalent to 2021, the service segment reached VND 48 billion (~$2 million), up 44% compared to 2021. The company’s profit after tax reached VND 117 billion (~$4.9 million); net profit attributable to parent company’s shareholders reached VND 153 billion (~$ 6.5 million). 

Regarding the business plan in 2023, the Annual General Shareholders’ Meeting approved target consolidated revenue of VND 12,500 billion (~$531 million), consolidated profit after tax of VND 500 billion (~$21 million). In the coming time, AAA will continue to affirm its position as a leading enterprise in Vietnam’s plastic packaging industry, and at the same time expand its business in other core areas such as industrial real estate, packaging, raw materials for the plastic industry and logistics. In 2023, AAA will focus on risk management of the plastic resin trading business, as well as speeding up handover process of industrial real estate sector that is going to bring in revenue.  

The Annual General Shareholders’ Meeting approved target consolidated revenue of VND 12,500 billion (~$531 million) along other critical issues

To achieve the set goals, the company’s Board of Directors affirmed, AAA will drastically implement solutions and business strategies; optimize the product portfolio, and existing markets, focus on exploiting markets and products with high efficiency, and good profit margins, and at the same time take advantage of opportunities from the global economic recovery and shifting production to Vietnam to boost export markets, in which the United States is the key strategic market. In addition, the company will promote the market expansion of compostable environmentally friendly packaging products, expanding the product portfolio to meet the needs of customers. 

In addition, AAA will continue to invest resources in research and development activities, encourage and implement production improvement initiatives to improve labor productivity and improve product quality. 

In order to materialize the sustainable development goal, An Phat Bioplastics will continue to promote mass communication of AnEco brand and raise awareness about plastic pollution. The company’s marketing and sales will also closely collaborate to spread green consumption habits in the community. 

Regarding human resource management, AAA focuses on training, preparing future leaders, ready for the company’s development plans, and at the same time reviewing, streamlining and improving the quality existing workforce and creating a dynamic, professional working environment, spreading corporate culture with its own identity. 

An Phat Bioplastics successfully held the Annual General Shareholders’ Meeting

In addition to the above issues, the Annual General Shareholders’ Meeting also approved the dividend payout ratio rate for 2023 of 15%, and the dismissal of Mr. Dinh Xuan Cuong as a member of the BOD and the appointment of Ms. Hoa Thi Thu Ha as a new member of the Board of Directors. 

Towards a circular economy through next-generation bioplastics

The path to a green society could be boosted by increasing the productivity of agricultural crops that are providing cellulose to make environmentally friendly bioplastics.

Perched on the edge of the Sea of Japan, the city of Kanazawa is famed for its seafood and sushi. A morning stroll in the market offers fleshy snow crabs, rock oysters and a host of other delicacies. But marine life around Kanazawa, along with the rest of the planet, faces a grave threat from plastic pollution.

It is estimated that 14 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the ocean every year. Wildlife including fish and birds can consume this waste or get snagged in it.

Kenji Takahashi, a chemical engineer at Kanazawa University, notes that the problem of waste in the oceans is exacerbated by the fact that most plastics take decades or even centuries to decompose.

A team from Kanazawa University is creating a new class of plastics made from plant-based materials, instead of petroleum. And to ensure their efforts are commercially viable, they are collaborating with Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank’s technology-based finance team.

Bioplastics, synthesized from plant sugars or engineered from microorganisms, boast many benefits over traditional plastics, including a smaller carbon footprint, enhanced biodegradability, and a reduced reliance on fossil fuels. Cellulose, the main constituent of plant fibre and one of the most abundant organic compounds on earth, is a key material, and scientists are figuring out how use it to synthesize bioplastics efficiently.

Cellulose is comprised of long chains of glucose units joined by strong bonds. “Dissolving cellulose efficiently and quickly is not easy, because of its inter- and intra-molecular hydrogen bonding,” says Takahashi.

For a long time, there was no good way to dissolve cellulose, says Romain Milotskyi, an assistant professor in Takahashi’s lab. Chemists had to rely on heterogeneous reactions to make cellulose-based plastics, and these required corrosive chemicals, high temperatures, additional catalysts and long reaction times.

This all changed with the introduction, 20 years ago, of new materials called ionic liquids which solved these problems and offered the added benefits of being catalysts, non-toxic and non-flammable.

Takahashi’s lab, for instance, demonstrated in 2015 how an ionic liquid — 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate (EmimOAc) — helps dissolution of cellulose in batches. Later in 2021, they reported how the combination of an ionic liquid with efficient mixing and reactions in an extruder could break down cellulose within minutes, yielding a biodegradable plastic with a high reaction efficiency of more than 90%.

“Ionic liquids really allowed us to obtain more dissolved cellulose,” says Milotskyi. Direct modification of agricultural resources for bioplastics will help upcycling agri-food losses, creating a circular economy, he adds.

Treasure from waste

Both researchers say there’s still much room for improvement. “We want to find ionic liquids that can dissolve higher amounts of cellulose at a lower temperature, because lower temperatures mean lower emission of carbon dioxide.”

But as the number of ionic liquids grows, so does the task of assessing their suitability for bioplastics manufacture. Artificial intelligence can lend insights into a candidate compound’s

viscosity, melting point, dissolving power, and other physicochemical properties, thus providing “a time- and cost-effective way for choosing the right ionic liquid,” Takahashi says.

This year, his team also announced they had figured out a way to synthesize cellulose mixed esters, a type of bioplastic, in a continuous fashion. For Takahashi, the ultimate goal is to create bioplastics from agricultural waste, such as the by-products of sugar beet or banana cultivation.

Supersizing plant cells

For bioplastics to make a dent in the waste problem, they will have to be produced efficiently on a huge scale. A key aspect of this is having enough source material, a problem that could be solved by enhancing plant growth and production.

Masaki Ito, a plant molecular biologist at Kanazawa University, believes the answer lies in a mechanism called DNA endoreplication. The process, which occurs naturally in most flowering plants, gives rise to extra copies of genomic DNA in a cell, which increases the size of the cell.

In 2011, Ito’s lab was studying how cells divide and proliferate in Arabidopsis when they stumbled upon mutant plants with exceptionally large cells due to genome duplications. “That’s when we came up with the idea that DNA endoreplication might be useful for breeding crop plants with enlarged organs,” offering more raw material for bioplastics, he explains.

Since then, Ito has been working to better understand how DNA endoreplication works. Last year, for instance, he and his collaborators identified a protein called SCL28 that plays a critical role in kicking off the endoreplication process in Arabidopsis.

Boosting plant growth

DNA endoreplication isn’t without issues: while the size of individual cells may increase, the overall number of cells in the organ often falls, resulting in a trade off when it comes to plant size.

“We’re trying to uncover the mechanism for this trade-off,” says Ito, “and to see if we can find a way to increase cell size without affecting cell number.” He and his colleagues believe that SCL28 is a key to understand the mechanisms underlying the trade-off and, subsequently, to realize substantially increased plant growth.

Among crop plants, sugar beet is a particularly important material for bioplastic production, because its agricultural by-product serves as an ideal starting material. The ultimate goal of Ito’s team is realizing better growth of sugar beet by manipulating cell size and number, and increasing production of bioplastic source materials without expanding cultivation areas.

They are using Arabidopsis to find out how DNA endoreplication and the trade-off between cell size and number can be manipulated artificially in growing plants. They then plan to apply the techniques from their work on Arabidopsis to sugar beet, which will potentially result in enhanced DNA endoreplication that will see the latter producing plants with large juicy taproots.

These advances might prove useful very soon. Takahashi’s group is already looking to create bioplastic products from agricultural waste, such as banana stems and beet pulp. For example, his group is in the initial stages of collaboration with a large multinational luxury retailer and a commercial bath products company to create new sustainable products, such as polyethylene bottles made with banana-stem pulp. For Takahashi, these collaborations are a positive sign, signalling the beginning of “creating a green, sustainable society.”

Plastics without pollution? Lab-made enzymes could be key to creating new bioplastics

A London-based start-up, FabricNano, is developing a system to produce plastics without oil and gas in a bid to make bio-based and sustainable chemicals more commonly available.

The chemical sector is currently the largest industrial consumer of both oil and gas, according to the International Energy Agency.

FabricNano’s bio-manufacturing tech, on the other hand, uses enzymes, a natural catalyst typically made of a protein that accelerates chemical reactions.

“Proteins are these beautiful machinery that are capable of doing chemistry that we find all over nature and all within biology,” said Grant Aarons, the CEO, and co-founder of FabricNano.

“Essentially, a protein can do any material production and any chemical production that we can think of today”.

‘We need better materials’

FabricNano specialises in cell-free biomanufacturing – the process of engineering biological processes outside of a cell to produce a product, biological materials, biofuels and chemicals.

Biomanufacturing uses biological systems such as living microorganisms and enzymes to produce molecules used in the agricultural, food, material, energy, and pharmaceutical industries.

FabricNano argues that using enzymes can break the chemical industry’s current reliance on fossil fuels to make products such as plastics or pharmaceutical drugs.

The company says the production cost for most commodity chemicals including plastics is currently low because the petrochemicals used in the production are cheap.

“In order to attack that you need to make an enzymatic process that approaches those techno-economics,” said Eliza Eddison, co-founder and VP of Operations at FabricNano.

Enzymes are already used to create chemicals and foodstuffs, but designing them to survive in an industrial production process and turn them into plastic, paint or pharmaceuticals without using oil or gas may be some way off.

“We need better materials that are more symbiotic with our way of life on planet Earth. But we do need to make systematic change and we need to have a lot of solutions to solve some of the problems we’re facing today,” Aarons said.

Uganda scientists invent bioplastics for wrapping nursery seedlings from farm wastes

Agricultural scientists from Uganda have invented biodegradable plastics for use in wrapping nursery seedlings made from farm wastes in a bid to face off non-biodegradable plastics that seedlings nursery operators have been using and which causes environmental degradation. 

The new invention was revealed by scientists from the National Agricultural Crop Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) in Wakiso District last month while releasing their research findings about the use of agricultural waste to develop biodegradable plastics. 

According to Dr. Ephraim Nuwamanya, the head of the biochemistry unit at NaCRRI, the invention is in collaboration with the University of Bangor, UK, with funding worth £80,000 (about Shs369m) from the UK government running for 10 months. 

“There is an extensive need to produce biodegradable plastics that have the ability to decompose in a short period of time hence saving the environment,” said Nuwamanya  adding that nursery seed operators are using millions of tonnes of plastics which they later dump in farmlands, leading to soil degradation. 

The production of the biodegradable plastics, he says, can be achieved using agricultural waste such as banana and cassava peels, maize waste, wheat straw and rice straw, among others. 

Statistics by the country’s National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro) indicates that Uganda produces about 1.4 million tonnes per year of agricultural waste from 6.5 million vegetable processing and other crops residues. 

It is because of this that NaCRRI scientists came up with the concept of processing biodegradable plastics, specifically for wrapping seedlings in nursery beds. 

Biodegradable plastics making process 

While developing the product, the team collects agricultural waste from plants, including cassava, maize, bananas and sorghum, among others, from farmer fields. 

The materials are then left to dry and crushed into powder form before being mixed with water and sodium chloride. The solution is then heated, thereby producing a paste. 

The paste is then passed through a machine called thinner to make a paper-like lining. It is then put in an oven to dry. 

This is later put in a silk gel and dried once again in order to come up with a bioplastic product. 

The production was performed at Bangor University in the UK, who have the required machinery for processing the product. 

They processed 90 metres of the biodegradable plastic sheets, which were then shipped to Uganda. 

Advantages of the bioplastics 

According to the scientists, biodegradable plastics form organic matter, which once planted with seedlings in the soil, degrades after six months, thereby adding nutrients to the soil. 

Once mass production kicks off in the country, the project will be an income-earning initiative to farmers because the waste material will be purchased from farmers. 

And now, Nuwamanya and team intend to formalise intellectual property issues with Uganda Bureau of Standards in order to roll out the technology with a call on private sector to come on board for commercialization purposes. 

Nearly 90% of people call on UK government to support compostables as “solution to plastic crisis”

New data shows that the majority of UK adults support substituting conventional plastic with compostable alternatives and want local authorities and government to do more to incentivise the collection of compostable packaging. 

A survey of 1734 UK adults conducted by YouGov found 89% of respondents support local councils being required to collect all recyclable or compostable packaging from households.  

The survey also showed that over 60% of people across the UK expressed concern about the amount of plastic waste created in their households from daily life. 86% of people also supported enabling the collection of compostable packaging alongside food waste. 

The survey was commissioned by TIPA, a developer and manufacturer of compostable packaging solutions. 

In addition to improving collection services, the survey also canvassed views on a range of other policy interventions to support tackling plastic waste. 

Plastics are clogging up our seas and rivers with terrifying consequences for our marine life and the wider environment. 

85% of people supported banning conventional plastic packaging where alternative compostable solutions were available, with 70% of people viewing a product more positively when packaged in compostable packaging. 

When asked whether they felt Government, brands and retailers were making as much effort as possible (with 0 being the least and 10 being the most) to reduce plastic waste, the survey showed that over half of the public think the Government, brands and retailers are not doing enough to tackle plastic waste. 

Brands and retailers were deemed to be doing slightly more than the Government to reduce plastic waste with 44% rating the Government’s achievements as 5 or above, compared to 49% for brands and retailers. 

Commenting on the survey, Co-founder and CEO of TIPA, Daphna Nissenbaum, said: “Plastics are clogging up our seas and rivers with terrifying consequences for our marine life and the wider environment. They are now so pervasive that microplastics have even been detected in human blood. 

“It is encouraging to see such public support for compostables, but without government investment and the appropriate policy frameworks, the required collection infrastructure is unlikely to be in place to respond to overwhelming consumer appetite to mainstream compostable packaging. 

Nissenbaum says that the findings of the survey confirm that DEFRA would command “broad public support” if it introduced a new effective policy mandating the collection of compostable packaging alongside food waste across England to ensure that materials are composted at end of life. 

“If the Government is committed to achieving its plastic reduction targets by 2025 it should consider supporting the development and growth of the compostables industry – or risk handing the advantage to polluting conventional plastic.” 

(According to The Circular: https://www.circularonline.co.uk/news/89-of-people-call-on-uk-government-to-support-compostables-as-a-solution-to-plastic-crisis/) 

Japan’s Mitsui eyes building $550m U.S. bioplastics plant

Bio-PET factory, one of world’s largest, would cut carbon emissions tied to drink bottles.  

TOKYO — Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co. will decide next year whether to build a bioplastics factory in the southeastern U.S., creating one of the largest production sites worldwide for the plant-based packaging material. 

The proposed bio-PET plastics factory, with an annual capacity of 400,000 tonnes, could open in 2025. Investment is estimated at $550 million. Mitsui has signed a memorandum of understanding with U.S.-based chemical company Petron Scientech to explore a joint venture. 

Bio-PET, short for bio-based polyethylene terephthalate, is a plant-derived version of the plastic produced from fossil fuels and commonly used in drink bottles. Carbon dioxide emissions from the factory’s bio-PET plastic are expected to be 70% to 80% lower than from petroleum-derived plastic. 

The Mitsui factory would procure bioethanol made from plants such as American corn and Brazilian sugar cane to produce the bio-PET plastic. Recycled bottles would be mixed into the plastic, which then would be sold to beverage makers as a container material. 

Global bio-PET plastic production capacity now totals around 1 million tons, Mitsui said, a figure that would soar if the plant is built. 

Beverage makers worldwide have set goals to reduce their environmental impact, such as by increasing the use of recycled materials in packaging, but that requires an infrastructure for collecting containers. Bio-PET can complement recycling. 

According to Nikkei Asia: https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Japan-s-Mitsui-eyes-building-550m-U.S.-bioplastics-plant 

New Zealand to mandate compostable stickers for imported fruit starting mid-2025

The Government of New Zealand has passed legislation that will restrict a wide range of plastic products to be sold in New Zealand, including non-compostable produce stickers. Produce stickers for domestically-produced fruit and vegetables in New Zealand are required to be compostable by 2023, while imported produce will need to have compostable stickers by mid-2025.

In mid-2022 the Government of New Zealand introduced Waste Minimisation (Plastic and Related Products) Regulations into Parliament, which were passed into law. The stated aim of the regulations is to protect animal and plant life, and protection of the enviroment as a whole, through banning a number of plastic products. The proposed date of entry into full force of all of these regulations is 2025.

The regulations will apply to any individual, business, or retailer who sells (including suppliers) or manufactures any of the targeted plastic item(s) in New Zealand.

This includes:

  • Manufacturers
  • Businesses selling the prohibited plastics (this includes providing them for free)
  • Hospitality businesses providing these products

As part of the regulations, the Government of New Zealand has announced 3 tranches of restrictions, with some having begun on October 1, 2022, the second set to go into force in 2023, and the third set to be implemented in mid-2025

Tranche One:

The following products are no longer permitted to be sold or manufactured in New Zealand since October 1, 2022:

  1. Plastic drink stirrers.
  2. Plastic stemmed cotton buds.
  3. Oxo- and photo- degradable plastic products.
  4. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pre-formed food trays and containers.
  5. Polystyrene takeaway food and beverage packaging, for example some sushi trays and takeaway containers.
  6. Expanded polystyrene takeaway food and beverage packaging, for example foamed cups, bowls, plates, and some grocery products.
Plastic products banned from 1 October 2022 (tranche 1) and alternatives

Tranche Two (July 2023)

There are several single-use products due to be phased out in 2023. The Government documents define and explain the products for removal, as well as present alternatives for these products, and this information is included below.

  1. Plastic produce bags: A single use produce bag is something consumers see most commonly in the fruit and vegetable sections of the supermarket. They can contain any amount of plastic (including recyclable, degradable or compostable plastics) and are used for the purpose of carrying fruit or vegetables. Alternatives include reusable or paper bags. Pre-packaged produce bags that are sealed before placing on sale are not in scope for this phase out.
  2. Plastic tableware: Single-use plastic tableware is designed for use once or a limited number of times before being thrown away. Plastic tableware includes plates, bowls, platters, trays, and cutlery made primarily of any type of plastic (including recyclable, degradable and compostable plastics) and sold for the purpose of eating food. Cutlery includes any utensil that can be used to eat food – spoons, forks, knives, sporks, splayds and chopsticks. Alternatives include reusable tableware, paper, cardboard, or bamboo alternatives. Plastic food containers and plastic-lined paper alternatives are not included in this phase out.
  3. Plastic straws: Plastic drinking straws that contain any plastic (including recyclable, degradable, or compostable plastics) will be banned. Alternatives include going without a straw, reusable 4 metal, bamboo or silicon straws, edible straws, or paper straws.
  4. Non-home compostable plastic produce labels: Non-home compostable produce labels are made from plastic and are found attached to fruits or vegetables sold in New Zealand. This label is made partly or primarily of plastic which is not home compostable. Alternatives include home compostable labels, or signage at point of sale. Produce labels on imported produce are exempt until mid-2025. This phase out does not include labels on produce for export from New Zealand. Note: Home compostable means meeting one of the following standards: AS 5810-2010 Biodegradable plastics—Biodegradable plastics suitable for home composting. NF T51-800 Plastics – specifications for plastics suitable for home composting.

Tranche Three (mid-2025)

A number of additional items will be restricted as of mid-2025. The Government documents explains these products and their alternatives, and excerpts are presented below:

  1. All PVC food and beverage packaging: PVC food and beverage packaging is a tray, container (either with a lid or without a lid), packet, bowl, cup, film or wrap sold as packaging that contains food and beverage products or with the purpose of containing food and beverage products or with the purpose of containing food and beverage products for sale and made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Common examples include some biscuit trays and containers. 5 Potential alternatives include reusable packaging, recyclable plastic.
  2. All polystyrene food and beverage packaging: Polystyrene food and beverage packaging is a tray, container (either with a lid or without a lid), packet, bowl or cup sold as packaging that contains food and beverage products or with the purpose of containing food and beverage products and is made from rigid polystyrene including high-impact polystyrene. Examples include yoghurt and some dairy bottles. Potential alternatives include reusable packaging, recyclable plastic (type 1, 2 and 5) or paper packaging.

Produce Stickers

The Government of New Zealand plans to place restrictions on non-compostable produce stickers (including fresh fruit) based on a two phased roll out. This will start with a mandate for domestically produced fruits and vegetables in 2023, and then in mid-2025 will include a requirement for imported produce. The aim of this later requirement for imported produce is to allow suppliers time to prepare their systems to change to a compostable sticker by 2025. Compostable stickers on produce exported from New Zealand are not included in the regulations.

For the mandate on domestic produce in 2023, the government is providing a transitional period until mid-2025 to help producers meet the deadlines by requiring:

  1. Functional purpose labels only (country of origin, PLU, database, brand authentication, variety identification).
  2. Minimum of industrial compostable certification.
  3. Permit hybrid home compostable technologies where the entire construction may not be home compostable, but a majority is.
  4. Permit the use of fully home compostable products that are still in the process of achieving final certification.

Source: mfe.govt.nz/actsandregulations

Prepping bio-based nanomaterials for the market

An open call issued by an EU-backed project is giving SMEs and other companies the chance to make their bio-based technologies and solutions market-ready. 

Spanish plastics technology company AIMPLAS has announced that its reactive extrusion pilot line is ready to produce bio-based nanomaterials for agricultural and food packaging solutions. The pilot line is part of the EU-funded BIOMAC project, whose Open Innovation Test Bed (OITB) ecosystem offers the opportunity for technologies and solutions using nano-enabled bio-based materials to be upscaled and prepared for market applications. Following 2 years of development, BIOMAC is now making its services available to European SMEs and other stakeholders in the bio-nanomaterials sector. 

The OITB ecosystem offers technological and market-oriented services spanning the entire value chain through four hubs. The pilot plant hub consists of 17 pilot lines developed by BIOMAC for upscaling bio-based technologies. Project partner AIMPLAS runs the 11th pilot line, which is a reactive extrusion line for polymerising polylactic acid (PLA) and its copolymers and producing PLA-based nanocomposites. 

Added to the pilot plant hub are the validation hub, the value chain assessment hub and the market uptake hub. Services offered through the validation hub are quality control and characterisation, standardisation assessment, and process validation and modelling. The value chain hub focuses on sustainability assessment, supply management smoothness and adherence to circular economy principles. Last, the market uptake hub’s services address a technology’s business, legal and data handling issues through data and innovation management, health and safety, and regulation analysis services. 

As reported in the project blog, the AIMPLAS pilot line is being used in two different test cases within the BIOMAC project. For the agricultural sector, it is developing PLA-based masterbatches with nanoparticles for mulching applications, as well as PLA copolymers for injection moulding applications. In the sphere of food packaging solutions, it is being used to develop PLA nanocomposite formulations for blown film applications. 

Opportunities for bio-nanomaterial companies 

Having validated its pilot lines through five internal test cases in the automotive, agricultural, food packaging, construction and printed electronics fields, the project has issued an open call for expressions of interest. Launched on 15 December 2022, the open call is aimed at SMEs, start-ups, research and technology companies, and midcaps interested in developing their bio-nanomaterial projects within BIOMAC’s OITB ecosystem for free. The aim is to select five additional test cases (e.g. textiles, medical-biomedical, tissue engineering, single use items) utilising bio-nanomaterials. 

Test case proposals must be submitted for preliminary evaluation by 30 April 2023. However, the final cut-off date for submissions is 15 June 2023. The selected test cases will be implemented from September 2023 to December 2024. The BIOMAC (European Sustainable Biobased nano Materials Community (BIOMAC)) project’s online presentation of the open call is available here. 

(According to: CORDIS: https://cordis.europa.eu/article/id/442734-prepping-bio-based-nanomaterials-for-the-market 

More single-use plastics banned in New South Wales (Australia)


Single-use plastics (designed to be used once and disposed of) may be cheap and convenient, but the cost to the environment is enormous.

The New South Wales (NSW) Government is taking steps towards going “plastic-free” with a ban on certain single-use plastic products.

Previously, On 1 June 2022, the supply of lightweight plastic bags was banned in NSW. From 1 November 2022,  the supply of single-use plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, bowls and plates and expanded polystyrene (EPS) food service items will be banned in NSW. The supply of single-use plastic cotton buds and microbeads in rinse-off personal care products will also be banned state-wide.

The National Retail Association, on behalf of NSW Government, are hosting weekly online Q&A sessions, designed for retailers, hospitality, suppliers or community organisations directly impacted by the NSW ban to ‘pop in’, ask us questions and clarify their obligations.

What items are banned:

  • Single-use plastic straws, stirrers and swizzle sticks, and cutlery, including forks, spoons, knives, sporks, splayds, chopsticks, and food picks, will be banned.
  • Single-use plastic bowls and plates (including those made from biodegradable plastics, compostable plastics, or bio-plastics).
  • Expanded polystyrene food service items (EPS), such as clamshells, cups, plates and bowls will be banned in NSW.
  • All single-use plastic cotton buds
  • Rinse-off personal care products containing plastic microbeads, such as face and body cleansers, exfoliants and masks, shampoo, conditioner, hair dyes, and toothpaste. will be banned within NSW.
  • Lightweight plastic shopping bags

The bans applies even if these items are made from biodegradable plastics, compostable plastics, or bio-plastics. This includes those made from Australian certified compostable plastic.

What items are still allowed:

  • Serving utensils such as salad servers or tongs
  • items that are an integrated part of the packaging used to seal or contain food or beverages or are included within or attached to that packaging, through a machine-automated process (such as a straw attached to a juice box or a spoon included with a yogurt).
  • Exemptions apply in certain settings to ensure continued access to single-use plastic straws for people with a disability or medical need.
  • Businesses who serve food or drinks, such as cafes and pubs, can provide a single straw from behind the counter on request to people with a disability or medical need. Straws must not be freely available or visible to customers.
  • Single-use plastic bowls designed or intended to have a spill-proof lid, such as those used for a takeaway soup.
  • Plates or bowls that are an integrated part of the packaging used to seal or contain food or beverages (such as a plastic plate included in a frozen meal).
  • EPS fresh produce trays such as those used for raw meat, seafood, fruit or vegetables
  • EPS packaging, including consumer and business-to-business packaging and transport containers
  • EPS food service items that are an integrated part of the packaging used to seal or contain food or beverages, or are including within or attached to that packaging, through a machine-automated process
  • Reusable cotton bud sticks, such as those with replaceable ends
  • Single-use cotton buds with wooden, bamboo or paper stems.
  • Manufacturers have been phasing out microbeads in personal care products for some time, with approximately 99.3% of products microbead free.
  • Produce bags and deli bags
  • Bin liners
  • Human or animal waste bags
  • Bags used to contain items for medical purposes
  • Compostable liners for Kitchen to Compost service

Source: woollahra.nsw.gov.au