The concern with the urgency of managing the current plastic waste, and avoid continue generating more waste at the current rate, has led the RSE committee of the Valencian Association of Businesswomen and Professionals (EVAP) to organize a thematic breakfast around the solutions that the world of plastics is offering this world-renowned problem, which was held on Thursday, November 9 at the premises of the Confederation of Employers of Valencia (CEV) and which had the support of its Managing Director, Dª. Inmaculada García Pardo, very involved in environmental issues for twenty years.
Our institutions have been working on solutions for some time now, the best known being the European Commission’s strategy called “Circular Economy”, whose objective is to move from linear economic systems, which generate waste at the end of the production cycle, to circular systems that absorb their waste, to turn them into new raw materials that revert in the production processes, according to Ángela Osma, Secretary General of ASOBIOCOM (Spanish Association of Compostable Biodegradable Plastics). Osma points out that this strategy not only pursues an environmental purpose, but also seeks both to preserve the limited resources we have in Europe and to promote the creation of new jobs within the new sustainable system, unifying these three objectives: Energy and Climate, Social Welfare and Work and Waste Management.
Within the solutions promoted by the circular economy, biodegradable and compostable plastics (they become “compost” or natural fertilizer at the end of their biodegradation) are a very important piece to eliminate plastic waste. Today, the so-called “biocom” is a new division of the plastics family, announces Osma, and offer a strong added value in different applications, such as food packaging, in which the container can be discarded together with the organic remains of the product in the organic waste container, or even in industrial processes in which the plastic disappears immediately without generating any waste, as is the case of water-soluble plastic in detergent capsules, chemical dosages, hospital laundry bags that are introduced together with the clothes in the washing machine avoiding any contamination, etc.
Jose Mª Alegre, Technical Director of ANARPLA (National Association of Plastic Recyclers) and chemical expert of the world of plastics for many years, takes us into the scientific area behind plastic matter, explaining how polymers create structures with a greater or lesser degradation, to warn us that it is convenient to investigate about the new degradable plastics, because all do not have the same behavior. In fact, the oxo-degradable polymers, sold as “biodegradable” without being so, have caused in recent years a problem that now seeks to slow down from the institutions: the degradation of the plastic with oxygen fragmented the material but did not decompose its molecules, giving origin to invisible “microplastics” that are now denounced appear in our lands and seas, and in the fish we feed on. Alegre also touches consciences highlighting the need we have to be critical of our new consumer culture of “use and throw”, and vindicating the old behaviors of repairing objects instead of buying new ones.
As successful cases of biocom materials, two companies associated with ASOBIOCOM show us their achievements from two very different perspectives and realities: a multinational leader in the chemical sector, and a Valencian SME that commercializes its water soluble plastic at an international level. From the world of the big company, Jordi Simón, Iberian head of the ecovio® brand of BASF, technical director of ASOBIOCOM, and tireless fighter for promoting biocom from different organizations, we are passionate about his project of coffee capsules, made in collaboration with a Spanish SME: Cafès Novell, thanks to which they have managed to eliminate the important residue of the capsules. Simón also shows us that new sustainable solutions do not have to be more expensive, and that the biggest cost that companies can assume is that of non-innovation.
Finally, Mónica García Bustamante, head of marketing of the Valencian company PLASTICOS HIDROSOLUBLES, and of expanding all over the world its range of water-soluble products GreenCycles®, shows us practical examples of ecological solutions that directly solve specific problems: pyrotechnic shells that do not leave waste in rivers, lakes and seas where fireworks are launched, hunting cartridge tacos that also leave no residue in the fields, 3D printing filament used as a printing medium that is simply removed with water, etc. These water-soluble plastic solutions are rated by Alegre as the most effective among the compostables, because in this case the biodegradability is very fast (less than 3 months in water and 6 months on land, according to Garcia Bustamante). Among other projects to develop new solutions, Plásticos Hidrosolubles also collaborates with BASF in the development of a multi-layer ecovio® container in which the GreenCycles® film forms an important gas barrier to prevent oxidation of food.
In short, among all we are left with a message: if you want, you can. Very different companies can work together to find new sustainable solutions, and at an individual level we can also take many steps. We can not wait for someone to inform us, or even fine us how the case will come, to start taking care of our environment. It is our responsibility as individuals, companies and institutions, to raise awareness and act so that all of society modifies its behavior and prioritizes more the care of our present and future world than our own comfort.
And all this said, what small action can we take today to participate in the wonderful project of caring for our planet?
For original post in Spanish click here.