Recovery and Recycling Paths of Biodegradable Polymer Packaging - Case Study Kassel City -

As a result of intensive sponsorship and both scientific and commercial research efforts, biologically degradable polymers (BDP) have been developed in the last few years to be ready for practical utilisation. The application of BDP for packaging purposes was considered to be the most practical area for their use.

by Dr.-Ing. Matthias Klauß, Prof. Dr. Ing. habil. Werner Bidlingmaier

BDP based on renewable resources are considered in the regulations of the German Packaging Ordinance [VerpackV 1998] and in the Biowaste Composting Ordinance [BioAbfV 1998]. It is possible to carry out a biodegradability test according to a DIN standard [DIN V 54 900 1998] to determine their compostability. The legislation of most other countries does not distinguish so sharply between renewable and fossil-based BDP, as they have the same properties as being biodegradable. On the other hand, only BDP based on renewable resources made by using agricultural materials guarantee a closed material cycle. This closed cycle may be explained as follows: a plant grows, and a product is made out of this plant, e.g. starch. This starch is used to manufacture a tray, for example, and the tray is then added to the organic waste after use. The organic waste is composted, thus gaining compost as a fertiliser for the plant growth.

BDP based on renewable resources may achieve almost carbon dioxide neutrality (“zero emission”) under optimal conditions, since only the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide is emitted during the composting that was bound during the growth of the respective plant. Raw materials for the production of biologically degradable polymers are renewable vegetable or animal resources and fossil/oil-based compounds. Basic materials for the production of biopolymers can be derived especially from such cultivated crops as potatoes and maize, as well as from by-products (whey permeate) of several industrial processes. Blending of fossil-based and renewable materials is done to achieve or improve the quality of the products. Most of the biopolymers need several additives influencing processing and practical properties. Biodegradable polymeric materials and auxiliary plastics have different application ranges. Polymeric materials are characterised by their solid-state properties as the auxiliary plastics have mostly a liquid or pasty consistency [Tänzer 2000].

Get full article here [external link]

published: Bauhaus-Universität Weimar - Professur für Abfallwirtschaft, Professur für Abfallwirtschaft (April 2005), 4|2005
Keywords: Material Recovery, Policy Tax Instruments, Biomass, Hazardous Waste, Industrial Waste, Plastics, Germany