How to start using biodegradable products in your business
Plastic waste management has become one of the main challenges to improve the health of our planet. Faced with this problem, new developments and initiatives have emerged to help reduce the damage we cause to nature with conventional petroleum-derived plastics. One of these initiatives are bioplastics. These materials are increasingly being used to manufacture biodegradable products.
As mentioned above, due to the growing problem with plastic waste management, research has been carried out to develop alternative materials that are more environmentally friendly. These include materials for the manufacture of biodegradable products.
Biodegradable materials and products are part of the bioplastic’s family.
- Do you want to know more about bioplastics? We leave you this post regarding the 3 types of bioplastics you should know.
These materials that, through the action of biological agents and the environmental conditions in which they are found, are capable of decomposing without leaving residues or traces of microplastics.
- Here is all the information you need about biodegradable materials.
A product is compostable when at least 90% of its total mass biodegrades in a period of less than 6 months.
With this in mind, we can say that a compostable material will always be biodegradable, while a biodegradable material doesn’t always have to be compostable.
- If you want to delve deeper about the difference between «biodegradable» and «compostable», we recommend this article on the EN 13432 standard.
Why should we use biodegradable products?
Plastic is a safe, economical material that can be used to manufacture many types of parts, containers and items.
In fact, global plastic production doubled between 2000 and 2019 to a total of 460 million tons, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
However, the waste generated by these materials has also increased. In 2019, 353 tons of plastic waste were reached and 22 million were dumped into the environment. During the same year, 6 million tons of waste ended up in lakes, oceans and rivers.
According to the United Nations Environment Assembly, plastics account for «at least 85% of all marine debris».
With this in mind, the industry’s move towards biodegradable products is becoming increasingly imperative.
Biodegradable products in the industry
Bioplastics used to manufacture biodegradable products still account for less than 1% of the 367 million tons of plastic produced annually. However, the market for biodegradables continues to grow. This development comes hand in hand with a growing demand for biodegradable products.
According to European Bioplastics, production capacities for biodegradables will grow from 2.42 million tons in 2021 to approximately 7,59 million tons in 2026.
Moreover, biodegradable products are expected to grow by more than 64% due to the increased production of materials such as PLA or PHA.
In addition to the growing demand for biodegradable products and the increase in the production capacity of this type of material, there is another factor that is increasing the presence of biodegradable products in the market: government regulations.
In many countries of the European Union, different types of regulations have appeared that are having a great impact on the plastic packaging market, limiting its use to certain situations or contexts and, on some occasions, even prohibiting the marketing of some products that are made of conventional plastic.
This situation is leading to an increase in the production and demand for biodegradable products. In fact, the trend is for biodegradable products to completely replace traditional plastics in certain applications and markets, especially in the single-use plastics sector.
Advantages of using biodegradable products in your business
The sustainable initiatives that have been emerging in the industrial sector over the last decade are very much aimed at reducing the impact of our activity on the environment.
In fact, the World Meteorological Organization’s newsletter stresses the need to apply solutions that reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere and are more environmentally friendly.
Now we focus on the main advantages of using biodegradable products in your business.
Demonstrate your ability to adapt to new regulations, changes in consumer demand and new, more sustainable materials. We know it is not easy, but we are sure you will succeed.
Reduced use of non-renewable sources
Although the fact that a product is biodegradable does not mean that it is of a renewable origin, it is true that most biodegradable products come from renewable sources such as beetroot or sugar cane.
The great problem of conventional plastic, together with the use of renewable sources, is the generation of waste. On many occasions, we find containers that are very difficult to dispose because they are composed of different types of materials or due to their size, etc.
One of the advantages of biodegradable products is that they biodegrade through the action of microorganisms found in nature, so under the right conditions biodegradable products eventually disappear.
In addition, a study by the University of Alcalá and the Autonomous University of Madrid showed that compostable biodegradables do not leave microplastics, one of the main problems generated by conventional plastic waste.
Social responsibility and corporate image
Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the environment, so their demand is moving towards biodegradable products.
By using these types of products, you are demonstrating your commitment to nature, which often has a positive impact on your brand’s image with consumers.
Steps to incorporate biodegradable products in your company
We’ll give you a have if you want to start using biodegradable products and don’t know how.
Learn about biodegradable products
When a product is biodegradable, we must remember that its shelf life is usually much shorter than that of conventional plastic. It is essential that you know if your product could really be compostable.
For example, products that must be outdoors for very long periods of time would not be biodegradable products, because they would degrade over time. The same applies to products that have to withstand high temperatures or have a high oxygen barrier.
Find reliable suppliers
It is important that you know what you are buying. As we mentioned before, there is a lot of ignorance and misinformation in the sector and some people take advantage of it. Make sure they are truly sustainable products and that the materials are truly biodegradable.
A biodegradable product, even if it has the same functionality as a conventional plastic product, should not be treated in the same way. Many times, especially in manufacturing processes, the transformation temperatures, production times and other factors change. Try, test and don’t lose your cool. They are totally different materials, although they can be used in conventional machinery.
Inform your customers
Once you have the biodegradable product in your catalogue, it is important that you inform your customers. For example: if the product is compostable, you should inform them that they should not throw it in the yellow garbage bin, but in the brown garbage bin instead.
It is also important that you emphasize that it is a sustainable and eco-friendly product so that they appreciate that you have taken the step towards the use of more respectful materials that are adapted to the regulations and that, in addition, guide us towards the circular economy.