We use the following words to describe the different kinds of plastic and non-plastic materials...
Conventional plastic is what we see everywhere – PET, PS, PVC, PP, PE, etc. The vast majority is derived from unsustainable fossil fuel sources, although conventional plastic
can now also be manufactured from plants to produce a product with the same chemical structure, and critically, the same indestructible qualities. Plant-derived conventional
plastic is sometimes called “bio-plastic” or “drop in bio-plastic” — a perfect example of the confusing language used to describe plastic. Similarly ‘oxo-biodegradable’ plastics may sounds good but are now known to simply degrade down to tiny plastic fragments. For absolute clarity, we call all three of these kind of plastics Conventional Plastic as they all take hundreds of years to break down into micro-plastics and nano-plastics that are damaging our marine life and polluting our planet at an unprecedented rate.
There are also bio-plastics – which are sourced from plants and which compost at the end of their lives. We call these bio-materials to differentiate them from bioplastics (which have the same qualities as conventional plastic). We believe bio-materials are a good step in the right direction. Biomaterials are designed with many of qualities of conventional plastic. At the same time they can be sustainably sourced at the beginning of their lives and composted at the end of the lives.
A Plastic Planet group all the materials in the following two categories Plastic Free
BIO-MATERIALSWOOD PULP, PLANT CELLULOSE, FOOD WASTE, GRASS, ALGAE AND MUSHROOMS
Bio-materials are the future. Exciting new and old materials include wood pulp, plant cellulose, food waste, grass, algae, and mushrooms. These materials can be made into trays, punnets and clear, flexible films that look and behave like conventional plastic, but with two key differences: At the start of their lives, these materials can be sustainably sourced ideally in full or in part. At the end of their lives, they can be composted into bio-mass to regenerate depleted farming soils. We support all compostables that comply with the necessary compliance ie EN 13432 or OK Home Compostable.
OTHER MATERIALSMETAL, PAPER, CARTON BOARD, GLASS, ALUMINIUM, STEEL, TIN, GLASS.
Metal, paper, carton board and glass are also plastic free. Aluminium, tin and glass can be recycled in an infinite loop. Paper, sustainably sourced through FSC™️ or PEFC™️ certification, can also be recycled and is one of the most all around versatile packaging materials. Steel and tin plate cans are of course free of plastic, but often have plastic linings. Similarly work is still needed to remove hidden plastic in products like Tetrapak.
Q. IS BIODEGRADABLE THE SAME AS COMPOSTABLE?
A Plastic Planet avoids using the word biodegradable because everything eventually biodegrades, but not necessarily into harmless matter and very often over very long time periods. Plastic is a good example. It biodegrades in our oceans into tiny, microscopic pieces creating a toxic plastic soup and a plastic bottle takes hundreds of years to break down. Biodegradable sounds misleadingly positive — A Platic Planet would prefer to talk about compostable.
Imagine packaging that is fully compostable at the end of its life, so it gives something useful back to Nature rather than something harmful.
The skin around an orange protects the fruit until we eat it, and then fully composts. This should be our goal – wrap perishable food in perishable packaging. The opposite of plastic. We need to start a serious conversation about our waste management systems including industrial composting as obviously composting vast quantities of packaging at home is not practical.