Q1. What is biodegradable plastic?
Biodegradable plastics are plastics that can be decomposed by the action of living organisms, usually microbes, into water, carbon dioxide, and biomass. Biodegradable plastics are commonly produced with renewable raw materials, micro-organisms, petrochemicals, or combinations of all three.
Q2. What’s the difference between bio-based and biodegradable?
Biodegradable plastic is not necessary to be bio-based. It can come from either natural materials or petroleum. Some biodegradable and compostable plastics are called bioplastic and they are generally made from plants (such as corn starch or sugarcane) rather than fossil fuels. In commercialized market, both have their standards, each bio-plastic c has either one or both.
Q3. What’s the difference between biodegradable and compostable?
Biodegradable plastic is designed to break up when exposed to the presence of microorganisms, and follows rigorously controlled conditions of temperature and humidity in industrial environments. One of the most recognized standards regarding biodegradability is the EN 13432, for something to be considered biodegradable it needs to:
Q4. I want to make my product “green”, which way should I choose?
Using bio-plastic on your product is one of the option but not the only way. We should understand does that make sense to use green solution on your product. A product needs to be used for long time, keeping its life as long as possible might be the best way to reduce the impact to environment.
Q5. Everyone is talking about PLA, is it the only bio-plastic?
Not exactly, PLA is famous and popular but it is not the only option of bio-plastic. There are many other bio-polymers with industrial scale, like PBAT, PBS, TPS, etc..
Q6. Why is PLA so popular?
All PLA are made from renewable resources, like corn starch or sugar which make a clear and positive image to the users about bio-plastics. It is also fully biodegradable without any modification. The mechanical properties of PLA are similar to certain petrochemical plastics, the supplying chains can replace current polymer by PLA without much investment. PLA can be modified by compounding technology to satisfy many different applications. PLA may not be the best answer to the application but it is always the first option.
Q7. What’s difference between PLA and PLA compound?
The natural color of PLA is transparent without crystallinity which can make products by injection or thermoforming. However, the heat resistance of products will not over 60℃ and they are brittle. Compounding offers many good solutions to fix these problems. Through compounding technology, we can raise the heat resistance over 100℃ or improve its toughness.
Q8. Can I distinguish bio-plastic, biodegradable or compostable?
It’s almost impossible for normal users distinguishing the bio-plastic, biodegradable or compostable. You can either check its license or testing the material by certain lab service.
Q9. What certificate do I need to ask from bio-plastic supplier?
Depending on your policy of marketing, if you declare the product can be composed after life cycle, a certificate of compose is what you need. There are two types of composing certificates, industrial and home. For those products that emphasize bio-based, a certificate of bio-based is necessary. Both compose and bio-based certificates are not able to prove food safety which you may need another report of test if your product will contact food.
Q10. Do I need a certificate of compose?
Certificate of compose is mainly for disposable application, like cutlery, straw, drink lid. If your customer or market requests such issue, you will have to replace current plastic by compostable material and tested by a 3rd party laboratory to get your own certificate
Q11. Which certificate of compose should I get for my product?
Depending on your market, you don’t want to spend lots money and time on a certificate that your customers have never known. There are several popular certificates of compose and more coming.
- BPI mainly in America, based on ASTM D6400
- OK compose mainly in Europe, based on EN13432
- DIN Certco mainly in Europe, based on EN13432 / ISO 17088 / ASTM D6400
*Information is only for reference, last detail should follow the official website of each organization.
Q12. How do I get the certificate of compose?
You need to get a report from a laboratory which tests your product following a composing standard. The test report must be accepted by the organization which issue the certificate, better conform this before starting the test.
Once you get the report and it passes all the tests, contact the organization and provide all the information they need, you should able to get a certificate of “this” product, each certificate is bonded with the product you have tested.
Q13. Can I declare my product 100% biodegradable or compostable without any certificate?
Can you declare that your product is food or medical safety without any certificate? We don’t think so.
Q14. Why do we need certificates on these “green materials”?
It’s barely possible for a consumer to identify biodegradable or bio-based of a product. A certificate is a necessary proof.
Q15. How long will a biodegradable product become fully degradation in a nature environment?
First, we have to understand that biodegradable is a chemical process which happens under certain conditions, moisture, temperature and specific microorganisms. If the compositions of a product are biodegradable, it will be degraded eventually. But it’s hard to say how long will it take
Q16. I am using a certified material to make my product. Can I use its certificate on my product?
No, there is a conversion between the material and product. The end product needs to be certified again even without adding any additive.
Q17. Can I use one certificate on different products?
The certificate is bonded to each product name/number, not a company. If all your products are made with the same material and molding process, it’s possible to apply one certificate for whole products. If the materials of products are different or have additives involved during process, you will have to get the certificates separately.
Q18. Is a biodegradable material also 100% bio-based and vice versa?
No, 100% biodegradable/compostable doesn’t mean bio-based. Certain petrochemical polymers can be compostable without bio-based like PBAT. Bio-PE is bio-based but it is not biodegradable.
Q19. Can you mix non-biodegradable with biodegradable polymer, like PP/PLA?
Theoretically, compounding technology is used on blending polymers, fillers and additives. However, we do not recommend doing this way. Such compounds will be detached from post-process easily. (recycle or compost) Once it gets into nature environment, part of it will degrade and the rest part will become small pieces and cause micro pollution.
Q20. Does Polyalloy make oxo- biodegradable compounds?
Some makers declare their additives can make traditional plastics biodegradable. The most popular product is OXO-biodegradation. There are many controversies on oxo-biodegradable additive. No doubt it’s like a perfect solution for biodegradable market but its biodegradable is questioned. Polyalloy decides not make any product of oxo- biodegradation.
* By the EU directive 2019/904 (Article 5) of the European Parliament and of the Council, the introduction of single use plastics made from oxo-degradable plastics was prohibited.