Diversity is key: alternative materials

15/07/2021 | 4 min read
Stephan Laske

With Greiner Packaging’s goal to include as much recycled material as possible in its products by 2025, material diversity is critical. Here we look at two sessions from the virtual Innovation Days, which focused on bio-circular materials and fair plastics.

Climate change: Act now – with bio-circular materials

In the afternoon of the first Innovation Day, Stephan Laske, R&D Director at Greiner Packaging, and Trevor Davis, Head of Marketing Consumer Products at Borealis, introduced the topic of bio-circular materials and how the challenge of climate change can be addressed by using sustainable and renewable carbon sources.

“Bio-circular polymers are based on renewable resources – materials that are generated just as quickly as it takes for them to deplete,” said Stephan Laske. “There are some bio-plastics which are compostable, but based on petrochemical materials, such a PBAT or PBS, but the well-known bio-plastics derived from renewable materials such as PLA and PHA are also compostable. When we talk about compostable, we mean materials which conform to standardized composting tests.”

“When we talk about bio-circular, there are three generations of sources available. The first is primary fruit, such as PLA from maize or corn. We do not want to use this source, because we do not want to compete with food production. So, we start with second generation, which is waste material from the first generation, such as by-products from farming. The third generation is organic food waste. We generate an incredible amount of food waste every day, so this is one of the largest waste streams available. It makes total sense to tap into these waste streams and recycle them, to produce upcycled polymers.”

“So, bio-circular material is obtained from the biomass of living organisms that does not compete with the food supply chain. The resulting feedstock is chemically identical to standard plastics – such as bio-circular PP, or bio-circular, PE –but non-fossil-based.”

Achieving Mass Balance

Borealis also thinks that it is important not to compete with food because that's also a challenge as we look to feed the world,” said Trevor Davis. “So, we're looking to address the CO2 and global warming challenge using second generation feedstock.”

“Over their lifetime, plants store carbon, so they have a negative carbon value, and as they move from feedstock through production and logistics, some of that carbon is released. By the time the end product is made, we see a strong gain in CO2 to a negative 120% level, which we have had validated by some very detailed Life Cycle Analysis.”

“From this we move to mass balance, which is a methodology which makes it possible to track the amount and sustainability characteristics of circular and/or bio-based content in the value chain and put it into our existing infrastructure and track it through each step of the process. Borealis tracks not only our supplier, and our own process, but we also track converters, such as partners like Greiner Packaging, and then ultimately, we track the final applications. This process is validated by ISCC Plus (International Sustainability & Carbon Certification) which provides transparency throughout the entire value chain and then ultimately to consumers so that they can know that the material they're buying is based on these renewables.”

Borealis has undertaken some unique primary research in Europe to look at what consumers think about renewables. It showed that consumers very much want to do better for the planet. There are a number of different messages that we can give to consumers, and the one that resonated the most was just the simplest. An on-product claim, saying ‘better for the planet’ was ranked by 2,500 consumers in Europe. The survey also indicated that consumers would be willing to pay more for those products that had renewable, or a better from the planet, packaging.

Stephan Laske then announced an exciting breakthrough: Greiner Packaging had successfully produced the first polypropylene (PP) in-mold label (IML) cup prototypes made of Bornewables™ – a portfolio of premium polyolefins designed for circularity by Borealis, which use the ISCC Plus certification system ensuring the traceability of the renewable, sustainably produced feedstock from its point of origin through the entire chain of custody.

Concepts like our new IML food cups made of Bornewables™, only work when all partners along the entire value chain get involved and share the same sustainability targets – from feedstock suppliers through to brand owners.

Stephan Laske, R&D Director at Greiner Packaging

Watch the full live session here!

Please note: In order to watch the live session you need to login (and register) first; registration is still possible, even though the event is over.

Plastic Bank: empowering the world to stop ocean plastic

Closing the first Innovation Day, David Katz, the founder and CEO of Plastic Bank, joined the event from Vancouver to explain the work of Plastic Bank and how Social Plastic® transfers its value to the people that engage with it to help build a regenerative society.

Plastic Bank sets up ethical recycling eco-systems in countries that lack sufficient disposal infrastructure and have high rates of pollution and poverty. The company is helping the world stop ocean plastic while improving the lives of collector communities.

Collectors in Plastic Bank’s ecosystems pick up plastic waste and bring it to collection points, where it is sorted and subsequently processed into granulate. The collected material is reborn as Social Plastic®. This material is then sold to manufacturing companies, which employ recyclate for their products or packaging. Greiner Packaging has supported Plastic Bank® with the start-up of five collection centers in Manila.

“I believe that the ocean’s greatest threat may be humanity’s richest opportunity,” said David. “It’s not the plastic that is the problem – it’s us. We have to value it all. If every piece of packaging had a value, we wouldn’t see it flowing into the ocean.”

“Plastic Bank is the world’s largest chain of stores for the poor. Over 700 locations where the people living in conditions where they don’t have very much hope for tomorrow can buy everything they need, using the garbage under their feet. From school tuition or medical insurance to WiFi or cell phone minutes, cooking fuel, or clean water – everything the world’s poor truly need but couldn’t afford, now available using garbage as money.”

“Our existence in communities reveals the inherent value in plastic waste. We have a few hundred schools in our eco-system, and we teach the children to go home and teach their parents about environmental stewardship, recycling, and economic opportunity. Then instead of throwing their garbage away they start collecting it and return it to the school as tuition payment, to make it easier for more children to go to school. The child learns that by recycling, poverty in the family has an opportunity to end.”

When we collect the material it goes to a local processor. The processor then exports it as raw materials, bought by companies such as Greiner Packaging and goes back into packaging, therefore closing the loop.

David Katz, Gründer und CEO of Plastic Bank

When you buy a product in packaging made from Social Plastic®, you’re helping end poverty and helping create a demand for communities to extract the raw material from the environment. Buy something made from Social Plastic® and you change the planet. You can be part of the solution not the pollution.”


Watch the full live session here!

Please note: In order to watch the live session you need to login (and register) first; registration is still possible, even though the event is over.

Greiner Packaging and Plastic Bank

In the press conference preceding the event, Greiner Packaging CEO Manfred Stanek announced that its cooperation with Plastic Bank was to continue.

“We have decided to expand our partnership with Plastic Bank. To be precise, we will finance another 165,000 kg of plastic waste collected. By that we can contribute further to supporting local gatherers financially, while at the same time keeping beaches clean and securing new material streams.”

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