An agreement was signed today in Catania between the National Research Council’s Institute for Polymers, Composites and Biomaterials (IPCB) and the Consortium for the organic recycling of biodegradable and compostable plastic packaging. The aim is to determine the extent of the use of polyolefins, and polyethylene in particular, in bags marketed as compostable.
The consortium for the organic recycling of biodegradable and compostable plastic packaging, BIOREPACK, which as part of the CONAI system deals with promotion and development of the organic recycling of compostable bioplastic packaging, and the Institute for Polymers, Composites and Biomaterials (IPCB) of the National Research Council (CNR) signed an innovative agreement in Catania today, the aim of which is to verify if and to what extent polyolefins are used in BIO shopping bags certified as compostable.
Compostable bioplastic bags are a valid ally in improving the separate collection of organic waste and for boosting the quantity and quality of compost obtained in treatment plants. However, there are still many cases of illegal products being used and marketed, often from uncontrolled foreign supply chains, such as bags for take-away goods and bags supplied as primary packaging for bulk foodstuffs, which contain variable percentages of polyolefins (PO) such as polyethylene (PE).
According to the agreement, the CNR-IPCB will carry out research and analysis of the potential polyethylene content of samples of bags for take-away goods and for the packing of bulk foodstuffs found in large retail outlets, markets and shops, in order to check if they comply with the law.
“The Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry on illegal activities related to the waste cycle notes that around 25% of carrier bags released for consumption are not up to standard. Fighting illegal behaviour, however troublesome, is the only way to safeguard the effectiveness of compostable bioplastic packaging and to leverage its valuable contribution to agricultural soil, which can greatly benefit from the use of compost from organic waste. The scientific contribution of the CNR of Catania will be essential in supporting our activities to fight this phenomenon,” commented Marco Versari, president of BIOREPACK.
“BIO shopping bags are made of complex mixtures of several different polymeric components and additives of various kinds. The method that has been developed is applied in two phases and combines two analytical techniques, one qualitative and the other quantitative. This reveals the chemical nature of the material, providing a sort of polyethylene fingerprint, and the amount present can then be determined,” explained Paola Rizzarelli, a researcher at the CNR-IPCB.
“Using the methodology developed by the researcher Paola Rizzarelli (CNR-IPCB) and her associates, Emanuele Mirabella (CNR-IPCB) and Marco Rapisarda (CNR-IPCB), we are able to combat an environmental hazard and avoid economic damage for anaerobic digestion and composting plants, but more generally for the virtuous bioplastics supply chain. We are also providing a service to safeguard consumers and, by extension, society” explained Domenico Garozzo, CNR-IPCB director.
The investigations will start in January next year and the results will be announced later in 2023. “We hope that this partnership is only the first step in a long history of cooperation,” concluded Versari.
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