Discovering fake bio bags together
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
Catania, 20 December 2022 - 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.
About the CNR-IPCB
The National Research Council’s Institute for polymers, composites and biomaterials (IPCB) - part of the Department of Chemical Science and Materials Technology (DSCTM) - is a centre of excellence for research and innovation in the sector of polymeric materials, composites and biomaterials sector, which aims to make the proposed innovations applicable, and subsequently industrialisable, in companies, hospitals and local areas. More specifically in the biopolymer sector, the CNR-IPCB has developed a method for determining the potential content of polyolefins, and polyethylene (PE) in particular, in bags commonly used for shopping and the packaging of bulk foodstuffs.
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BIOREPACK, the National Consortium for the Organic Recycling of Biodegradable and Compostable Plastic Packaging, is a non-profit consortium under private law, with articles of association approved by a decree from the Ministry for Ecological Transition in agreement with the Ministry for Economic Development, with the aim of ensuring development of the differentiated collection and organic recycling of bioplastics together with the organic fraction of waste (article 182 c of the Consolidated Environment Law - Legislative Decree no. 152/2006). It is made up of more than 200 companies active in the production of raw materials, processing and industrial use of UNI EN 13432-certified compostable bioplastic packaging, as well as its organic recycling.
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