Biodegradable packaging based on raw materials from crops and their impact on waste management

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Davis, G.
Song, J.
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2006
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Abstract

Packaging waste forms a significant part of municipal solid waste and as such has caused increasing environmental concerns, resulting in strengthening of EU Regulations in order to reduce amounts of packaging waste. Among other materials, a huge range of oil-based polymers is currently used in packaging applications. They are largely non-biodegradable and particularly difficult to recycle or reuse due to mixed levels of contamination and complex composites. In recent years, the development of biodegradable packaging materials from renewable natural resources (e.g. crops) has received increasing attention, particularly in EU countries. Significant progress has been made to produce biodegradable materials with similar functionality to that of the oil-based synthetic polymers. It is anticipated that, as the materials are from renewable resources and biodegradable, they would contribute to sustainable development and if properly managed would reduce their environmental impact upon disposal. This paper discusses the potential impact of biodegradable packaging materials on waste management in terms of landfill, incineration, recycle/reuse and composting. A comparison is also drawn to the oil-based polymer packaging materials. It is the view of the authors that biodegradable packaging materials are most suitable for single use disposable packaging applications where the post-consumer use packaging can be locally composted as a means of recycling the materials. Establishment of appropriate collection, transportation and treatment technologies are considered crucial to the success widespread applications of biodegradable packaging materials. This paper discusses the potential impact of biodegradable packaging materials on waste management in terms of landfill, incineration, recycle/reuse and composting. A comparison is also drawn to the oil-based polymer packaging materials. It is the view of the authors that biodegradable packaging materials are most suitable for single use disposable packaging applications where the post-consumer use packaging can be locally composted as a means of recycling the materials. Establishment of appropriate collection, transportation and treatment technologies are considered crucial to the success widespread applications of biodegradable packaging materials.

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Industrial Crops and Products

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23

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2

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Crop and Pasture Production

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