By Paolo La Scola, Public Affairs Manager at TotalEnergies Corbion
Plastic packaging waste has become one of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time. In the recently published European Commission’s Early Warning Report, 18 Member States are at risk of missing the 55% target on municipal waste reuse and recycling preparation. Regarding packaging waste, EU regulators are currently reviewing the EU legislation and are on track to give the block a new Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR). However, 10 Member States are at risk of missing the target of 65% recycling of packaging waste by 2025.
The overall objectives of the Regulations are:
At TotalEnergies Corbion we believe that compostable plastics contribute to the objectives of the PPWR. Compostable plastics, like Luminy® PLA, are a type of biodegradable material designed to break down into natural elements when subjected to composting conditions. Compostable packaging has a clear advantage when plastic items are contaminated with food waste, as is often the case with food packaging and food service ware.
When plastics are contaminated with food, mechanical recycling of waste (food or packaging) is not viable. Conversely, when using compostable plastics, we can organically recycle both packaging and food waste. Many existing examples of plastic packaging cannot be redesigned to make them reusable. In contrast, the same design can be made with compostable plastics that can be efficiently composted.
To fully unlock the potential of compostable plastics, the PPWR needs to include specific enabling conditions:
Compostable plastics have significant potential to tackle packaging waste and can be organically recycled with food waste. To fully utilize PLA's sustainability benefits in the packaging industry, a clear legislative framework within the PPWR is essential. Recognizing PLA as a sustainable packaging material alternative is crucial, given its 75% lower carbon footprint compared to fossil-based materials. Standardization and extended producer responsibility are necessary to ensure the sustainable advantages of bioplastics benefit both present and future generations.
For more information on the advantages of compostable plastics, please see TotalEnergies Corbion’s withepaper on the topic.