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BIOGEGRADABLE PLASTICS are not all equal or good for the environment

Darren Kincaid - Monday, January 04, 2010
BIOGEGRADABLE PLASTICS

Biodegradability is an issue we’ve been involved with for the past several years. We urge you to read the following paragraphs to better understand what it involves. Currently we run both types of biodegradable bags (Oxo or Hydro). There is a shelf life with these bags so we currently do not have a stocking program.  Please contact us to help implement a “Green” program for your company.

Types of Biodegradable Plastics - It is important to distinguish between the different types of biodegradable plastic, as their costs and uses are very different.  The two main types are oxo-biodegradable and hydro-biodegradable. In both cases degradation begins with a chemical process (oxidation and hydrolysis respectively), followed by a biological process. Both types emit CO2 as they degrade, but hydro-biodegradable can also emit methane. Both types are compostable, but only oxo-biodegradable can be economically recycled.  Hydro-biodegradable is much more expensive than oxo-biodegradable.

OXO-BIODEGRADABLE PLASTIC - This new technology produces plastic which degrades by a process of OXO-degradation. The technology is based on a very small amount of pro-degradant additive being introduced into the manufacturing process, thereby changing the behaviour of the plastic. Degradation begins when the programmed service life is over (as controlled by the additive formulation) and the product is no longer required.

There is an additional cost involved in products made with this technology, which can be made with the same machinery and workforce as conventional plastic products.

The plastic does not just fragment, but will be consumed by bacteria and fungi after the additive has reduced the molecular structure to a level which permits living micro-organisms access to the carbon and hydrogen. It is therefore “biodegradable.” This process continues until the material has biodegraded to nothing more than CO2, water, and humus, and it does not leave fragments of petro-polymers in the soil. Oxo-biodegradable plastic passes all the usual ecotoxicity tests, including seed germination, plant growth and organism survival (daphnia, earthworms) tests carried out in accordance with ON S 2200 and ON S 2300 national standards.

The length of time it takes for oxo-biodegradable products to degrade can be ‘programmed’ at the time of manufacture and can be as little as a few months or as much as a few years. They are protected from degradation by special antioxidants until ready for use, and storage-life will be extended if the products are kept in cool, dark conditions.

Unlike PVC, the polymers from which oxo-biodegradable plastics are made do not contain organo-chlorine. Nor do oxo-biodegradable polymers contain PCBs, nor do they emit methane or nitrous oxide even under anaerobic conditions.

HYDRO-BIODEGRADABLE PLASTICS - Hydro-biodegradation is initiated by hydrolysis.  Some plastics in this category have a high starch content and it is sometimes said that this justifies the claim that they are made from renewable resources. However, many of them contain up to 50% of synthetic plastic derived from oil, and others (e.g. some aliphatic polyesters) are entirely based on oil-derived intermediates. Genetically-modified crops may also have been used in the manufacture of hydro-biodegradable plastics.

Hydro-biodegradable plastics are not genuinely “renewable” because the process of making them from crops is itself a significant user of fossil-fuel energy and a producer therefore of greenhouse gases. Fossil fuels are burned in the autoclaves used to ferment and polymerise material synthesized from biochemically produced intermediates (e.g. polylactic acid from carbohydrates etc); and by the agricultural machinery and road vehicles employed; also by the manufacture and transport of fertilizers and pesticides. They are sometimes described as made from “non-food” crops, but are in fact usually made from food crops.

A disproportionate amount of land would be required to produce sufficient raw material to replace conventional plastic products, and a huge amount of water, which is in such short supply in so many parts of the world.

Residues from some native starches can be seriously toxic; bitter cassava for example (tapioca) has a high level of hydro-cyanic glucoside present, which has to be removed by careful washing. During growth the plant is toxic to wildlife. Cassava is exhaustive of potash .

Three recent articles in the international press have drawn attention to the danger of using “renewable” resources derived from plants as a substitute for petroleum products. They focus on the use of corn and palm oil to make “biofuels” for motor vehicles, but the same danger arises from the use of corn and other agricultural products to make hydro-biodegradable plastics.

The International Herald Tribune wrote on 31st January 2007 “Just a few years ago politicians and green groups in the Netherlands were thrilled by the country’s adoption of “sustainable energy” by coaxing electricity plants to use biofuel. Spurred by government subsidies, energy companies designed generators that ran exclusively on this fuel, which in theory would be cleaner than fossil fuels because it is derived from plants.

Plastics made from crops, are up to 400% more expensive, they are not strong enough for use in high-speed machinery, and they emit methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) in landfill. Also, it is wrong to use land, water and fertilizers to grow crops for bioplastics and biofuels, which drives up the cost of food for the poorest people
 
Business Week 5 Feb 2007 edition “The rise in the price of corn that's hurting US pig farmers isn't caused by any big dip in the overall supply. In the U.S., last year's harvest was 10.5 billion bushels, the third-largest crop ever. But instead of going into the mouths of pigs or cattle or people, an increasing slice is being transformed into fuel for cars. The roughly 5 billion gallons of ethanol made in 2006 by 112 U.S. plants consumed nearly one-fifth of the corn crop.” US chicken producers are also being hit. The industry's feed costs are already up $1.5 billion per year. Ultimately, these increases will be passed on to consumers, and there could be dramatic inflation in food costs.
Oxo-bio plastics degrade in the upper layers of a landfill, but they are completely inert deeper in the landfill in the absence of oxygen. They do not emit methane at any stage.

Paper bags use 300% more energy to produce, they are bulky and heavy and are not strong enough, especially when wet. They will also emit methane in landfill.

Atlantic Poly would like to help in your recycling efforts and conserving our environment

Darren Kincaid - Monday, December 28, 2009

Atlantic Poly would like to help in your recycling efforts and conserving our environment:

  • Help your company's bottom line
  • Help your environment
  • Reduce your waste disposal costs
  • Potential for value of materials recycled
  • Possible tax benefits for recycling material
If you are disposing of any of the below materials, we have the capabilities to remove this material from your company's waste stream and turn that would-be waste into usable American made products such as Recycled Poly Bags and roll-off liners. We offer a pick-up service anywhere in the country provided the material is “baled”. (We need a min. of 10,000 lbs or more for this “pick-up” service) Please call us if we can help in your recycling efforts.  Materials We recycle:
  • Stretch Film
  • Pallet Wrap
  • Poly Bags
  • Poly Films
  • LDPE and HDPE

ATLANTIC POLY’S COMMITMENT TO THE ENVIRONMENT

Darren Kincaid - Monday, December 28, 2009
As a nationwide supplier of packaging materials we’re faced with unprecedented changes.  Environmental issues have suddenly been thrust to the forefront. We’ve been pro-active on this situation since 1995 with the establishment of  Envirotech Div. (this is the Recycling Division of Atlantic Poly). 

Over the past 15 years we’ve helped remove millions of lbs of scrap from the waste stream.  We receive hundreds of calls inquiring about Recycling, Recycled Bags, Biodegradable Bags, and other environmental questions.  Our views and what we’re doing about these issues will be discussed on the following pages. We realize each of your companies’ can be faced with different environmental challenges.  What works for one company might not be viable for another. We’re here as a resource to help you with your environmental challenges.

RECYCLED POLY BAGS - Good or Bad?

Darren Kincaid - Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Quotes requests for recycled poly bags are on the rise. There are positives and negatives when ordering a recycled poly bag. The pluses being we’re able to blend reprocessed resin in with virgin resin to manufacture a “recycled bag”.  The minuses are many. We cannot make a bag under .0015 thickness because reprocessed resin is not as strong as virgin grade resin. (The strength of the bag can vary from batch to batch..) There’s also a slight “haziness” to the poly because of the blend. A recycled poly bag isn’t always less expensive than a virgin grade bag. (The recycled resin market is very volatile and pricing can increase/decrease in a very short period of time) 

SOURCE REDUCTION AND RECYCLING

Darren Kincaid - Saturday, December 19, 2009
What It Is
Source reduction is decreasing the amount of materials or energy used during the manufacturing or distribution of products and packages. Because it stops waste before it starts, source reduction is the top solid waste priority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

What Source Reduction Isn't

Source reduction is not the same as recycling. Recycling is collecting already used materials and making them into another product. Recycling begins at the end of a product's life, while source reduction first takes place when the product and its packaging are being designed.
The best way to think about source reduction and recycling is as complementary activities: combined, source reduction and recycling have a significant impact on preventing solid waste and saving resources.

Why It's Important
  • Source reduction conserves raw material and energy resources. Manufacturing thinner gauge films and bags requires less energy to manufacture and transport.  (LDPE and LLDPE resins have become more sophisticated and can be run at a thinner gauges with equivalent strength to thicker material. )
  • Source reduction reduces releases to air, land and water. For example, it takes less fuel to transport lighter weight materials.
  • Source reduction cuts back on what has to be thrown away. That helps keep solid waste disposal costs down, which is good for municipal budgets and consumers.

Domestic vs Imports

Darren Kincaid - Thursday, December 17, 2009

It has been assumed for a while now that imported production of plastic bags is always much cheaper than domestic production.  This is no longer true in many cases.

  • Anti-Dumping tariffs have raised import prices.
  • Reduction or elimination of Chinese government polyethylene resin subsidies, have raised import prices.
  • Cost of moving factories from tariff affected countries (China and Vietnam) to non tariff countries (Cambodia, Laos) have raised import prices.
On standard low density constructions like patch handle, drawstring, drawtape, die cut, and soft loop, domestic might now be the way to go.

A 3-4 week domestic lead time, is certainly easier to deal with than a 12-14 week import lead time.

Maybe it is time once again to think about supporting American production!!

TRUE LINERS

Darren Kincaid - Thursday, December 03, 2009

New product meets all EPA and Government Requirements

Binskin Liners… We’ve developed a new line of Roll Off liners called “TRUE LINERS” Guaranteed full gauge, Full spec liners that meet all EPA and Government requirements. BinSkins™ are heavy-duty polyethylene liners, providing maximum protection for your roll-off containers. BinSkins™ reduce potential leakage, lower wash-out costs and increase container longevity. BinSkins™ provide a cleaner, safer, easier way to dump debris, and other airborne contaminants. Easily installed by one person, BinSkins™ quickly roll open and extend over the top and si
des of the containers.

Plastic Poly Bags are Reusable

Darren Kincaid - Thursday, November 26, 2009

Plastic poly bags have many uses and as we all know they are usually used over and over again.  Whenever we purchase something at a store, more often than not we take our items home in a poly bag. We then reuse these bags to transport something else or  to temporarily store items.

We find these bags are used everywhere including in kid's local sports leagues.  Hats and jerseys are distributed to each team in some form of a plastic bag. As I coach I reuse these bags for other things and hardly ever throw them away.  It's amazing how many uses these are for poly bags but equally impressive is how many times we reuse the bags. 

They are convenient, durable and safe for the environment.

Uses for Polyethylene Bags are endless

Darren Kincaid - Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The uses and markets for polyethylene or poly bags are virtually endless.  Whenever you need to protect an item during storage or shipment, Atlantic Poly can supply a poly bag that is right for the job. Lighter density poly bags are a good choice for items that are not heavy and require only a basic shield from their nearby environmental surroundings. Heavy density poly bags keep your goods safe from harm in more abusive environments where dirt, dust, moisture, and motion could damage your goods.

Printed Poly Bags Are Good For Marketing

Darren Kincaid - Monday, July 20, 2009
Atlantic Poly’s printed poly bags are very affordable and effective in terms of marketing for its customers. These items can be made from any density film, which allows using them in various ways. There are two common types of materials used for these packages, namely: polyethylene LDPE and HDPE.

The most common of printed bags are the T-shirt bags. The practical handles allow the T-shirt bags to withstand considerable weight, while their side folds help them achieve substantial capacity. Plastic T-shirt bags are widely used in supermarkets and other commercial outlets. The low cost of these bags permit offering them free of charge to customers. Favorable prices make these bags an attractive target for advertising such as trademarks, logos, and contacts. In addition to advertising, they have a good branding value - according to studies; printed poly bags with logos increase the commitment to the brand. Contrary to popular belief, T-shirt bags are not single-use. According to statistics, they are used 2-4 times on average, depending on their size and strength. They can be made of HDPE or LDPE. You can choose the size and shape of the packages, and the color of the film. Atlantic Poly ensures that these bags can be made for you in the shortest possible time.