More support for PS packaging

Peter Heymann
Gerro Plast GmbH Labels

Published: January 18, 2013 4:36 pm ET
Updated: January 18, 2013 4:46 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Packaging

Regarding the Nov. 19 "The Plastics Blog" item by Don Loepp, "Plastics Hall of Famer stands up for polystyrene,"] Professor Richard S. Stein is absolutely right to mention that polystyrene disposables or cups are made from polystyrene and not styrene. Polystyrene is cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for direct food contact and has been found to be at least as good or better as paper board in several life-cycle assessment studies. The PS foam products in question are lighter-weight than anything else.

Also recently, there have been done some migration studies where no styrene could be found to migrate from PS products. The detection limit level was 0.1 ppb, equivalent to less than 1 person in the world population.

Recycling of those products would be, of course, the best alternative for reusing the material, as demonstrated in Amherst, Mass., the city Professor Stein was writing about. This could have been presented as an example of what one can do and how one can do it, even generating new employment and opportunities for small businesses instead of banning plastic. Despite recycling efforts, some part of the PS will still end up in landfills and does not degrade the same as other products such as paper and polylactic acid. PS can be made, however, biodegradable by using some additives, such as those from ECM Biofilms Inc. in Painesville, Ohio. Relative to the total amount of material, those additives are not very expensive and they do not prevent recycling and re-use. They, however, do not degrade in the requested 90 days

by some ASTM requirements tailored to the needs of industrial composting plants. It takes much longer but so what? At least the material completely degrades wherever there is microbial activity, such as in landfill.

The efforts of pressure groups and politicians jumping on the bandwagon to ban such PS products cannot be supported by facts. The conclusion drawn from this situation should be that every city banning PS should place a large billboard next to the city's name sign: "Beware of the 'Green Holy Inquisition.' "

There are certainly other issues relating to the use of PS in packaging and this does not only apply to PS packaging. My headline here would be "Shame and scandal in the industry."

Disposable PS foam cups, as well as some yogurt cups and similar products, are decorated with in-mold-applied paper labels using heat-activated adhesive. Once those labels are combined to the PS drinking cup or yogurt pot, you cannot separate the paper from the PS anymore. Everybody in the industry would know what paper fibers in your plastic melt would do negatively.

Despite this packaging being unrecyclable, it's still allowed to use the No. 6 code for PS, which many consumers believe means it would be recyclable. This is absolutely wrong. Therefore, one should use a PS label on a PS cup. The label could be applied without adhesive or at least with something that doesn't hinder re-use. As other people have shown, a fully PS-containing packaging material can easily be recycled and made into useful products.

People using paper labels will probably tell you that a PS label would be more expensive, which may be right. But the differences are not really significant and only fractions of a penny. If such unrecyclable cups or packaging would be marked properly with the right number for unrecyclable materials, the waste levies for such products would probably outnumber the small add-on cost for a label that makes the cup material reusable.

I guess to go after this issue using facts would be a much better playing field for the "Green Holy Inquisition" than banning something without having any proper facts.

Peter Heymann

General Manager

Gerro Plast GmbH Labels


Comments

More support for PS packaging

Peter Heymann
Gerro Plast GmbH Labels

Published: January 18, 2013 4:36 pm ET
Updated: January 18, 2013 4:46 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

P&G adding label to help guide consumers in recycling

March 2, 2015 3:29 pm ET

Procter & Gamble Co. will help prompt consumers to recycle rigid packaging by joining the Sustainable Packaging Coalition's How2Recycle Label program.    More

Image

Michigan thermoformer moving into larger location

February 25, 2015 4:04 pm ET

Thermoformer Display Pack Inc. has purchased a large manufacturing building in Cedar Springs, Mich.    More

Image

Tekni-Plex buying Galazzi pharmaceutical film and tape units

February 25, 2015 3:13 pm ET

Italy's Tekni-Plex Europe NV, a subsidiary of U.S.-based Tekni-Plex Inc., has announced that its plan to acquire Gallazzi SpA's Italian-based...    More

Image

Referendum on bag ban going to California voters

February 24, 2015 6:34 pm ET

California's voters, not legislators, will be the ones to ultimately decide on the state's plastic bag ban.    More

Image

US film recycling leaps 11 percent

February 24, 2015 9:00 am ET

UPDATED — Post-consumer plastic film packaging recycling jumped 11 percent year-over-year, according to new findings from the American Chemistry...    More

Market Reports

Flexible Packaging Trends in North America

North America represents about 30 percent of the global consumption of flexible packaging. Annual growth in this region is forecast at 4 percent during the next 5 years.

For more insight on growth opportunities, drivers of growth and the outlook for 2015, download this report.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events