An international waste and recycling management group is calling for clear labeling of biodegradable plastics to help in the processing of organic wastes.
The International Solid Waste Association, which has membership around the world and is based in Vienna, is out with a new report studying the issue of conventional and biodegradable plastics and their impacts on the organic waste stream.
“Biodegradable Plastics — An Overview of the Compostability of Biodegradable Plastics and its Implications for the Collection and Treatment of Organic Wastes” checks in at 32 pages and is not what you would consider light reading.
You need a registration to access the report. For those who don't have one — or don't have the time to dive into a 32-page report — here's an overview.
“The use of compostable plastic and paper bags for organic waste collections and incorporating them in the waste treatment process is a proven procedure in many countries with a developed sector for organic recycling. However, this approach is sensitive to the misuse of conventional plastic bags for bio-waste collection,” the report states.
This means that traditional plastic bags should not be used for organic waste headed for composting because they won't break down.
“In addition, misunderstanding of the compostability of plastic products, mostly packaging, often leads to the disposal of such products in organic waste bins. In order to avoid contamination of organic waste collected for composting, major awareness and education initiatives are necessary to inform policy makers and the public about what kinds of biodegradable plastics can and cannot be composted.
“Applying a standard code and/or pattern for organic waste collection bags — either at regional or national levels — may help the public and waste collectors be better able to recognize compostable plastic from non-biodegradable ones,” the report continues.
ISWA calls itself a “global, independent and non-profit making association, working in the public interest to promote and develop sustainable and professional waste management worldwide.”