Enhanced UK standards on biodegradable plastics welcomed by industry

Equipment specialist Ulma Packaging UK has welcomed the introduction of a new British standard on biodegradable plastic, paving the way further developing sustainable packaging.

Published by the British Standards Institution as PAS 9017, the new standard requires plastics claiming to be biodegradable to pass a test proving they break down into a harmless wax containing no nanoplastics or microplastics.

The standard, benchmarked to a formula created by British company Polymateria to transform certain plastic items into sludge at a point in their lifetime, is applicable to products such as food films and cartons.

This new standard is therefore something that will be looked upon with interest by the packaging machinery industry, says Ed Williams, sales director at ULMA Packaging UK.

He said: “While great strides are being taken educating the consumer on what constitutes sustainable and recyclable packaging, the fact remains that classifications around sustainable packaging could be clearer. As such, this latest move to standardise degradable materials is something to be welcomed.”

Williams added: “ULMA has long been committed to supporting and investing in sustainability and recyclability as part of our #ULMAweCare project, and have been actively working with materials suppliers to this end. We are keen to assist within the continually developing field of biodegradable plastics, especially at a time when improving the recycling and composting of these materials are a major priority for the packaging industry.”

Ed added that the new system could potentially provide a further alternative option for manufacturers and retailers looking for additional sustainable packaging materials, alongside existing recyclable polyethylene and home compostable film solutions.

“Giving manufacturers and retailers, and by extension consumers, additional choices when it comes to sustainable packaging must be seen as a positive step,” he said. “Consequently, we will be interested to see how films meeting this standard perform in trials. If these materials can offer the stability, functionality, processibility and shelf-life demanded by both food manufacturing companies and customers, this could be a very exciting development for the industry.”

He concluded: “Through our #ULMAweCare project, we are looking to reduce plastic materials used in packaging, and promote the inclusion of recyclable and compostable solutions. Achieving more efficient processes and effective packaging with a smaller environmental impact is a major challenge for multiple sectors. With this in mind, sustainable policy introductions such as this new standard have a crucial part to play in unlocking further innovations that can create more sustainable supply chains that reduce overall impact on the environment.”

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