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What are biodegradable products

New materials have been created recently to fight plastic pollution, trying to reduce the time required for their decomposition, mainly in the natural environment.

Definition of biodegradable materials

Biodegradable materials are those that may be degraded under microbial activity and used by microbes as food within a reasonable period of time. The time required for decomposition depends entirely on the type of material, environment conditions, such as temperature and humidity, and place of decomposition, according to the Biodegradable Products Institute.

Biodegradable raw materials

Polylactide Acid – PLA

PLA is a polymer produced from renewable sources. Unlike other raw materials based on oil, maize stark, tapioca roots or sugar cane are among the raw materials used to produce PLA.

PLA has a low melting point; therefore it is proper for cold use, up to about 40ºC. If more heat resistance is required, such as for cutlery, coffee of soup lids, its crystallized form is used. The crystallized form is known as CPLA. The result is a product thermally stable at 70 ºC

Sugar cane

It is created out of sugar cane wastes. The material is used mainly for plates, glasses and boxes for food delivery.  It is highly resistant, can be used in the microwaves oven, in the over, as well as in the freezer. In the microwaves oven these products resist usually up 3 minutes at 800 watt. In the freezer, it can be also kept at temperatures of -25 °C.

FSC paper, wood and cardboard

FSC or Forest Stewardship Council is an organization surveying the forestry and production processes to ensure sustainable production of wood or wooden products, such as paper and cardboard. FSC certification verifies whether:

  1. The collected wood is replaced or left to regenerate naturally. 
  2. Parts of the forest are entirely protected, as to support biodiversity of animal and plant life. 
  3. FSC protects the rights of indigenous people, which includes area protection. 
  4. FSC forests have to use local workers, in line with the employment policies accepted at world level. 
  5. All the wood is cut from the forest for storage. 
  6. FSC has also been approved by WWF, Greenpeace and The Woodland Trust. 

The wood cutlery, paper glasses and paper packages, which are 100% biodegradable and compostable, must have such a certification.

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