Biodegradable Packaging Materials: Question & Answers
Products labeled 'biodegradable' are not offered for sale in the state of California.
For more information please see: Q&A on California laws on biodegradability
1. Will the biodegradable products perform as well as your non-degradable products?
Product performance is not impacted; our biodegradable products perform the same as our non-biodegradable products.
2. How long will it take to degrade?
Our Biodegradable air cushions contain an additive that accelerates biodegradation when in the presence of microorganisms. The rate and time for biodegradation varies depending on conditions.
3. What causes the product to biodegrade?
Our biodegradable products contain an additive that promotes the formation of a microscopic bio-film on the surface of the products, which attracts microorganisms. The microorganisms secrete acids and enzymes that break down the long polymer chains into smaller pieces, which can then be digested by the microorganisms. This additive is used in numerous plastic products throughout the world.
4. What is left when the product biodegrades?
After biodegradation, the resulting material has been transformed into simple molecules found in the environment, such as carbon dioxide, methane, water, inorganic compounds or biomass with no heavy metals or harmful chemicals.
5. Does it take air to make our biodegradable products degrade?
Our biodegradable products will biodegrade in aerobic (with air) and anaerobic (without air) conditions, which means it will degrade in soil or in landfills. The rate and time for biodegradation will vary from place to place, depending on the level of microbial activity.
6. Will it degrade in a modern landfill?
Our biodegradable products will degrade in landfills, but landfill conditions vary, so the time frames will also vary.
7. How do we know the product will biodegrade?
Numerous plastic samples that use the additive have been tested by independent laboratories, in accordance with standard test methods approved by ASTM and other standardization bodies, to determine the rate and extent of biodegradation of plastic materials. The test methods include:
- ASTM D5511 - Anaerobic Biodegradability (Simulates landfill).
- ASTM D5338 - Aerobic Biodegradation under Controlled Composting Conditions.
- ASTM 5209 - Aerobic Biodegradation in the Presence of Municipal Sewage Sludge.
The results of these tests concluded that plastic products manufactured with this additive are biodegradable and safe for the environment.
Outside laboratories have tested our products using Biochemical Methane Potential testing, which results demonstrate degradation in landfill conditions. We are continuing to perform additional testing.
8. What is the ASTM?
ASTM International which was started in 1898 was originally known as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). It is one of the largest voluntary standards development organizations in the world, they are currently represented in over 120 countries. The ASTM is a trusted source for technical standards for materials, products, systems, and services. ASTM International standards have an important role in the information infrastructure that guides design, manufacturing and trade in the global economy. For more information see www.astm.org
9. Is the material compostable?
Our biodegradable products will degrade in both home and commercial composters, but because it will generally take more than a year to degrade, we do not recommend our products for composting.
10. Can our biodegradable products be recycled?
Yes. Our biodegradable film is #4 LDPE (the same material used to make bread and frozen food bags, squeezable bottles, e.g. honey, mustard) and can be recycled curbside in some communities or deflated and recycled with plastic bags. You can learn about curbside recycling programs in your area by visiting Earth 911 and typing in your ZIP code. You can find out where to recycle plastic bags in your area by visiting PlasticBagRecycling.org.
Our biodegradable SUPER 8 loosefill is #6 Polystyrene (PS) and can be recycled with some curbside programs or it can be returned to over 1,500 locations listed in Plastic Loosefill Council's Peanut Hotline, or the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers (AFPR) drop-off and mail-in program.
11. Are our biodegradable products OXO or OXI based products?
No, our biodegradable products are not OXO or OXI based additive products. OXO or OXI based products break down in the presence of heat, light or mechanical stress. They also leave heavy metal residue as they degrade. OXO or OXI products are currently being eliminated in Japan, Australia, Germany and other locations.
12. What is EN 13427?
EN 13427 is the standard of the European Packaging Directive, for sustainable products under the European Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and the Essential Requirements Regulation. This directive for sustainable products includes how products will be used after they have fulfilled their primary purpose. A sustainable product compliant with EN 13427 standards must be either recyclable, reusable, incinerated with a low calorific output, biodegradable or does not give off any heavy metal residues or contain any harmful or dangerous substances.
Our air cushions and biodegradable SUPER 8® loosefill have been certified by independent laboratories as compliant with this directive.
13. Is there any special handling for this product?
No special handling is required to load, use or store the material.
14. From a packer's standpoint, are there any safety issues with handling?
No, the additive is made from FDA recognized materials and is not known to contain hazardous materials, as outlined by current OSHA regulations.
15. Will the additive transfer to other products?
No, the additive must be mixed with the raw materials during production of the finished packaging material and becomes a non-transferable part of the product.
16. Is there a shelf life on this material?
The additive to make our products biodegradable does not impact the shelf life of the product in normal warehouse conditions
17. Will humidity affect its performance?
Humidity will not impact the performance of our biodegradable products.