Oxo-degradable Plastic Packaging – What You Need To Know
April 1, 2022
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Consumer awareness of the negative effects of plastics has reached an all-time high. There is clear evidence on just how much single use plastics are polluting the environment.
Over the last decade, various alternatives to conventional plastics have been created. The shift towards more sustainable packaging has accelerated, and companies are scrambling to implement green initiatives.
This shift, however, has created a market for greenwashing practices. Various packaging materials claim to be good for the environment when, in fact, they are harmful to it. A prime example is oxo-degradable/oxo-biodegradable plastics.
In This Article:
What are Oxo-degradable Plastics?
Oxo-degradable/oxo-biodegradable plastics are often confused with regular biodegradable plastics. Oxo plastics are also confused with bioplastics or mentioned as a subclass of bioplastics. Both of these statements are inaccurate. Oxo degradable plastics are conventional plastics that have chemical additives. The additives are meant to mimic the biodegradation process.
Oxo-degradable plastics break into small pieces known as microplastics. They do not reach the molecular level that renders them harmless to the environment.
Oxo-degradable plastics are not a solution to help decrease land or sea pollution. Instead of going through biodegradation, they go through a fragmentation process. This produces small particles that contribute to the microplastic problem.
Australian Bioplastics Association (ABA)
The Australasian Bioplastics Association is the peak industry body for manufacturers, converters and distributors of bioplastic products and materials throughout Australia and New Zealand. They have to deal with misconceptions around oxo-degradable plastics and bioplastics.
The association supports and promotes:
The growth and use of renewable raw materials in products and applications
Innovation leading to the lower environmental impact of durable and non-durable plastic products
Independent third party certification and product labelling based on the AS4736 standard, if biodegradability and compostability are claimed
Independent third-party certifications product labelling for biobased polymer products
The identification and evaluation of other eco-efficient and end-of-life options
The association works with the government, organic recyclers, composters, industry groups, non-government organisations, brand owners and converters to further the understanding and appropriate use of bioplastics. The ABA is dedicated to promoting plastics that are biodegradable, compostable and based on renewable resources.
The Association acts as a communication focal point for media, government, environmental organisations and the public, on issues relating to bioplastics.
ABA on Oxo-biodegradable Plastics
The following items are taken from their fact sheet regarding oxo-degradable/oxo-biodegradable plastics:
Finished products with claims that the product contains or is oxo-degradable, oxo-biodegradable, photo-degradable, photo fragmentable, enzyme-mediated or landfill biodegradable are generally synonyms of the same type of product.
They are conventional non-biodegradable plastics (usually polyethylene or polypropylene), that have additives incorporated at low rates (2-3%) to cause the product to fragment or disintegrate under some conditions.
The disintegration is accelerated fragmentation into microplastic which may be lost to the surrounding environment.
None of these conventional non-biodegradable products meets the requirements of internationally recognised and consistent Performance Standards covering compostability and biodegradability, including AS 4736-2006.
Sustainable Packaging Options by OF Packaging
We now offer recyclable packaging alternatives for most of our products. Reduce your company’s carbon footprint by joining the green packaging movement. Our recyclable packaging solutions provide our customers with quality materials and services. Start reducing the negative environmental impact associated with traditional packaging options today.
We offer compostable options that can be certified to ABA labelling standards. This means that packaging materials we utilise will decompose within six months. This will effectively help reduce plastic waste and support a circular economy.
Our recycled content packaging products can help businesses across Australia migrate to sustainability. We can make recycled films, bags, pouches, and cartons while retaining brand integrity. Our recycled content packaging materials are print-ready and highly customisable. This option is perfect for companies looking for eco-friendly premium product packs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Biodegradable, Compostable, and Oxo-degradable - What’s the difference?
Almost all types of material break down over time. People must be careful when something is classed as biodegradable as this does not specify a time it takes to break down, nor the quality of the product once it has degraded.
Certified compostable materials are a subset of biodegradable plastics that have a set time period for decomposition. They are often bio-based and they can be made up of organic matter like starch and sugarcane. They often degrade faster and leave behind residue similar to fertilizer. This can improve soil health and plant growth depending on the type of compostable material and quantity disposed of in a compost mix.
As mentioned above, oxo-degradables are made from conventional plastic materials. They contain chemical additives like metal salts that help speed up fragmentation. They do not completely degrade into the earth. Instead, they leave behind microplastics that continue to pollute landfills and oceans.
Does OF Pack offer oxo-degradable plastics as packaging options?
OF Packaging has never agreed with the concept of oxo-degradable packaging. For clients looking for eco-friendly degradable options, we recommend compostable packaging. These materials have scientific data backing them up and certifications can be obtained.
Looking for a packaging solutions provider that will help you move towards better packaging solutions?? OF Packaging is the one to call! We offer sustainable options that are good for both your products and the environment.