As a bioplastic, PLA is versatile both in application potential and the possibilities for its disposal at the end of life. PLA producer Total Corbion PLA has now released a whitepaper in which the company outlines its position on the preferred end-of-life options for these bioplastics and clarifies where PLA products and applications can significantly contribute towards the circular economy.
“While the benefits of bioplastics have been known for a while, there are still questions throughout the supply chain on how best to dispose of them after use,” said François de Bie, Senior Marketing & Supply Chain Director at Total Corbion PLA.
“This position paper is intended for all interested parties throughout the value chain in order inform not only on the best disposal routes for PLA bioplastics, but also to guide how best to design new products for optimal end-of-life solutions.”
As part of the aim to transition to a resource-efficient circular economy in Europe, the EU Commission points to the key role of efficient waste collection and management.
The EU Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) defines a five-step waste hierarchy ranking the treatments of waste based on their ability to conserve resources.
According to Total Corbion PLA compostability is an end-of-life option that should only be used for specific applications, although it can help to efficiently manage the biggest fraction of the municipal waste stream: bio-waste.
Industrially compostable plastics can help to separately collect organic waste, divert larger volumes of bio- waste to organic recycling and reduce conventional plastic contamination in the bio-bin, which can ultimately reduce the occurrence of microplastics in compost.
Compostable plastics make good sense in cases a co-benefit, such as increasing the amount of food waste collected to be composted, or reducing the amount of fossil plastics ending up in the food- and garden waste, is derived from their use.
In the whitepaper, Total Corbion PLA makes the case for the mechanical and chemical recycling of PLA at the end of life. Systems should be put in place for recycling to become a viable, economically feasible and commonly used end-of-life solution for PLA-based products.
Prime examples of relevant applications include trays, bottles and drinking cups.
Total Corbion PLA is committed to developing the recycling value chain together with specialised PLA recycling companies to stimulate demand for rPLA, thereby increasing recycling rates for PLA-based products.
This whitepaper is an open invitation for parties in the value chain to become involved, said the company.