RECYCLING OF BIOPLASTICS
The recycling of polymers after their use is now seen by the public authorities as one of the preferred solutions, particularly in France since the vote on the AGEC law in early 2020.
Emphasis is therefore often placed on the development of recyclable solutions that also allow the use of recycled polymers.
Bioplastics must therefore fit into this new model and demonstrate their ability to meet the various requirements.
THE question is therefore very often: can this bioplastic be recycled?
But there is no ready-made answer to this legitimate question.
In fact, in order to determine the capacity of a polymer to be recycled, the following points should always be considered:
- What recycling are we talking about? Mechanical recycling has been the most widely used for years but is beginning to face competition from chemical or enzymatic recycling (find our definitions of terms related to recycling in our glossary).
- Nature of the material? In theory, all thermoplastics (polymers with the ability to be melted and remelted under the effect of heat) are mechanically recyclable, provided that their properties are well preserved. That doesn’t mean they are.
- Which application? The fundamental point is to know how the end of life of my product is managed today. If it falls within the framework of an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) sector, producers have the choice of setting up collective non-profit structures, called eco-organizations, or forming their own individual system. The oldest and most emblematic EPR sector has been dealing with household packaging since 1992. In this case, good practice guides are issued, product/material pairs with the best ability to be recycled are thus identified, then potentially collected, sorted and then recycled. More and more channels are thus emerging, with different requirements and targets. It is also possible that no channel exists today for the product. In this case, apart from individual initiatives by manufacturers or groups of manufacturers, there is little chance that the end of life of your product will be optimized.
Biodegradability and composting of bioplastic
- Domestic composting (also called Home Compost), which can be done by individuals in conditions which are barely controlled or not at all.
- Industrial composting, which is carried out on dedicated platforms with regulated conditions.