Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does biodegradation mean?

Biodegradation is a chemical process in which materials are broken down to CO2, water, and biomass with the help of microorganisms. The term “biodegradable” should always be associated with the type of location (e.g. soil, water, in vitro medium), the conditions (e.g. temperature and humidity) and the duration of the biodegradation.

  • What does compostability mean?

Compostability is a characteristic of a product that enables biodegradation under specific conditions (i.e. a certain temperature, timeframe, etc.). Materials can be composted at industrial conditions with controlled temperature, or in home-compost (in soil, at ambient temperature), at aerobic or anaerobic conditions.

Important to note not all biodegradable plastic is compostable, but all compostable plastic is biodegradable.

  • What is the difference between industrial and home composting?

The main difference between industrial and home-composting is that the conditions in industrial composting facilities are controlled, e.g. temperature are higher (50-60°C) and kept stable. Products labelled as compostable at industrial conditions must be in compliance with European standard EN 13432.

Home composting is a much slower process, it involves a smaller volume of waste and the conditions of composting are less constant since they are influenced by multiple other factors such as weather conditions.

  • What does recycling mean?

Recycling is the technological process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects while reusing means using the same plastic object again in the same form without modifying it technologically.

  • What type of products can be recycled?

The end of life behaviour of a material (biodegradable, compostable, non-biodegradable) determines its suitability for recycling.

Only the non-biodegradable packaging is suitable for mechanical recycling through plastics and packaging waste collection if they are collected, sorted into separate reprocessing streams. Biodegradable and compostable plastics have to be separated from traditional plastics waste streams, to ensure high-quality recyclates production and the durability of plastic products.

The different recycling routes should not compromise each other as it can contaminate the final product.

  • What does active packaging mean?

Incorporation of certain components into the packaging systems that absorb substances from or release into the packaged food or the surrounding environment to prevent undesirable changes in the food.

  • What does intelligent packaging mean?

Intelligent food packaging monitors and gives indication of the quality of the packaged food and thus guarantee its safety.

If you want to read more: GLOPACK Position paper on the Benefits of home compostable biodegradable materials for a sustainable food chain.

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