We love the greener way of life. Unfortunately, though the term ‘biodegradable’ has become a common word in today’s society, there isn’t yet such a thing as biodegradable shrink wrap plastic. As small and large companies alike are increasingly concerned with the impact non-sustainable products are having on the environment, it’s particularly disappointing that some manufacturers are prepared to mislead consumers with claims that their products are biodegradable when simply they’re not. The question arises then, what is the definition of biodegradable shrink plastic films, and how can you tell if you’re being misled?
What Are Biodegradable Shrink Wrap Plastic Films Supposed to Do?
A manufacturer of oxo biodegradable film once stated that-
“Currently, there are no industrial technologies that result in the production of a biodegradable shrink film in the strictest sense – meaning a film compatible with the market requirements”.
This statement was made in relation to display shrink wrap plastic which is principally based on polyolefin structures.
What does this mean though? In simple terms, biodegradable shrink wrap plastic films must be able to decompose in the presence of bacteria of other micro-organisms under natural conditions, producing water, CO2 and biomass, as described by the European Standard EN 13432. Currently, however, shrink wrap plastics don’t do this.
Rules and Regulations of Biodegradable Shrink Plastic Films
Whenever shrink wrap plastic is placed on the market it must first conform with the requirements of the EU Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste (94/62/EC), as well as being assessed by the Harmonised Standard EN 13432, which defines the correct assessment criteria, considering biodegradability, compostability, and the potentially harmful material constituents of the product.
Are “Degradable” Shrink Plastic Films Truly Biodegradable?
While we’d love to tell you that yes, they are, the truth is that degradable, or oxo degradable materials, are no more than polymers derived in the normal way from oil where special additives, which have been available for more than 20 years, have been added. This allows shrink wrap plastics to break down, although their basic molecular structure is still maintained.
So-called biodegradable shrink plastic films degrade in that sense, but there is no change whatsoever in their chemical composition and hence, there is no true biodegradation.
What is the Alternative and What Does the Future Hold for Shrink Wrap Plastics?
Oxo-Biodegradable shrink plastic films may offer a first step, but they aren’t truly biodegradable, and whilst they may point the way towards a more biodegradable product, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that they aren’t. Naturally, in the event that true biodegradable shrink films do become available, you can be assured that we’ll be at the forefront of their introduction.
Currently we advocate that the most responsible approach is to minimise film thickness thereby minimising resource uptake. With this in mind, we have a range of materials that are both thinner and stronger than conventional materials which we are delighted to introduce to you.
In the future, we’re hoping that there’ll be completely biodegradable shrink plastic films for companies and business to benefit from. In the mean time, we offer a full range of equipment and film available for testing at our showrooms in Stanmore, Middlesex.
If you’d like to find out more about Kempner and our shrink wrapping equipment, contact us today on 020 8952 5262.