Oh So Confusing...

Is it recyclable, biodegradable, compostable? Nichols hosted the Essentials of Sustainable Packaging in our Rochester Hills branch recently, a program of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, a project of GreenBlue. The answers to the whether something is recyclable, biodegradable or compostable can be very confusing and then add to that bio-based versus non-bio-based options, 3rd party certifications and many more related topics. We are going to spend a few blog posts trying to sort through some of this for you but we wanted to share one topic right now because we get asked this question often about trash can liners. Finally, a position paper from the Sustainable Packaging Coalition about the use of additives to plastics and whether they work or what environmental issues they can create. We are providing a link to the full report from the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, however the last statement in their position paper: “Barring significant advancements, the SPC’s position is firmly against the use of any biodegradability additive in any petroleum-based plastic” is ultimately the message. Read the full paper

Approximately 10 years ago Nichols was introduced to trash can liners with Oxo additives and we were skeptical about the validity of such a process. There was little research at the time but we did find some being conducted in Europe which gave us a hunch that we shouldn’t venture down this path and offer to our customers any longer.  Here is a link to an article that may be easier reading.

For those of you who want to be more sustainable with your cleaning programs, Nichols offers options in trash can liners. For liners that hold materials that will be sent to landfill, and to help close the recycling loop and meet LEED standards for a Green Cleaning Program, the recommendation is to use can liners that have a minimum of 10% post-consumer recycled content. Nichols carries two options that qualify: Heritage Bag (contain 10% minimum post-consumer) and Petoskey Plastics (a low density, 70% post-consumer recycled content and made in Michigan).

For those of you who are composting on a commercial scale, certification of the liner is important. For a compostable bag the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) certification and the testing standard ASTM-6400 is what you want to look for. Nichols offers the Biotuf brand of liners by Heritage Bag that meet this criteria and have been tested in some commercial composters in Michigan.

We hope this clears up some confusion for you, we will post more knowledge that we learned today from this workshop over the next few weeks.