Ingeo News: Vol 15, Iss 7

August 2020

Italy's EPR System Presents Opportunities for Compostable Plastics

Recently, NatureWorks' Global Public Affairs Director, Mariagiovanna Vetere, presented during a BBIA webinar on Italy's Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policy approach and how the system can be an example to other countries. Since recent talk of Italy's compostable packaging EPR scheme and how the UK can learn from it as they look to reform, has been a topic in the news lately and the BBIA webinar was an informative success, we decided to sit down with Mariagiovanna Vetere to learn more about EPR and what kind of opportunities it can bring to compostable plastics.

Q. What is EPR and how does Italy's system differ from others?
Vetere: EPR stands for Extended Producer Responsibility and is an environmental policy approach in which a producer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle. An EPR policy is characterized by the shifting of responsibility (physically and/or economically - fully or partially) upstream toward the producer; and the provision of incentives to producers to take into account environmental considerations when designing their products.

While other policy instruments tend to target a single point in the chain, EPR seeks to integrate signals related to the environmental characteristics of products and production processes throughout the product chain.  

European legislation has applied EPR principles to packaging and packaging waste but in Italy, the EPR is applied following a “shared model” where the packaging industry is cooperating and sharing costs with municipalities and local authorities.

Q. Can you tell us about Biorepack?
 Sure; the Italian consortium managing EPR for packaging is called CONAI and their membership consists of packaging producers and users which, by paying the CONAI Environmental Contribution (CAC), cover the costs of collection, recovery, and recycling of packaging put on the market. CONAI operates via material consortia. The plastic packaging consortium is called Corepla and they focus on mechanical recycling.

So then, Biorepack aims to be the consortium focusing on organic recycling. They would use fees paid by the packaging industry to support municipalities for collection of organic waste, composting plants, and anaerobic digestion plants to process compostable packaging.

Q. What's next for Italy's EPR system?
 The Consortium Biorepack does not have the official approval yet, but it should arrive in the fall. Immediately after that, it will start operating and supporting composters and municipalities.

Q. And how can other countries benefit from Italy's example?
 Other countries can set a similar system to finance composting infrastructure and improve organic waste collection. In Europe, this can be managed via the EPR system in place but it is possible to have similar systems in other geographies and not necessarily under the umbrella of the EPR. What matters is finding a way to finance and support local communities and composting plants to grow organic waste treatment where compostable packaging can play a relevant role. 

WATCH: BBIA webinar, Implementation og the New EPR scheme in Italy for Compostable Packaging" with Mariagiovanna Vetere (NatureWorks), David Newman (BBIA), and Robbie Staniforth (Ecosurety), June 2020.

New US University Case Study Confirms Coffee Pod Degradation

Life Cycle Assessment of Compostable Coffee Pods: A University Based Case Study was recently published in Nature's scientific reports. The study, which utilized the local composting facility at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, demonstrates the success found in composting compostable coffee pods in an industrial facility. In addition to an LCA that concluded "compostable pods have the least burden on the environment", testing and analysis found complete pod degradation within 46 days and a cost savings of 21% in waste disposal in addition to creating a value-add product in rich compost which was recirculated to campus gardens and farms. Read the study here.

A Rising Demand for Sustainable Pods

The July/August edition of the Tea & Coffee Trade Journal featured the article, Coffee Pods vs HoReCa (pg. 20) which explores the upswing in coffee pod purchases as fewer people go out to get their coffee. Tea & Coffee reached out to NatureWorks' Global Industry Manager, Flavio Di Marcotullio, for his thoughts on how NatureWorks may respond to the rising demand for sustainable pods. "Currently, coffee capsules made with Ingeo are available from our partners in both North America and Europe for multiple brewing systems," said Di Marcotullio. "We expect to see several more brands launch in North America and Europe with Ingeo-based compostable capsules within the next year or two." Read the article.         

Breaking the Plastic Wave

"We need to raise our level of ambition and match it with bold and urgent action", says Dame Ellen MacArthur in the new video highlighting the recent Pew Charitable Trusts and SYSTEMIQ study released called Breaking the Plastic Wave: A Comprehensive Assessment of Pathways Toward Stopping Ocean Plastic Pollution. The report notably calls for "[substituting] plastic with paper and compostable materials switching 1/6 of projected plastic waste generation by 2040."

In "The circular economy solution to plastic pollution", the Ellen MacArthur Foundation notes that failure to act on current plastics pollution will cause the world to see ocean plastic stocks quadruple by 2040. They believe the solution lies in a circular economy as recycling or disposing our way out of this plastic predicament won't work. "We need to eliminate all of the plastic we don't need, innovate for the plastic we do, making sure it's reusable, recyclable, or compostable. And, importantly, we need to circulate everything we have, be it plastic or biological material." Read more here.



eSUN to release ePLA-ST
If you're looking for a super-tough PLA filament, keep an eye out for eSUN's new PLA-ST made with Ingeo. The "ST" stands for "super tough"! It'll be suitable for printing prototypes of mechanical parts, IT manufacturing, machinery, and electrical parts. The filament will have the characteristics of high impact resistance, high elongation at break, low warping, high bonding strength, high printing accuracy, smooth printing, light aging resistance, and air oxidization resistance. Learn more here.


PG Tips makes the switch to biodegradable teabags made with Ingeo and vows to omit all plastic packaging by next year.
As a part of #PlasticFreeJuly PG Tips, one of the biggest tea brands in the UK, touted their new biodegradable tea bags and parent company, Unilever, said they are "extremely proud" to be the first major tea brand to use biodegradable bags across their entire range of offerings. PG Tips also announced their plan to go fully plant-based and remove all plastic from their packaging by the end of 2021. Read more here or on the PG Tips Sustainability page

Food Serviceware

Fabri-Kal Introduces a fresh, new (and informative) look for their Greenware brand. Fabri-Kal's Ingeo-based and newly updated Greenware Cup and Portion Cup stock print design promotes zero waste to landfill efforts by clearly signaling to users that the cup is commercially compostable. The new Greenware label also features the BPI label indicating to consumers and composters that they're certified according to ASTM D6400 standards and the design also helps differentiate them from those made of traditional plastic. Read the release here.


The Wave, of which NatureWorks is a member, is a coalition in the Pacific Northwest collaborating to accelerate environmental programs addressing climate change, environmental justice, and youth engagement, conducted a very successful food distribution event open to the public in Cascade Locks, Oregon. 

COVID-19 has been affecting the Northwest's food system due to sudden closures of event centers, restaurants, and other public venues. The Wave responded with their healthy and sustainable food program to increase local food recovery, help people get back to work, feed vulnerable communities, and promote more resilient community food systems. Read more about The Wave and their food program here



Printing Consciously: Considering Sustainability in 3D Printing | August 18, 2020
A NatureWorks Webinar

Presenters: Dan Sawyer, Business Development Leader and Deepak Venkatraman, Applications Development Engineer from NatureWorks

A renewed focus on climate change and the impacts petrochemical plastics have on the environment has many individuals and companies considering how they can incorporate more sustainable practices into their efforts. The additive manufacturing industry has long been a leader in how technology can fit into a progression toward more sustainable  production. In this webinar, we will dig into the sustainability attributes behind the materials often used in fused filament fabrication (FFF) processes that have an environmental impact.  We’ll also talk about how 3D prints fit within common waste scenarios as well as new sustainability frameworks like the circular economy. 
Event is complimentary - REGISTER HERE.                     

Sustainable Coffee Pod Performance | September 9, 2020
A NatureWorks Webinar

SAVE THE DATE: More information coming soon.

Presenters: Flavio Di Marcotullio, Joshua Weed, & Donavon Kirschbaum from NatureWorks

RISE | September 23 - 30, 2020 | Virtual Conference
On Wednesday, Sept. 30th, NatureWorks' Director of Fibers and Nonwovens, Robert Green, will present, "Driving Production Efficiency and Performance in N95 Face Masks".

SPC Advance Virtual | September 29 - 30 | online
NatureWorks' Shannon Pinc will be a table leader for the roundtable discussion: How can brands and suppliers work with municipalities and composters to plan for the future of compostable packaging?

Green Sports Alliance 10th Annual Summit | October 13 - 14 | online
NatureWorks is the proud sponsor of this virtual event with a focus on environmental and social justice issues the sports industry will face over the next decade.

Special Thank you to our Blair Team!

At NatureWorks, we're especially grateful to our amazing manufacturing team in Blair, Nebraska for all of their hard work during this very trying and unpredictable pandemic time. Not only has the team not missed a manufacturing beat, but they have also maintained a stellar health and safety record within the plant. Thanks team; you keep us running! 💚

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Available Job Opportunities:

Senior Financial Analyst | Minnetonka, MN
Responsible for providing financial analysis, collaboration and cross-functional support for the Finance Department, company management and other departments within NatureWorks. The position will focus on building and managing financial tools, reporting mechanisms, business models and financial planning processes that will effectively scale with the company's growth.  This position possesses and applies a broad knowledge of principles, practices, controls and procedures for the completion of strategic Finance assignments.

Contracts Administrator / Administrative Assistant | Minnetonka, MN
Responsible for providing contract administration support to the Executive Team and Senior Leaders, and provide support to the Administrative and Senior Leaders, as well as to the members, of the Technology and Admin Teams, as needed. Responsibilities of this role include legal contract administration, and maintenance of Intellectual Property files and database

Applied Mathematician | Minnetonka, MN
Responsible for gathering and translating fundamental physical, chemical, and engineering knowledge into useful mathematical models, deterministic or stochastic, including their execution (computation), to shape and/or evaluate new product and/or application concepts within given boundary conditions. The role includes postulating hypotheses and guiding or conducting effective experimentation to validate the hypotheses. This position will also collaborate with project team members on statistical design of experiments and analysis of results for statistical significance.

Keep up with ALL of our available job opportunities on our Careers page.