14 April 2011

Landmark bioplastics deal for London 2012 Olympics suppliers

All non-reusable and non-recyclable packaging must be compostable

Packaging destined for the London 2012 Olympic Park will have to be made from compostable bioplastics if it cannot be recycled in existing waste streams after a landmark agreement between organisers and bioplastics producers, Packaging News can reveal.

LOCOG, the Games’ organizing committee, has signed an agreement with the National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC), the trade body that represents biopolymers producers, for the NNFCC to oversee suppliers of non-recyclable packaging to the Games. Under the agreement, all non-reusable and non-recyclable packaging – such as crisp packets, fast-food trays or liquid cartons – must be independently certified under the EN 13432 standard for compostability.

The compostable packaging will have to be made from starch or cellulose-based plastics. Plastic PET bottles made from standard oil-based polymers will not be included in the agreement as they can be recycled in existing waste streams. It is hoped that the agreement will help LOGOG achieve its target of sending zero waste to landfill directly from the Olympic Park during the Games by diverting much of the compostable packaging to anaerobic digesters, where it will be converted to energy.

The organisation has committed to reusing, recycling or composting some 70% of an estimated 3,300 tonnes of food packaging waste that will be generated during the Games.

NNFCC head of materials John Williams said: “The Olympics provide a unique opportunity to showcase the simplicity of using renewable packaging, particularly for food, and recovering its stored energy and end-of-life using anaerobic digestion.”

European Bioplastics Association chairman Andy Sweetman, who is also global marketing manager for sustainable technologies at Innovia Films, added that using bioplastics at the Olympics would “demonstrate to the public how seriously the packaging industry is taking sustainability”.

The bioplastics requirement is just one of a number of packaging-related measures taken for London 2012, and all licensees for Games merchandise must include the BRC’s On-Pack Recycling Label.

Olympics packs in numbers

  • 3,300 Estimated tonnes of food packaging waste from the Games
  • 70% Target for reuse, recycling or composting of Games packaging
  • 6.5m Expected visitors to the Games

Source: packagingnews.co.uk, 2011-04-14.

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