Industry insight

The carbon cycle: nature’s biggest circular economy

The circular economy involves moving from a waste society to a model in which materials are reused in their entirety and where waste is replaced by resources. Environmental, social and economic sustainability play a central role in the circular economy, in which resources are primarily recovered by reuse and recycling waste back into the production cycle.

Optimize your ground coffee production by choosing the right packaging solution

An often forgotten part of the circular economy is the carbon cycle, nature’s biggest circular economy. The optimal valorisation of short cycle carbon is a fundamental step towards the development of a truly sustainable circular economy that achieves the maximum economic and environmental benefits.

Among the best example of the circular system, is that based on bioplastic as the reference materials for food packaging and catering thanks to its biodegradability and compostability, which represent added value for products contaminated with food scraps which would otherwise be difficult or uneconomical to recycle.

Bioplastic that are biodegradable and compostable according to international standard EN 13432 can be disposed of in separate organic waste collection and sent to composting facilities, thereby completing a virtuous circle: raw materials are returned to the earth through biodegradation or composting without emitting pollutants or greenhouse gases.

Many innovative and successful companies in the food sector are making such a clear choice in favour of environmental sustainability, showing that, contrary to popular opinion, competitiveness can go hand in hand with concern for the environment. Addressing the problem of the end of life of products used for consuming food and beverage, and therefore of the production and disposal of waste, means having a consistent attitude to environmental responsibility and generational responsibility. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, we have a duty to respect the world we live in because we are borrowing it from our children.

Not only food. An efficient, hygienic and clean organic waste collection is actually possible by using bags made of biodegradable and compostable bioplastic, according to EN 13432 international standard. The bags are perfectly suited for any organic waste collection and processing system currently in use in Europe as shown by several European municipalities (from Milan to Vienna, from Manchester to Copenhagen and Geneva and so on).

The recently revised EU Waste Framework Directive is mandating the recycling of organic waste in all Member States by the end of 2024.

Moreover, it is prescribing that from 2027 only organic waste separated at source will actually be accountable for the recycling targets, and by 2035 a maximum allowance of 10% organic waste sent to landfill will be set. In the next years it will therefore be essential to set up efficient and successful collection models, such as the one developed by different European municipalities that adopted bioplastic bags.

Europe produces 96 million tonnes of organic waste, only 30% of which is properly recycled, while 66 million tonnes are still sent to disposal, at considerable environmental, economic and social costs. In fact, organic waste in landfills can become extremely dangerous, since it produces methane gas and leachate potentially polluting the groundwater and negatively affecting human health and the climate.

Both at European and local level, with the new policies to stimulate the recovery of resources and the production of renewable energy, including biogas, it is more important than ever to ensure efficient separation and collection of organic waste in order to make best use of it, transforming it into biogas and high quality compost, thereby closing the organic carbon cycle. Strong synergies can derive through the use of compostable food packaging and waste collection bags for the production of renewable energy and quality compost from organic waste.

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