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Going green with biodegradable products

Author:arjieer Date:2011-5-12 12:54:36

The move to replace plastics – such as shopping bags, packaging, food containers (clamshells, plates, cups, bowls) and cutlery – is currently focused on areas where they are the most visible. Penang has banned retailers from handing out free plastic bags to shoppers and disallowed food sellers in municipal council-operated hawker centres from using polystyrene clamshells and plates. Selangor is toying with the same idea.

Manufacturers of alternatives to disposable plastic foodware are quick to trumpet the biodegradability of their products. Selangor-based Greatpac, manufacturer of the Jasa Eco (jasa-eco.com) range of disposable tableware that is bio-based (a blend of 70% corn starch and 30% conventional polypropylene, or PP), said its products can be expected to degrade within five years after being landfilled.

“We are confident that 70% of the product will degrade and this is still better than totally no degradation,’’ said senior manager Douglas Tan.

The company also makes a polystyrene clamshell (codenamed JEF2) which contains additives that will make it biodegrade under low or zero oxygen (anaerobic) conditions. It clarified that while JEF2 is not a bio-based product (like its starch-based series), the clamshell can be expected to biodegrade within two to five years in local landfills (based on extrapolated lab results).