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16 March 2020
United Kingdom

20 Years High Wire Cucumber Event

To pack or not to pack?

We live in a time of reflecting our behavior and habits to secure the quality of life for the generations to come. Topics such as sustainability, environmental protection, and waste reduction do not only play a crucial role in the public debate but also lead to a change in our shopping and consumption behavior. Recent studies show that consumers are increasingly opting for products that create as little packaging waste as possible. As a result, more and more supermarkets are offering unpacked products or replace specific types of packaging on their shelves with a focus on avoidance of plastics.

We at BASF Vegetable Seeds are engaged in this transition and organized a ‘Morning Snack
Session
’, during Fruit Logistica 2020 in Berlin. During this session, Anne Jancic (Marketing and Business Development High Tech at BASF Vegetable Seeds) and guest speaker Victoria Wessolowski (coordinating BASF’s Industry Team Packaging Europe) took cucumber enthusiasts from all over the world onto a journey into consumers’ eyes and shared facts & figures around sustainable packaging. Afterwards there was time for Q&A. Lead by Account Manager Cucumber Rens Muusers, the group discussed about the challenges they are facing, accompanied with some delicious cucumber snacks.

Q&A around sustainable packaging

73% of European consumers say that they try to avoid plastic waste and thus put plastic waste as No 1 of their sustainable challenges. In the same way, they consider the manufacturers as key responsible for limiting plastic waste and finding solutions. Politics are supposed to create the right framework and retailers are seen as the ‘lawyers’ in reducing plastic waste.

Source: GfK study. GfK. Plastics. Who cares? Who does? 2019

30-40% of our globally produced food for human consumption is lost and wasted, representing a value of USD 936 billion and generating 4.4 Gt CO2 every year.

Source: FAO: http://www.fao.org/3/a-bb144e.pdf

Vegetables are representing 22% of these. Not a surprise, that the United Nations defined the goal to halve global food waste per capita at retail & consumer level and to reduce food losses along production & supply chains, including post-harvest losses by 2030.

Source: SDG Indicator UN: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300

Even though both are belonging to the family of bioplastics, bio-based products are sourced from biomass at beginning of their life cycle and can – but do not have to - be also biodegradable at the end of their life, whereas bio-degradable plastics are turning into organic biomass at the end of their life cycle and can – but do not have to- be also bio-based.

Source: European Bioplastics

Although very different in their biodegradation behavior and material property, the different classes are often misused as interchangeable synonyms.

Biodegradable plastic means that the plastic is metabolized (“eaten”) by naturally occurring microorganisms. The final products of the process are carbon dioxide, water and microbial biomass.

Compostable plastics belong to the bio-degradable family but link that biodegradation behavior to a specific environment (compost). For industrial compostability, they are certified according to ASTM D6400 (in the U.S.) or EN 13432 (in Europe). They “will disintegrate within 12 weeks and biodegrade at least 90% within 180 days in a municipal or industrial composting facility” (Source: Greendotbioplastics).

Oxo-degradable plastics are not biodegradable, but conventional plastics that are mixed with an additive to mimic biodegradation. However, these additives only facilitate a fragmentation of the materials, which do not fully degrade but break down into very small fragments that remain in the environment. 

Source: European Bioplastics

BASF is marketing a broad range of products for plastic packaging including a variety of material sources (containing bio-based, biomass-balanced or recycled content), material properties such as certified compostability, dispersions for adhesives as well as resins and additives for printing inks and barrier coatings.  Besides, BASF is intensively involved in the development of the new technologies for more efficient manufacturing and processing, more effective packaging use as well as chemical, mechanical and organic recycling routes for packaging.

For example, with ecovio® BASF offers a high-quality and versatile biopolymer. It is certified as compostable according to standards for industrial and home composting in a lot of countries, and partly bio-based. If used for packaging of fruit and vegetable, studies show that packaging made of ecovio can increase the shelf life of fresh food like mushrooms or tomatoes due to its optimal breathability.

More information can be found at

 

Last Update 16 March 2020