TIPA’s Products

At TIPA, sustainability is not only an integral part of our strategy – it is the essence of our existence. Our environmental commitments and goals are embedded in our mission, strategy and code of business conduct, and we are committed to running our business in a long-term sustainable manner.

Environmental implications were kept in mind throughout the entire development process. All elements along the value chain, from the source of raw materials, through the components of the film, manufacturing processes and delivery to end users have taken environmental responsibility into consideration.

Tipa’s products, compounds and films comply with EU 13432 and ASTM D6400 standards and are certified for both home and industrial composting through the OK Compost mark by the Vincotte institute. Tipa’s materials also meet food contact regulation requirements in Europe and the US.


Composting At Home

Composting At Home

This information is from EPA Website. View link here

Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. Food scraps and yard waste currently make up 20 to 30 percent of what we throw away, and should be composted instead. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Composting Basics
All composting requires three basic ingredients:

  1. Browns – This includes materials such as dead leaves, branches, and twigs.
  2. Greens – This includes materials such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds.
  3. Water – Having the right amount of water, greens, and browns is important for compost development.

Your compost pile should have an equal amount of browns to greens. You should also alternate layers of organic materials of different-sized particles. The brown materials provide carbon for your compost, the green materials provide nitrogen, and the water provides moisture to help break down the organic matter.

What To Compost

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea bags
  • Nut shells
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Yard trimmings
  • Grass clippings
  • Houseplants
  • Hay and straw
  • Leaves
  • Sawdust
  • Wood chips
  • Cotton and Wool Rags
  • Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
  • Hair and fur
  • Fireplace ashes

What Not To Compost and Why?

  • Black walnut tree leaves or twigs
    – Releases substances that might be harmful to plants
  • Coal or charcoal ash
    – Might contain substances harmful to plants
  • Dairy products (e.g., butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt) and eggs*
    – Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
  • Diseased or insect-ridden plants
    – Diseases or insects might survive and be transferred back to other plants
  • Fats, grease, lard, or oils*
    – Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
  • Meat or fish bones and scraps*
    – Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
  • Pet wastes (e.g., dog or cat feces, soiled cat litter)*
    – Might contain parasites, bacteria, germs, pathogens, and viruses harmful to humans
  • Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides
    – Might kill beneficial composting organisms* Check with your local composting or recycling coordinator to see if these organics are accepted by your community curbside or drop-off composting program.

Helpful Link Reducing Wasted Food Basics

Benefits of Compostingholding soil in hands

  • Enriches soil, helping retain moisture and suppress plant diseases and pests.
  • Reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.
  • Encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, a rich nutrient-filled material.
  • Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.

How to Compost at Home

There are many different ways to make a compost pile; we have provided the following for general reference. Helpful tools include pitchforks, square-point shovels or machetes, and water hoses with a spray head. Regular mixing or turning of the compost and some water will help maintain the compost.

Backyard Composting

  • Select a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin.
  • Add brown and green materials as they are collected, making sure larger pieces are chopped or shredded.
  • Moisten dry materials as they are added.
  • Once your compost pile is established, mix grass clippings and green waste into the pile and bury fruit and vegetable waste under 10 inches of compost material.
  • Optional: Cover top of compost with a tarp to keep it moist. When the material at the bottom is dark and rich in color, your compost is ready to use. This usually takes anywhere between two months to two years.

Indoor Composting

If you do not have space for an outdoor compost pile, you can compost materials indoors using a special type of bin, which you can buy at a local hardware store, gardening supplies store, or make yourself. Remember to tend your pile and keep track of what you throw in. A properly managed compost bin will not attract pests or rodents and will not smell bad. Your compost should be ready in two to five weeks.

How to Build a Worm Composting Bin: Learn how to create and maintain an indoor worm composting bin

 This information is from EPA Website. View link here

The EPA welcomes comments and questions. Contact EPA  to ask a questions!

“YogaLyte Encourages Consumers to Join the Sustainable Movement” By Elyssa Bloom 

YogaLyte Encourages Consumers to Join the Sustainable Movement By Elyssa Bloom

Tipa Blog Post March 29, 2018

In addition to sourcing pure ingredients ethically, YogaLyte’s compostable packaging reinforces their sustainable efforts to serve the health of individual bodies as well as the health of the planet.

YogaLyte differentiates their product by being a natural electrolyte supplement for hot yoga enthusiasts and athletes looking to increase performance by improving hydration. Refining and perfecting their product is of utmost importance for YogaLyte as a company. Their product extends beyond the ingredients to include their packaging. They are committed to advancing eco-friendly packaging solutions to decrease post-consumer waste. Louise Sanseau, founder of YogaLyte, and her team decided to place on the bottom of each on-the-go packet words of wisdom and encouragement via proverbs taken from ancient cultures all over the globe. One, in fact, caught the eye of TIPA that reads, “The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step”.

Why? Because the Taoist proverb, one amongst many proverbs included in YogaLyte’s repertoire, resonates as part of YogaLyte’s steps to shift consumer awareness of post-consumer waste and a prominent reason why YogaLyte decided to work with TIPA. Louise says, “Rather than blame and shame the industry or individuals, YogaLyte aims to inspire and encourage people to join a movement.” She also adds, “It has been a long process of developing a product, as well as packaging with TIPA, that is both sustainable and ethical.” Taking the proper steps to perfect their brand and the values behind it have set YogaLyte up for success. Louise and her team are adamant to “never rush preparation,” a slogan she and her team live by as both yoga practitioners, as well as through the development of Yogalyte as a sustainable business.

A challenging situation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where YogaLyte is headquartered, is that there is “not a path to follow” in terms of a closed loop system and composting. Another challenge is product recognition from municipal compost centers and “making sure our small wrappers can be recognized as compostable.” Luckily, YogaLyte has another Zen proverb to help them, “The obstacle is the path.” Louise has taken the time to create a solution to make composting easy from remote locations. “We do not have a local municipal compost center. To “close the loop” we collect our compostable packaging at the studio and ship it to various compost centers in BioBags. While measuring the carbon footprint of this process, we are building relationships with compost centers, refining our packaging graphics so that the centers know that it is compostable, and educating our customers on where and how to compost.” They make the process of collecting compostable packaging easy for their clients and this process is something she wants to promote with all studios, gyms, and prospective customers using YogaLyte packaging. Louise has made it a personal mission to inspire and empower people to use sustainable packaging by making systems super simple and accessible.  “We all want to do good, to have less trash in the ocean, and to have clean drinking water. We just need to create effective and easy systems for the fast-paced consumer to jump aboard.” In Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah, where YogaLyte has been selling their electrolytes directly to gyms and fitness studios, they have been tweaking and “slowly building the brand so that we are ready for the West Coast.”

Since their soft launch in November last year, YogaLyte is expanding their hydration line as well as launching a matcha green tea and instant coffee line this spring. They are hitting the Bay Area, Portland, and Seattle in April and selling direct to consumers by summer. YogaLyte is currently selling their electrolytes in gyms, yoga, Pilates, and cycling studios, various spas, and wellness centers and offering businesses a private label option. Each small step has paid off in growing their brand as a sustainable company. Louise can confirm that “orders are lined up for the

Check for the TIPA label on the back of the package to know it’s fully compostable

next round of production.” Their longer development phase in Wyoming has prepared them to enter urban centers that are already composting and hit the ground running. They are excited to network with consumers and brands to shift the consumer packaged goods industry to compostable packaging. “We believe in working together with individuals, communities, businesses, and local waste centers to create this shift.” With inspiration from an African Proverb about the value of teamwork, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

By Elyssa Bloom (Link To Article)

“Your Recycling Gets Recycled, Right? Maybe, or Maybe Not” – By Livia Albeck-Ripka

Your Recycling Gets Recycled, Right? Maybe, or Maybe Not
By Livia Albeck-Ripka posted in The New York Times, May 29, 2018

Link to Article Here

Plastics and papers from dozens of American cities and towns are being dumped in landfills after China stopped recycling most “foreign garbage.”

Oregon is serious about recycling. Its residents are accustomed to dutifully separating milk cartons, yogurt containers, cereal boxes and kombucha bottles from their trash to divert them from the landfill. But this year, because of a far-reaching rule change in China, some of the recyclables are ending up in the local dump anyway.

In recent months, in fact, thousands of tons of material left curbside for recycling in dozens of American cities and towns — including several in Oregon — have gone to landfills.

In the past, the municipalities would have shipped much of their used paper, plastics and other scrap materials to China for processing. But as part of a broad antipollution campaign, China announced last summer that it no longer wanted to import “foreign garbage.” Since Jan. 1 it has banned imports of various types of plastic and paper, and tightened standards for materials it does accept.

While some waste managers already send their recyclable materials to be processed domestically, or are shipping more to other countries, others have been unable to find a substitute for the Chinese market. “All of a sudden, material being collected on the street doesn’t have a place to go,” said Pete Keller, vice president of recycling and sustainability at Republic Services, one of the largest waste managers in the country.

China’s stricter requirements also mean that loads of recycling are more likely to be considered contaminated if they contain materials that are not recyclable. That has compounded a problem that waste managers call wishful or aspirational recycling: people setting aside items for recycling because they believe or hope they are recyclable, even when they aren’t.

In the Pacific Northwest, Republic has diverted more than 2,000 tons of paper to landfills since the Chinese ban came into effect, Mr. Keller said. The company has been unable to move that material to a market “at any price or cost,” he said. Though Republic is dumping only a small portion of its total inventory so far — the company handles over five million tons of recyclables nationwide each year — it sent little to no paper to landfills last year.

But for smaller companies, like Rogue Disposal and Recycling, which serves much of Oregon, the Chinese ban has upended operations. Rogue sent all its recycling to landfills for the first few months of the year, said Garry Penning, a spokesman.

Western states, which have relied the most on Chinese recycling plants, have been hit especially hard. In some areas — like Eugene, Ore., and parts of Idaho, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii — local officials and garbage haulers will no longer accept certain items for recycling, in some cases refusing most plastics, glass and certain types of paper. Instead, they say, customers should throw these items in the trash.

Theresa Byrne, who lives in Salem, Ore., said the city took too long to inform residents that most plastics and egg and milk cartons were now considered garbage. “I was angry,” she said. “I believe in recycling.”

Other communities, like Grants Pass, Ore., home to about 37,000 people, are continuing to encourage their residents to recycle as usual, but the materials are winding up in landfills anyway. Local waste managers said they were concerned that if they told residents to stop recycling, it could be hard to get them to start again.

It is “difficult with the public to turn the spigot on and off,” said Brian Fuller, a waste manager with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

The fallout has spread beyond the West Coast. Ben Harvey, the president of E.L. Harvey & Sons, a recycling company based in Westborough, Mass., said that he had around 6,000 tons of paper and cardboard piling up, when he would normally have a couple hundred tons stockpiled. The bales are filling almost half of his 80,000-square-foot facility.

“It’s really impacted our day-to-day operations,” Mr. Harvey said. “It’s stifling me.”

Recyclers in Canada, Australia, Britain, Germany and other parts of Europe have also scrambled to find alternatives.

Still, across much of the United States, including most major cities, recycling is continuing as usual. Countries like India, Vietnam and Indonesia are importing more of the materials that are not processed domestically. And some waste companies have responded to China’s ban by stockpiling material while looking for new processors, or hoping that China reconsiders its policy.

Americans recycle roughly 66 million tons of material each year, according to the most recent figures from the Environmental Protection Agency, about one-third of which is exported. The majority of those exports once went to China, said David Biderman, the executive director of the Solid Waste Association of North America, a research and advocacy group.

But American scrap exports to China fell by about 35 percent in the first two months of this year, after the ban was implemented, said Joseph Pickard, chief economist for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, a trade group.

“It’s a huge concern, because China has just been such a dominant overseas market for us,” Mr. Pickard said.

In particular, exports of scrap plastic to China, valued at more than $300 million in 2015, totaled just $7.6 million in the first quarter of this year, down 90 percent from a year earlier, Mr. Pickard said. Other countries have stepped in to accept more plastics, but total scrap plastic exports are still down by 40 percent this year, he said.

“There is a significant disruption occurring to U.S. recycling programs,” Mr. Biderman said. “The concern is if this is the new normal.”

Curbside recycling is typically hauled by a private company to a sorting plant, where marketable goods are separated out. Companies or local governments then sell the goods to domestic or overseas processors. Some states and cities prohibit these companies from dumping plastic, paper and cardboard, but some local officials — including in Oregon, Massachusetts and various municipalities in Washington State — have granted waivers so that unmarketable materials can be sent to the landfill.

Recycling companies “used to get paid” by selling off recyclable materials, said Peter Spendelow, a policy analyst for the Department of Environmental Quality in Oregon. “Now they’re paying to have someone take it away.”

In some places, including parts of Idaho, Maine and Pennsylvania, waste managers are continuing to recycle but are passing higher costs on to customers, or are considering doing so.

“There are some states and some markets where mixed paper is at a negative value,” said Brent Bell, vice president of recycling at Waste Management, which handles 10 million tons of recycling per year. “We’ll let our customers make that decision, if they’d like to pay more and continue to recycle or to pay less and have it go to landfill.”

Mr. Spendelow said companies in rural areas, which tend to have higher expenses to get their materials to market, were being hit particularly hard. “They’re literally taking trucks straight to the landfill,” he said.

Will Posegate, the chief operations officer for Garten Services, which processes recycling for a number of counties in Oregon, said his company had tried to stockpile recyclables but eventually used a waiver to dump roughly 900 tons. “The warehouse builds up so much that it’s unsafe,” he said.

In California, officials are concerned that improperly stored bales of paper could become hazards during wildfire season, said Zoe Heller, the policy director for the state’s recycling department.

While China has entirely banned 24 materials, including post-consumer plastic and mixed paper, it has also demanded that other materials, such as cardboard and scrap metal, be only 0.5 percent impure. Even a small amount of food scraps or other rubbish, if undetected, can ruin a batch of recycling.

Some waste managers say that China’s new contamination standards are impossible to meet, while others are trying to clean up their recycling streams by slowing down their processing facilities, limiting the types of materials they accept or trying to better educate customers on what belongs in the recycling bin.

Mr. Bell, the Waste Management executive, said he had seen everything from Christmas lights to animal carcasses to artillery shells come through the company’s recycling facilities. “Most of our facilities get a bowling ball every day or two,” he said.

Some materials can ruin a load, he said, while others pose fire or health hazards and can force facilities to slow their operations and in some cases temporarily shut down. (And a bowling ball could do serious damage to the equipment.) Approximately 25 percent of all recycling picked up by Waste Management is contaminated to the point that it is sent to landfills, Mr. Bell said.

Recyclers have always disposed of some of their materials. But the percentage has climbed as China and other buyers of recyclable material have ratcheted up quality standards.

Most contamination, Mr. Bell said, happens when people try to recycle materials they shouldn’t. Disposable coffee cups — which are usually lined with a thin film that makes them liquid-proof but challenging and expensive to reprocess — are an example. Unwashed plastics can also cause contamination.

“If we don’t get it clean, we’re not going to be able to market it, and if we can’t market it unfortunately it’s going to go to the landfill,” said Mr. Penning, the Rogue spokesman. In March, Rogue told customers to put everything in the trash except for corrugated cardboard, milk jugs, newspapers and tin and aluminum cans, which the company is finding domestic markets for, Mr. Penning said.

Rogue customers who make mistakes might see an “Oops” sticker the next time they check their recycling bin, he said.

In Eugene, similar restrictions have been imposed by the waste company Sanipac. These have not sat well with some residents. “Eugene is a very green city and people love their recycling here,” said Diane Peterson, a resident. “There are a lot of things like yogurt containers that we get all the time, and now we can’t recycle them.”
Leah Geocaris, another Eugene resident, said the change had prompted her to try to consume less overall. “On the one hand, I hate it, because I don’t want stuff to end up in landfill,” she said. “On the other hand, it’s a wake-up call.”

“Recycling is the third R,” she said. “You have to reduce and reuse first.”

Livia Albeck-Ripka, a former James Reston reporting fellow at The Times, is a freelance journalist covering the environment. @livia_ar

Read article here!

Albeck-Ripka, Livia. “Your Recycling Gets Recycled, Right? Maybe, or Maybe Not.” The New York Times, Media 29 May. 2018. Web. 2 Jun. 2018.

“We Made Plastic. We Depend On It. Now We’re Drowning In It.” – By Laura Parker

Planet or Plastic?
June 2018 Issue, National Geographic
Link to full article here

We Made Plastic. We Depend On It. Now We’re Drowning In It.
By Laura Parker, Photographs by Randy Olson

If plastic had been invented when the Pilgrims sailed from Plymouth, England, to North America—and the Mayflower had been stocked with bottled water and plastic-wrapped snacks—their plastic trash would likely still be around, four centuries later.

If the Pilgrims had been like many people today and simply tossed their empty bottles and wrappers over the side, Atlantic waves and sunlight would have worn all that plastic into tiny bits. And those bits might still be floating around the world’s oceans today, sponging up toxins to add to the ones already in them, waiting to be eaten by some hapless fish or oyster, and ultimately perhaps by one of us.

We should give thanks that the Pilgrims didn’t have plastic, I thought recently as I rode a train to Plymouth along England’s south coast. I was on my way to see a man who would help me make sense of the whole mess we’ve made with plastic, especially in the ocean.

Because plastic wasn’t invented until the late 19th century, and production really only took off around 1950, we have a mere 9.2 billion tons of the stuff to deal with. Of that, more than 6.9 billion tons have become waste. And of that waste, a staggering 6.3 billion tons never made it to a recycling bin—a figure that stunned the scientists who crunched the numbers in 2017.

No one knows how much unrecycled plastic waste ends up in the ocean, Earth’s last sink. In 2015, Jenna Jambeck, a University of Georgia engineering professor, caught everyone’s attention with a rough estimate: between 5.3 million and 14 million tons each year just from coastal regions. Most of it isn’t thrown off ships, she and her colleagues say, but is dumped carelessly on land or in rivers, mostly in Asia. It’s then blown or washed into the sea. Imagine five plastic grocery bags stuffed with plastic trash, Jambeck says, sitting on every foot of coastline around the world—that would correspond to about 8.8 million tons, her middle-of-the-road estimate of what the ocean gets from us annually. It’s unclear how long it will take for that plastic to completely biodegrade into its constituent molecules. Estimates range from 450 years to never.

Meanwhile, ocean plastic is estimated to kill millions of marine animals every year. Nearly 700 species, including endangered ones, are known to have been affected by it. Some are harmed visibly—strangled by abandoned fishing nets or discarded six-pack rings. Many more are probably harmed invisibly. Marine species of all sizes, from zooplankton to whales, now eat microplastics, the bits smaller than one-fifth of an inch across. On Hawaii’s Big Island, on a beach that seemingly should have been pristine—no paved road leads to it—I walked ankle-deep through microplastics. They crunched like Rice Krispies under my feet. After that, I could understand why some people see ocean plastic as a looming catastrophe, worth mentioning in the same breath as climate change. At a global summit in Nairobi last December, the head of the United Nations Environment Programme spoke of an “ocean Armageddon.”

And yet there’s a key difference: Ocean plastic is not as complicated as climate change. There are no ocean trash deniers, at least so far. To do something about it, we don’t have to remake our planet’s entire energy system.

“This isn’t a problem where we don’t know what the solution is,” says Ted Siegler, a Vermont resource economist who has spent more than 25 years working with developing nations on garbage. “We know how to pick up garbage. Anyone can do it. We know how to dispose of it. We know how to recycle.” It’s a matter of building the necessary institutions and systems, he says—ideally before the ocean turns, irretrievably and for centuries to come, into a thin soup of plastic.

In Plymouth, under the gray gloom of an English autumn, Richard Thompson waited in a yellow slicker outside Plymouth University’s Coxside Marine Station, at the edge of the harbor. A lean man of 54, with a smooth pate rimmed with gray hair, Thompson was headed for an ordinary career as a marine ecologist in 1993—he was working on a Ph.D. on limpets and microalgae that grow on coastal rocks—when he participated in his first beach cleanup, on the Isle of Man. While other volunteers zoomed in on the plastic bottles and bags and nets, Thompson focused on the small stuff, the tiny particles that lay underfoot, ignored, at the high tide line. At first he wasn’t even sure they were plastic. He had to consult forensic chemists to confirm it.

There was a real mystery to be solved back then, at least in academic circles: Scientists wondered why they weren’t finding even more plastic in the sea. World production has increased exponentially—from 2.3 million tons in 1950, it grew to 162 million in 1993 and to 448 million by 2015—but the amount of plastic drifting on the ocean and washing up on beaches, alarming as it was, didn’t seem to be rising as fast. “That begs the question: Where is it?” Thompson said. “We can’t establish harm to the environment unless we know where it is.”

In the years since his first beach cleanup, Thompson has helped provide the beginnings of an answer: The missing plastic is getting broken into pieces so small they’re hard to see. In a 2004 paper, Thompson coined the term “microplastics” for these small bits, predicting—accurately, as it turned out—that they had “potential for large-scale accumulation” in the ocean.

When we met in Plymouth last fall, Thompson and two of his students had just completed a study that indicated it’s not just waves and sunlight that break down plastic. In lab tests, they’d watched amphipods of the species Orchestia gammarellus—tiny shrimplike crustaceans that are common in European coastal waters—devour pieces of plastic bags and determined they could shred a single bag into 1.75 million microscopic fragments. The little creatures chewed through plastic especially fast, Thompson’s team found, when it was coated with the microbial slime that is their normal food. They spat out or eventually excreted the plastic bits.

Microplastics have been found everywhere in the ocean that people have looked, from sediments on the deepest seafloor to ice floating in the Arctic—which, as it melts over the next decade, could release more than a trillion bits of plastic into the water, according to one estimate. On some beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii, as much as 15 percent of the sand is actually grains of microplastic. Kamilo Point Beach, the one I walked on, catches plastic from the North Pacific gyre, the trashiest of five swirling current systems that transport garbage around the ocean basins and concentrate it in great patches. At Kamilo Point the beach is piled with laundry baskets, bottles, and containers with labels in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, English, and occasionally, Russian. On Henderson Island, an uninhabited coral island in the South Pacific, researchers have found an astonishing volume of plastic from South America, Asia, New Zealand, Russia, and as far away as Scotland.

As Thompson and I talked about all this, a day boat called the Dolphin was carrying us through a light chop in the Sound, off Plymouth. Thompson reeled out a fine-mesh net called a manta trawl, usually used for studying plankton. We were close to the spot where, a few years earlier, other researchers had collected 504 fish of 10 species and given them to Thompson. Dissecting the fish, he was surprised to find microplastics in the guts of more than one-third of them. The finding made international headlines.

After we’d steamed along for a while, Thompson reeled the manta trawl back in. There was a smattering of colored plastic confetti at the bottom. Thompson himself doesn’t worry much about microplastics in his fish and chips—there’s little evidence yet that they pass from the gut of a fish into the flesh we actually eat. (See We Know Plastic Is Harming Marine Life. What About Us?) He worries more about the things that none of us can see—the chemicals added to plastics to give them desirable properties, such as malleability, and the even tinier nanoplastics that microplastics presumably degrade into. Those might pass into the tissues of fish and humans.

“We do know the concentrations of chemicals at the time of manufacture in some cases are very high,” Thompson said. “We don’t know how much additive is left in the plastic by the time it becomes bite-size to a fish.

“Nobody has found nanoparticles in the environment—they’re below the level of detection for analytical equipment. People think they are out there. They have the potential to be sequestered in tissue, and that could be a game changer.”

Thompson is careful not to get ahead of the science on his subject. He’s far from an alarmist—but he’s also convinced that plastic trash in the ocean is far more than an aesthetic problem. “I don’t think we should be waiting for a key finding of whether or not fish are hazardous to eat,” he said. “We have enough evidence to act.”

How did we get here? When did the dark side of the miracle of plastic first show itself? It’s a question that can be asked about many of the marvels of our technological world. Since helping the Allies win World War II—think of nylon parachutes or lightweight airplane parts—plastics have transformed all our lives as few other inventions have, mostly for the better. They’ve eased travel into space and revolutionized medicine. They lighten every car and jumbo jet today, saving fuel—and pollution. In the form of clingy, light-as-air wraps, they extend the life of fresh food. In airbags, incubators, helmets, or simply by delivering clean drinking water to poor people in those now demonized disposable bottles, plastics save lives daily.

In one of their early applications, they saved wildlife. In the mid-1800s, piano keys, billiard balls, combs, and all manner of trinkets were made of a scarce natural material: elephant ivory. With the elephant population at risk and ivory expensive and scarce, a billiards company in New York City offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who could come up with an alternative.

As Susan Freinkel tells the tale in her book, Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, an amateur inventor named John Wesley Hyatt took up the challenge. His new material, celluloid, was made of cellulose, the polymer found in all plants. Hyatt’s company boasted that it would eliminate the need “to ransack the Earth in pursuit of substances which are constantly growing scarcer.” Besides sparing at least some elephants, celluloid also helped change billiards from solely an aristocratic pastime to one that working people play in bars.

That’s a trivial example of a profound revolution ushered in by plastic—an era of material abundance. The revolution accelerated in the early 20th century, once plastics began to be made from the same stuff that was giving us abundant, cheap energy: petroleum. Oil companies had waste gases like ethylene coming out the stacks of their refineries. Chemists discovered they could use those gases as building blocks, or monomers, to create all sorts of novel polymers—polyethylene terephthalate, for example, or PET—instead of working only with polymers that already existed in nature. A world of possibilities opened up. Anything and everything could be made of plastic, and so it was, because plastics were cheap.

They were so cheap, we began to make things we never intended to keep. In 1955 Life magazine celebrated the liberation of the American housewife from drudgery. Under the headline “Throwaway Living,” a photograph showed a family flinging plates, cups, and cutlery into the air. The items would take 40 hours to clean, the text noted—“except that no housewife need bother.” When did plastics start to show their dark side? You might say it was when the junk in that photo hit the ground.

Six decades later, roughly 40 percent of the now more than 448 million tons of plastic produced every year is disposable, much of it used as packaging intended to be discarded within minutes after purchase. Production has grown at such a breakneck pace that virtually half the plastic ever manufactured has been made in the past 15 years. Last year the Coca-Cola Company, perhaps the world’s largest producer of plastic bottles, acknowledged for the first time just how many it makes: 128 billion a year. Nestlé, PepsiCo, and others also churn out torrents of bottles.

The growth of plastic production has far outstripped the ability of waste management to keep up: That’s why the oceans are under assault. “It’s not surprising that we broke the system,” Jambeck says. “That kind of increase would break any system not prepared for it.” In 2013 a group of scientists issued a new assessment of throwaway living. Writing in Nature magazine, they declared that disposable plastic should be classified, not as a housewife’s friend, but as a hazardous material. 

In recent years the surge in production has been driven largely by the expanded use of disposable plastic packaging in the growing economies of Asia—where garbage collection systems may be underdeveloped or nonexistent. In 2010, according to an estimate by Jambeck, half the world’s mismanaged plastic waste was generated by just five Asian countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka.

“Let’s say you recycle 100 percent in all of North America and Europe,” says Ramani Narayan, a chemical engineering professor at Michigan State University who also works in his native India. “You still would not make a dent on the plastics released into the oceans. If you want to do something about this, you have to go there, to these countries, and deal with the mismanaged waste.”

The Pasig River once flowed majestically through downtown Manila, capital of the Philippines, and emptied into pristine Manila Bay. It was a treasured waterway and civic point of pride. It’s now listed among the top 10 rivers in the world that convey plastic waste to the sea. As many as 72,000 tons flow downstream each year, mostly during the monsoon. In 1990 the Pasig was declared biologically dead.

The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, established in 1999, is working to clean up the river, with some signs of success. Jose Antonio Goitia, the commission’s executive director, says he is optimistic that the Pasig could be restored someday, although he acknowledges he has no easy way of doing that. “Maybe the best thing to do is ban plastic bags,” he says.

The remaining challenges are clearly visible every day. The river is fed by 51 tributaries, some of them overflowing with plastic waste from squatter settlements that cantilever precariously over creek banks. A tributary near Chinatown, where rickety shanties are wedged between modern buildings, is so choked with plastic debris you can walk across it, forgoing the footbridge. Manila Bay’s beaches, once recreational respites for greater Manila’s 13 million residents, are littered with garbage, much of it plastic. Last fall Break Free From Plastic, a coalition including Greenpeace and other groups, cleaned a beach on Freedom Island, which is advertised as an ecotourism district; volunteers picked up 54,260 pieces of plastic, from shoes to food containers. By the time I visited a few weeks later, the beach was littered again with bottles, wrappers, and shopping bags.

The scene in Manila is typical of large, overcrowded urban centers across Asia. The Philippines is a densely populated nation of 105 million people that is still struggling with the most basic public health issues, including waterborne diseases such as typhoid and bacterial diarrhea. It’s no surprise that it has trouble managing the explosion of plastic garbage. Manila has a metropolitan garbage collection system that stretches across 17 separate local governments—a source of chaos and inefficiency. In 2004 the region was already running out of land to safely dump garbage. The shortage of landfill space, and thus the crisis, continues today.

A small part of the slack is taken up by Manila’s informal recycling industry, which consists of thousands of waste pickers. Armando Siena, 34, is one of them. He and his wife, Angie, 31, have lived their entire lives surrounded by trash. They were born on Smokey Mountain, an internationally notorious dump that was officially closed in the 1990s. They now live with their three children near Manila’s waterfront in a one-room flat lit by a single bulb, furnished with a pair of plastic chairs, and lacking plumbing, bedding, or refrigeration. The flat is in a garbage-filled slum named Aroma, next to another slum named Happyland.

Every day Siena rides a rickety bicycle beyond Aroma’s boundaries, scanning the streets for recyclable rubbish that he can stuff into his sidecar. Plastic soup containers are high-value finds, paying 20 pesos (38 cents) a kilogram. Siena sorts and sells his load to a junk shop owned by his uncle, who trucks the waste to recycling plants on the outskirts of Manila.

Waste pickers like Siena are part of the solution, some activists argue; they just need a living wage. In the Baseco waterfront slum in Manila, a tiny recycling shop operated by the Plastic Bank of Vancouver, British Columbia, pays a premium for bottles and hard plastic collected by waste pickers. It then sells that plastic at a higher price to multinationals, which market their recycled products as socially responsible.

Siegler, the Vermont economist, has worked in enough countries and run enough numbers to be skeptical of such schemes. “There is not enough value in plastics to make that work,” he says. “It’s cheaper to fund a solid waste management system than to subsidize collecting plastic.”

The waste that clogs Manila’s beaches and waterways reinforces Siegler’s point. Much of it consists of sachets—tear-off packets that once held a single serving of shampoo, toothpaste, coffee, condiments, or other products. They are sold by the millions to poor people like Siena and his family, who can’t afford to buy more than one serving at a time. Sachets blow around Manila like leaves falling from trees. They’re not recyclable, so no waste picker will retrieve them. Crispian Lao, a member of the National Solid Waste Management Commission, says, “This segment of packaging is growing, and it has become a real challenge for solid waste management.” 

When Greenpeace cleaned the Freedom Island beach, it posted a tally of the brand names of the sachets its volunteers had collected. Nestlé ranked first, Unilever second. Litterbugs aren’t the only ones at fault, says Greenpeace’s Abigail Aguilar: “We believe that the ones producing and promoting the use of single-use plastics have a major role in the whole problem.” A Unilever spokeswoman in Manila told me the company is developing a recyclable sachet.

After Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared from radar screens in March 2014 while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, the search for it extended from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean. It captivated a global audience for weeks. No sign of the wreckage appeared. On several occasions, when satellite images revealed collections of objects floating on the sea surface, hopes soared that they would turn out to be aircraft parts. They weren’t. It was all trash—pieces of broken shipping containers, abandoned fishing gear, and of course, plastic shopping bags.

Kathleen Dohan, a scientist and the president of Earth and Space Research in Seattle, saw opportunity in the horror: The images from space were pushing a problem into view that had long been neglected. “This is the first time the whole world is watching,” she told me at the time. “It’s a good time for people to understand that our oceans are garbage dumps.” Dohan sensed a tipping point in public awareness—and the events since suggest she may have been right.

The most heartening thing about the plastic waste problem is the recent explosion of attention to it, and even of serious, if scattered, efforts to address it. A partial list of the good news since 2014 would include, in no particular order: Kenya joined a growing list of nations that have banned plastic bags, imposing steep fines and jail time on violators. France said it would ban plastic plates and cups by 2020. Bans on plastic microbeads in cosmetics (they’re exfoliants) take effect this year in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and four other countries. The industry is phasing them out.

Corporations are responding to public opinion. Coca-Cola, which also produces Dasani water, announced a goal to “collect and recycle the equivalent of” 100 percent of its packaging by 2030. It and other multinationals, including PepsiCo, Amcor, and Unilever, have pledged to convert to 100 percent reusable, recyclable, or compostable packaging by 2025. And Johnson & Johnson is switching from plastic back to paper stems on its cotton swabs.

Individuals are making a difference too. Ellen MacArthur, a British yachtswoman, has created a foundation to promote the vision of a “circular economy,” in which all materials, including plastics, are designed to be reused or recycled, not dumped. Actor Adrian Grenier has lent his celebrity to the campaign against the plastic drinking straw. And Boyan Slat, 23, from the Netherlands, is charging ahead with his teenage vow to clean up the largest garbage patch in the North Pacific. His organization has raised more than $30 million to construct an ocean-sweeping machine that is still under development.

All of these measures help at some level—even beach cleanups, futile as they sometimes seem. A beach cleanup hooked Richard Thompson on the plastic problem a quarter century ago. But the real solution, he now thinks, is to stop plastic from entering the ocean in the first place—and then to rethink our whole approach to the amazing stuff. “We’ve done a lot of work making sure plastic does its job, but very little amount of work on what happens to that product at the end of its lifetime,” he says. “I’m not saying plastics are the enemy, but there is a lot the industry can do to help solve the problem.”

There are two fundamental ways industry can help, if it wants or is forced to. First, along with academic scientists such as Jambeck, it can design new plastics and new plastic products that are either biodegradable or more recyclable (see You Can Help Turn the Tide on Plastic. Here’s How.). New materials and more recycling, along with simply avoiding unnecessary uses of the stuff, are the long-term solutions to the plastic waste problem. But the fastest way to make a big difference, Siegler says, is low tech. It’s more garbage trucks and landfills.

“Everyone wants a sexy answer,” he says. “The reality is, we need to just collect the trash. Most countries that I work in, you can’t even get it off the street. We need garbage trucks and help institutionalizing the fact that this waste needs to be collected on a regular basis and landfilled, recycled, or burned so that it doesn’t end up going all over the place.”

That’s the second way industry could help: It could pony up. Siegler has proposed a worldwide tax of a penny on every pound of plastic resin manufactured. The tax would raise roughly six billion dollars a year that could be used to finance garbage collection systems in developing nations. The idea never caught on. In the fall of 2017, though, a group of scientists revived the concept of a global fund. The group called for an international agreement patterned after the Paris climate accord.

At the Nairobi meeting in December, 193 nations, including the U.S., actually passed one. The United Nations Clean Seas agreement doesn’t impose a tax on plastic. It’s nonbinding and toothless. It’s really just a declaration of a good intention—the intention to end ocean plastic pollution. In that way it’s less like the Paris Agreement and more like the Rio de Janeiro treaty, in which the world pledged to combat dangerous climate change—back in 1992. Norway’s environment minister, Vidar Helgesen, called this new agreement a strong first step.

Written by Laura Parker, Photographs by Randy Olson. View HERE for article. This entire issue offers incredible imagery, more information with charts, and links to relevant articles. Subscribe to National Geographic here.

Parker, Laura. “We Made Plastic. We Depend on it. Now we’re drowning in it.” National Geographic, Media, Jun. 2018. Web. 2 Jun. 2018.

TIPA – 17 May 2018

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“Tipa innovates compostable solutions to flexible packaging’s sustainability problem” – By Laxmi Haigh

17 May 2018 — Israeli-based company Tipa asked, what if flexible packaging could behave just like organic material? Amid large-scale headlines around plastic, such as Nestle committing to 100 percent renewable packaging by 2025 and major UK players forming the UK Plastics Pact, this question has become even more relevant. FoodIngredientsFirst speaks to Daphna Nissenbaum, Founder of Tipa, who deliver fully compostable flexible packaging for the food industry.

Although bio-materials have been around for more than 20 years, they have not entirely delivered on the promise of bringing the same packaging convenience as conventional plastic, as well as returning 100 percent back to nature, with no harmful impact.

Tipa’s proprietary, patent-protected technology combines different complex blends of compostable polymers to achieve its wide range of packaging solutions. Commonly, 95 percent of flexible packaging options cannot be recycled, Tipa report. However, Tipa’s approach has brought a fully compostable alternative to the market, inlcuding laminates and labels. In this case, Nissenbaum explains, compostable was the most ecological route to take over recyclable.

Compostable vs. Recyclable
Essentially, compostable materials can take a lot longer to decompose and convert to new energy uses, for example as garden fertilizers, and they do not eliminate the need for virgin plastic material. They are also not usually composed from re-used materials but are made from virgin materials. This often holds up the belief that recycling may be the more sustainable option.

However, Nissenbaum differentiates between the need for recyclable and compostable materials on the marketplace: “The food industry is the largest consumer of packaging. Therefore we first have to make sure all food packaging are reusable, recyclable or compostable.”

“Recycling is the best alternative for rigid, single polymer-based applications. However, compostable should be the route for all non-recyclable solutions. This is the case with flexible packaging, which is the second largest packaging segment (after rigid). Other best fit applications for compostable packaging include small formats and packaging contaminated with food (as noted by the Ellen MacAruther foundation in their report; Catalyzing Action).”

Regarding the food industry, recycling materials, especially flexible packaging, for use in food packaging is limited due to high purity requirements. PET, on the other hand, has a process that has been deemed safe for use in the food and beverage industry. The same cannot be said to flexible packaging.

“Today too many packaging formats like flexible packaging are simply not recyclable and have no effective/ecological end-of-life solution. While governments worldwide have begun banning or heavily restricting the usage of plastic, some counties like France, Italy and India are already making it mandatory for the industry to use only compostable packaging for certain applications,” says Nissenbaum.

“Meanwhile 11 global companies like Unilever, Mars, and Walmart have already publicly declared they will have all their packaging ‘reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025’. Therefore, compostable packaging is not just a chic trend but a true ecological solution to some of the direst problems of our plastic consumer society.”

Compostable challenges
R&D challenges were prominent in creating a compostable flexible plastic option. Working with compostable polymers offer a very limited set of properties, and therefore, manipulations were necessary to make them emulate the properties of plastic.

“Unlike conventional plastic polymers, which have quite robust and versatile properties and are very easy to process and fit for packaging applications, compostable polymers are quite delicate and limited in their ‘inherent’ properties such as transparency, flexibility, printability, ease of sealing, moisture barrier to protect the food on the shelf, etc.,” says Nissenbaum.

Regarding region growth, Nissenbaum states that Europe is by far the most advanced in adopting ecological packaging, including compostable, but Asia will soon follow. Asia is predicted to begin placing heavy regulations on plastic waste, and this will create “abundant opportunities for compostable packaging solutions in the region.”

Packaging is a certainty that will continue to be necessary for modern life, from protecting food to protecting merchandise. Concerning non-food applications, Nissenbaum has strong views on which sectors require attention: “As for non-food applications we mainly believe e-commerce packaging need to be also addressed as this segment is growing incredibly fast while much of the packaging used for e-commerce is non-recyclable. For example, most e-commerce packaging will include plastic bags and sometimes also a plastic envelope. These do not get recycled today and create a tremendous waste problem. For us, the answer is compostable packaging to replace these non-recyclable plastic bags.”

Tipa is providing a strong response to the problems of “our plastic consumer society,” putting on the market a fully compostable material that can match the packaging functionality requirements of food, namely: moisture barriers, flexibility and ease of resealing. Innova Market Insights data reflects the growing awareness around biodegradable/compostable packaging in new F&B launches, noting an increase of CAGR of +41 percent in the last five years.

“As long as we live in a consumer society, packaging will be absolutely essential. We will need though to develop packaging materials/formats and concepts in order to assure packaging have no negative effect on the environment,” Nissenbaum concludes.

By Laxmi Haigh   (Link to Article)

“Mission-Based YogaLyte Launches First Compostable Stick Packs” – By Merav Koren

Mission-Based YogaLyte Launches First Compostable Stick Packs By Merav Koren

Tipa Blog Post November 17, 2017

“Our electrolytes restore and revitalize the body before or after strenuous activity, such as hot yoga, and we’re launching the first compostable stick pack,” Louise Sanseau, founder of YogaLyte, said proudly.

“As a mission-based company, we are committed to offering high quality, pure, and ethically sourced supplements,” she continued. “We are committed to serving the planet and eliminating our waste from contaminating our oceans and land. Our packaging is fully compostable so that at its end of life, there will be zero waste.”

Stick pack first

“I haven’t seen compostable stick packs anywhere,” Louise said. “We had to invent or figure out how to create that technology with TIPA to make the stick packs, which was quite fun once we found the co-packer that could integrate the material into their machine!”

“Right now, we have two products, Hydrate and Coconut. Hydrate is our balanced electrolyte powder, with no extra ingredients added. It is simple, effective, and more performance-based than our 100% organic, botanical Coconut product,” Louise elaborated. “Hot Yoga is an extreme environment. The room is 105 degrees Fahrenheit and 50% humidity. Students sweat a lot and sometimes they become dehydrated. At my hot yoga studio, Inversion Yoga located in Jackson Hole WY, we carry electrolytes to uphold safety in our classes and we give them away all the time to students.”

“We got into the supplement industry because we didn’t like our electrolyte options. We wanted a basic, simple, and pure electrolyte powder and we wanted to know where the ingredients came from,” Louise continued. “Once we figured out our sourcing and ingredients, we were stuck on the packaging. The abhorrent amount of waste we consume with our flexible packaged goods became an issue from which we could not look away. Stick packs are wonderful for single use servings in hot yoga or for trail running, cycling, skiing, climbing, or traveling.  In Jackson Hole, WY, at high elevation, 6,237’, while performing extreme sports, we often consume electrolytes to help stay hydrated. After 3 years of exploration and innovation, we are proud to be working with TIPA and offering a compostable stick pack with pure electrolytes to those who want to decrease their waste and increase their performance.”

Compostable packaging is necessary

“We can only be as happy as our environment and our community,” said Louise passionately. “We must take care of both. The technology now exists to eliminate plastic waste. It’s unjustifiable that there are islands of waste expanding in our oceans. We can do better. We’re in it to change the packaging industry, to serve the planet and do good along the entire production path.”

“Compostable packaging is as close as we can come to that. It is currently the best option for flexible packaged goods,” she said, adding, “It would be wonderful if every city had a municipal composter. Right now, they don’t; but, hopefully, these will come. We compost at home, at the studio, and at the office. Hopefully, the technology will develop so that in the future backyard composting won’t take as long for compostable packaging.”

Composting at home and at work

“Getting into the Natural Food Consumer Packaged Goods industry changed the way I shop, cook, think about waste, and live. I now take responsibility for the waste I create,” said Louise. “I only purchase ingredients from the bulk bins at the grocery store and I bring my own jars and bags. I do not purchase anything that I cannot recycle, compost, or reuse for a long time.”

“At home, I have a compost pile in my backyard. At work, we started a backyard barrel roll compost,” she continued. The compost will be put to good use. “There’s a plot of land that we’re going to be able to do a little gardening on this spring. We’re planning to turn our compost soil into that for a community garden,” Louise explained.

Meeting TIPA

“At the first Expo, I went to … I guess it was 2015 Expo West, there was this huge buzz in the show about compostable, Louise recalled. “I was like, ‘Great, I can get into this field because there’s this option for my packaging.’ I was really inspired by the discussions and, so I went back to Expo West last year, specifically looking for packaging for YogaLyte. That’s when I found Elz Hotam, vice president sales for TIPA.”

“I really like the company,” said Louise. “I think that companies like TIPA are doing everything they can to be as sustainable as they can, in an environment when there’s not yet a consumer demand for better and more sustainable products across the board.”

“We’re only aligning with people that are intrinsically walking the walk and talking the talk.,” Louise concluded. “I’m super excited that TIPA seems to be super green.”

By Merav Koren
Tipa Blog Post November 17, 2017