|River Walk view from the|
In simplistic terms biopolymers are plant-based derived polymers. Unlike traditional plastics made from oil or natural gas, biopolymers originate from starch, sugarcane and other renewable based resources. Polylactic acid (or PLA). is an example of a commonly used biopolymer. A key difference with biopolymers versus traditional plastics is their renewable backbone and the additional end of life options, such as recycling, composting, waste to energy, anaerobic digestion and others.
In a foodservice application leading role, PLA emerges as cold beverage cups (draft beer cups at "green festivals"), cutlery and hot cup lids. In its supporting role, PLA is the film protection on paper products to prevent liquid absorption (coffee cups, nacho trays at "green stadiums"). PLA resin-based applications extend well beyond foodservice including electronics, packaging (foam and films), durable (or injection molded based), fibers & non-woven’s and many other end uses. For this article, foodservice use is the focus.
|Danielle Marks of Smithers &|
John Baldus @ opening reception
Ei attended the pre-conference Anaerobic Digestion Forum moderated by conference chair John Baldus, Sustainable Manufacturing Specialist at the Wisconsin State Energy Office. Presenters and attendees traveled the globe to attend the forum. With an intimate crowd, the sessions remained casual with lively dialogue interspersed among the presentations and closing panel discussion.
|A.D. Forum Presenters|
On the final conference day Ei Advisory Council member Brenda Platt, Institute for Local Self-Reliance co-director, moderated an impressive panel, Innovative management strategies for End of Life. In her opening remarks, Brenda provided an impressive recap of prior conference sessions and how they pertain to the biopolymer end of life.
|End of Life Panel|
Dick Lilly - business area manager for waste prevention and product stewardship, Seattle Public Utilities Solid Waste Division- was a star in his presentation on the impact Seattle's regulations makes on industry and consumer behavior. The formal session name says it all: Seattle's Single-Use Food Service Packaging Law - How one city's regulations impacted the biopolymers industry.
|Dick Lily @ podium|
While Seattle opted for regulations to capture food waste for composting, Atlanta used contract provisions. The Atlanta Airport compostable packaging requirements are referenced earlier in the post. Ei founder Holly Elmore and Ei Partner Steve Davies of NatureWorks co-presented in the Biopolymers Role in Zero Waste Programs session.
Holly focused on Ei's foundation, successes and role as a creator and the driving force in initiative development:
Ei determines what could be done that is not being done and gets it done. Ei brings the possible out of impossible.
|Brenda & Steve @ reception|
Richard Gertman, principal at For Sustainability Too, finished the formal presentations with a detailed report on a California sponsored pilot on the recovery of PLA products through optical sorting. The panel-style program ended with a lively question | answer session.
For a pictorial recap of the conference, receptions and San Antonio River Walk, visit the Ei FB album, 10-12 Biopolymers Conference in San Antonio.
Biopolymer End of Life - or is it? When composted, biopolymers may continue in a Perpetual Life Cycle System where it decomposes into nutrients for healthy soil and plants that serve as the basis for PLA resin.
|Ei Team tour group - Doug is on left|
Fun and educational, the Biopolymers Conference was the perfect energy for effecting the necessary change in our community and corporate culture. Ei is honored to serve as a conference presenter and media partner.