The lobbies (which are a positive and not a negative factor in modern economies) today strive to produce a lot of paper and a lot of traditional plastic, focusing on recycling.
I don’t think it’s right for the environment.
I am 52 years old and I still remember when in 1980 I actively participated in the cutting down of many hectares of poplars in my family’s land.
It is a very common type of cultivation in Italy and is mainly used for the cellulose industry.
They were very tall trees, more than 20 meters with stems of a large diameter.
It was a great harvest.
I remember it as if it were today.
Then cereal, sugarbeet and corn cultivations were added to that land and finally alfalfa to raise cattle.
Then we planted trees again and to be able to use them 30 years have passed and perhaps another 10 will pass.
In the meantime, the paper business has profoundly changed and the paper mills in Italy and in many areas of Europe have been closed.
All delocalized to the East.
A constantly changing and growing business, but not for everyone.
Paper has been with us for more than 1000 years.
The Missal book of Silos is the first book on paper (and not parchment).
Since then, the production processes have evolved and hve been industrialized over the last 200 years.
We always talk about fibers that require a lot of energy to be collected, transformed and used.
Old chemistry is still the main factor and certainly for most of the productions it is not a “green” chemistry.
In fact, paper must be bleached and washed.
Then pressed and dried.
A problematic production cycle with trees that do not have a cultivation cycle of one year, but of many decades and that are removed from our environment with unimaginable damage.
Asia is the first producer in the world with China reaching 100 million tons per year.
Europe produces a total of 90 million tons per year and has an impact of about 20% on world production of about 500 million tons of paper.
Paper production is on the rise and it is thought that in 2030 we can reach 1 billion tons of paper produced every year with an incredible global deforestation.
Traditional plastic has also been growing continuously over the last 50 years and today it is estimated to be 350 million tons / year with a dizzying increase in the next few years, breaking through 1 billion tons.
These numbers scare everyone, except those who trade them.
Italy, for example, is 1/3 covered with forests, and I would never have imagined it.
Until 50 years ago it was covered by 2/3 of forests.
50 years ago, in the 1970s, paper was used to pack everything and straw paper, yellow in color and obtained from wheat straw, was also used for food.
There was no great distribution, there was no packaging, blister packs, shopping bags.
It was a world that was filling up with plastic to replace paper.
Today, after 50 years, paper wants to regain its space, return to our home and replace plastic.
I hope most people don’t think it’s that easy to replace plastic, especially with paper.
Today in supermarkets we see paper boxes containing apples, kiwis and other fruit that break or open very easily.
While the plastic containers, transparent and very sturdy, ergonomically wrap any fruit and even make it appear more beautiful.
There is no game.
Plastic wins. wins so much that now there is more plastic than fruit in supermarkets.
We can’t go on like this.
Yet since covid-19 came into play, biopolymers have gone into the background, crushed by the need to use plastic, a lot and immediately and then, incredibly, paper, cardboard and laminates have reappeared (which is a way to make paper even more polluting).
Take for example the straws for drinking soft drinks.
Replaced by paper.
Yes, but full of glue and if the drink is carbonated they fall apart in no time.
Many attempts at reusable straws several times, such as those made of metal.
Too bad that if a child trips or plays, a straw can be put in his eye with serious consequences.
Plastic remains the best possible product, rigid and flexible enough, but unfortunately highly polluting.
The straw is just a small example to better understand that laws, lobbies and commercial strategies can try any path, but in the end it is the product and the customer who decide what to do and who to reward.
The best solution would be to use biopolymers and paper together.
All strictly natural and biodegradable.
Unity is strength.
This is the way to go, but today those who make traditional plastics think they can “cheat” everyone with the word recycling (an addition of further pollution without any nature-friendly solution, (Plastic Recycling Generate High Volumes of Hazardous Waste) those who “push” paper try to solve all the problems on their own, without understanding that a little water is enough to ruin every project and finally the biopolymer companies are few, all enemies of each other without realizing that they are playing the other’s game.
The loser is the environment and mankind.
We waste time and kill our land more and more every day.
Not to mention the effective announcements.
The president of the EU commission, Ursula Von der Leyen (Why plant 3 billion additional trees?) stated that a pillar of the green new deal will be to plant 3 billion trees by 2030
That’s about 330 million trees a year and roughly 1 million trees a day.
A lot of time has already passed since it was announced and I am not aware if this project has begun, which is unattainable.
First of all, there are no seedlings to sow and there is also a complete lack of the infrastructure to care for, manage and enhance them.
Meanwhile, paper is being consumed and used more and more.
All the lobbies strive for this.
Then the financial report we will take in 2030 will be very different.
Not just 3 billion trees!
There will be far fewer than now.
For this reason we must never give up but cry out that collaboration is needed.
Those who make paper must collaborate with those who make biopolymers to replace polluting plastic and improve the environment and NOT wage war.
Then obviously the biopolymers must be “real” biopolymers and not “fake” biopolymers.
The best and most performing are certainly the Polidroxyalkanoates and many projects have been implemented and validated in the EU.
They only need to be industrialized and sold.
Sustainability is appreciated if product prices do not rise.
All consumers are convinced of the ecological change but are not willing to spend more.
High quality at low prices.
Here, unfortunately, traditional plastics could still win, which undoubtedly beats biopolymers (with still high costs) and paper (with low performance).
But traditional plastic is a super pollutant and it is even more if we consider its recovery and recycling.
For large-scale distribution, the solution is to combine cutting-edge technologies for the production of cellulose with the best biopolymers on the market.
If today we want to plant our tree in the garden and watch it grow, we must use paper better and use biopolymers more, forgetting polluting plastic forever.
So we will be able to invite the president of the EU commission into our garden and show her the tree we planted, reminding her that many months ago she promised everyone to plant at least the other 2,999,999,999.
Postings in this Column
- Have You Ever Planted a Tree? Well, While You Wait For It to Grow, Use Biopolymers Too
- The Sea Starts from your Home
- The Current Situation of Bio-on
- The Expansion of Bio-on
- The Start Up of Bio-on
- New Columnist on Bioplastics News
The opinions expressed here by Marco Astorri and other columnists are their own, not those of Bioplasticsnews.com.