eco-straw-report

FACTS ABOUT THE ECO-STRAW

Thanks for the interest in our product.

There is always going to be many different points of view, people with opinions, some well-informed, some just up for an argument.

I have provided the attachments which hold most of the details (we have tried to condense where possible, so we are providing details from various sources the background and testing processes of our product development)

There is a lot of information to absorb, and there are a lot of passionate people out there looking for a perfect solution to an Eco Friendly Straw, which is great!!

From our research, and now investment in this product, we believe the Oxo-Biodegradable straw is the best solution, the best composition we feel for an eco-friendly straw option outside of the standard PP straw in Australia.

 

As you know we sell the standard PP straw, and have done since 1989 in Australia.

The previous owner of the company tried an Eco-Friendly Straw when the Oxo/Bio technology was first released almost 6 years ago, but unfortunately the project failed with a lot of the straws breaking down prior to being sold or getting past their “Useful Life”

Possible the timing was not right aswell, and his stock control was not on point, and not enough education available about the product.

I believe as time has gone on, further research has been done, we have hopefully fine-tuned the formula to make an Eco Straw that suits the Australian Market from a number of points of view.

 

1/ Environmental Impact

2/ Shelf Life and Usability and Food Safe

3/ Economics

 

1/ Environmental Impact – The most important consideration of course is the environmental impact of this product.

If you find attached an independent article from the Oxo-Biodegradable Plastics Association, a NON-PROFIT organisation from London, which have provided from my point of view an easy to read document around some of the standards and how they relate to Oxo-Biodegradable Plastics.

 

I will work through your below questions asked by your potential customers on the Bartender Exchange forum, using the attached two documents which we have founded our decision to go with an Oxo-Biodegradable Straw. I have Highlighted and Underlined the important points we have recognised in our endeavours and research. – see below

 

Our Oxo-Bio Straws have been tested according to

American Standard ASTM D6954-04 – “Standard Guide for Plastics that Degrade in the Environment by a Combination of Oxidation and Biodegradation”

 

These Standards measure:

  • Tier 1 – Degradability
  • Tier 2 – Biodegradability
  • Tier 3 – Eco-toxicity

 

See attached “Eco-straw Reports” attachment

 

IRRELEVANT STANDARDS (our opinion)

(See below under “Tests for Compostable Plastic”

  • EN 13432 (except for eco-toxicity test)
  • ASTM D6400 (except for eco-toxicity test) D5338, 6002;
  • AUSTRALIAN 4736
  • ISO 17088

 

“These are all standards for biodegradation in the special conditions found in industrial composting. They require short timescales and rapid CO2 emissions

The standards for degradation in anaerobic conditions are also irrelevant, because oxo-biodegradation requires oxygen.

Oxo-biodegradable plastic products are bio-assimilated in the same way as nature’s wastes after their molecular weight has reduced to 40,000 Daltons or less.

There are two types of Standards – Standard Guides and Standard Specifications ASTM 6954 is an acknowledged and respected Standard Guide for performing laboratory tests on oxo-biodegradable plastic. It has been developed and published by ASTM International – the American standards organisation,

ASTM D 6954 and BS 8472 have no less than six pass/fail criteria. 1 – for the abiotic phase of the test (6.3 – 5% e-o-b and 5,000DA) 2 – the tests for metal content and other elements (6.9.6), 3 – Gel content (6.6.1), 4 – Ecotoxicity (6.9.6 -6.9.10), 5 – PH value (6.9.6) and 6 – for the biodegradation phase, (for unless 60 % of the organic carbon is converted to carbon dioxide the test cannot be considered completed and has therefore failed)

The tests performed according to ASTM D6954-04 tell industry and consumers what they need to know – namely whether the plastic is (a) degradable (b) biodegradable and (c) non eco-toxic. It is not necessary to refer to a Standard Specification unless it is desired to use the material for a particular purpose such as composting for which a specification is available. Note 3 to ASTM D6954-04 provides that if “composting” is the designated disposal route, ASTM D6400 should be used.” or AS4736

 

Our straws are not for an Industrial Composting Application – Use PLA or Paper Straws if you wish to Compost

 

“Conditions in the laboratory are designed to simulate so far as possible conditions in the real world, but have to be accelerated in order that tests may be done in a reasonable time and at reasonable cost. This does not invalidate the results in relation to real-world conditions.

There is no requirement in ASTM D6954-04 for the plastic to be converted to C02 in 180 days because, while timescale is critical in an industrial composting process, it is not critical for biodegradation in the environment. Timescale in the natural environment depends on the amount of heat, light, and stress to which the material is subjected. Nature’s wastes such as leaves twigs and straw may take ten years or more to biodegrade, but oxo-bio plastics will biodegrade more quickly than that, and much more quickly than ordinary plastic.

 

In oxo-biodegradable plastics there are anti-oxidants mixed with the resins, and they must be consumed before degradation starts. People sometimes do not understand this sequence. An induction period must therefore elapse before degradation starts, due to the presence of the anti-oxidants, which have been included to give the product a pre-determined service-life.

Packaging made from oxo-biodegradable plastic complies with paras. 1, 2 3(a), (b) and (d) of Annex II of the European Parliament and Council Directive 94/62/EC (as amended) on Packaging and Packaging Waste. This Annex specifies the essential requirements for the composition and the reusable and recoverable, including recyclable, nature of packaging.

Oxo-biodegradable plastic satisfies para. 3(a) because it can be recycled. It satisfies para. 3(b) because it can be incinerated. It satisfies para. 3(d) because it is capable of undergoing physical, chemical, thermal or biological decomposition such that most of the finished compost ultimately decomposes into carbon dioxide, biomass and water. It can even satisfy para. 3(c) if composted in an “in-vessel” process.2

2 EU law does not require compliance with EN13432 even for compostable plastics

 

STANDARDS FOR COMPOSTABLE PLASTICS

Biodegradation in the environment is NOT the same thing as composting.

Composting is an artificial process operated to a much shorter timescale than the processes of nature. Standards (such as ASTM D6400, D6868; EN13432, and Australian Standard 4736 see below) designed for compostable plastic are not therefore appropriate for plastic which is designed to self-destruct if it gets into the environment.

EN13432, ASTM D6400, D6868, ISO 14855, 17088 and Australian Standard 4736-06 are designed for compostable plastic and are NOT appropriate for plastic which is designed to degrade then biodegrade if it gets into the open environment.

 

We at Austraw – believe it is more important to have a straw that degrades in an Open Environment – so our beaches, oceans, waterways and landfill have a product that will degrade – not sit there for 30 years or more like a normal PP straw.

 

“Composting is an artificial process operated according to a much shorter timescale than the processes of nature, and EN13432 itself says that is not appropriate for waste which may end up in the environment through uncontrolled means.

The requirement in EN13432 and similar standards for 90% conversion to CO2 gas within 180 days is not useful even for composting, because it contributes to climate change instead of contributing to the improvement of the soil. “Compostable” plastic, 90% of which has been converted to CO2 gas, is therefore virtually useless in compost. Nature’s lignocellulosic wastes, such as leaves and straw do not behave in this way.

“Compostable” plastic is compliant with EN13432 and similar standards precisely because it emits CO2 (a greenhouse gas) at a high rate.

The Note to paragraph 5 of EN 13432 says: “It is important to recognise that it is not necessary that biodegradation of packaging material or packaging be fully completed by the end of biological treatment in technical plants but that it can subsequently be completed during the use of the compost produced.” This is what oxo-biodegradable plastic does, and it is consistent with the behaviour of nature’s waste products such as twigs, leaves and straw, which take years to biodegrade fully. Oxo-biodegradable plastics will biodegrade much more quickly than these natural materials.

 

If a leaf were subjected to the CO2 emission tests included in EN13432 it would not pass! Leaves are not of course required to pass any such test, but it shows how artificial the standard is.

Conversion of organic materials to CO2 at a rapid rate during the composting process is not “recovery” as required3 by the European Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste (94/62/EC as amended),4 and should not really be part of a standard for composting. Nature’s lignocellulosic wastes do not behave in this way, and if they did they would have little value as soil improvers and fertilisers, having lost most of their carbon.

The EU Directive does NOT require that when a packaging product is marketed as “degradable” or “compostable” conformity with the Directive must be assessed by reference to EN13432. The Directive5 provides that conformity with its essential requirements may be presumed if EN 13432 is complied with, but it does not exclude proof of conformity by other evidence. Indeed Annex Z of EN13432 itself says that it provides only one means of conforming with the essential requirements.

 

Q&A

 

Philippa Kennedy Why don’t these eco-straws comply with the AS 4736 Australian standard ?Please read above

 

Bobby Carey Are they actually biodegradable in any and all landfill? Or do they have to degrade under certain circumstances?

Oxo-biodegradable straws degrade in a two stage process – 1/in the presence of Oxygen – so if straws end up in an open environment like our waterways, beaches, oceans, gutters – the presence of oxygen with begin a degradation – straws will generally float in the ocean or waterways – so will hopefully be present to oxygen on the water surface 2/ the straws molecular structure is changed with the additive making it more open or porous so it can be degraded also through microbiological means – eg landfill

“Reverte products initially catalyse the oxo-degradation of the polymer chains and then promote the

growth of microbial colonies to expedite the second biodegradation stage.”

 

Catherine Harvey Plastic by nature isn’t bio-degradable, it just breaks down into smaller plastic particles that are just as detrimental, some say more, to the environment.

Our straws are tested to standards

American Standard ASTM D6954-04 – “Standard Guide for Plastics that Degrade in the Environment by a Combination of Oxidation and Biodegradation”

 

These Standards measure:

  • Tier 1 – Degradability
  • Tier 2 – Biodegradability
  • Tier 3 – Eco-toxicity

 

See attached “Eco-straw Reports” attachment

 

Matt Donnelly My concerns lie with: aren’t we trying to reduce our carbon footprint? These straws just end up being carbon dioxide anyway. And they meet US standard but why don’t they meet Australian standard?

The Australian Standard AS4736 is for compostable plastics which we find is irrellavant unless it is in a controlled “industrial compostable environment”– please read above

 

Vivian Haviland They’re oxo-degradable so they need the presence of oxygen to decompose. Doesn’t work very well in landfills where the majority will end up. Great solution for those that end up in the ocean though!

Yes they will also decompose in Landfill as the second stage to an oxo-biodegradable straw is that the straws molecular structure is changed with the additive making it more open or porous so it can be degraded also through microbiological means – eg landfill

For an open environment such as oceans and waterways an oxo-biodegradable straw is the best choice – read more above

 

Warren Wu Moonee Valley City Council composts green bins waste, which would work to breakdown this product.

Yeah sure, reducing our waste is the best solution, but instead of having a go at these guys, maybe we could let our local councils know we want better waste management practices.

Warren – I cant agree more – we can keep trying to invent more eco-friendly products everyday, but it takes responsible humans to not litter in the first place. A lot of eco friendly products meeting compostable standards do not end up in a compost environment, they end up on the sides of our roads, in our waterways – humans need to dispose of their waste properly in the first place – then this planet may have half a chance, our eco-straws are designed for those irresponsible humans – to hopefully make some difference reducing the amount of plastic waste in the environment.

 

Julius Marlow do they break down in landfill though? cos i heard biodegradable stuff is useless unless u compost it cos u cant recycle it and it doesnt degrade without sun/air ie in landfill

Please read above

Our straws do not meet standards for a compostable plastic for this reason, they will break down in an open environment – do not have to be composted, they will also then breakdown in a landfill environment through the presence of oxygen, While our straws are being used by a consumer – during their useful life – they are present to oxygen, so the oxo – degradation is taking place from the moment they are made, more when the box is opened by the shop owner and while they go through their “Useful Life” not all rubbish in a landfill is buried to the point there is no oxygen, also with the change in molecular structure, the straw is able to be broken down further “Reverte products initially catalyse the oxo-degradation of the polymer chains and then promote the

growth of microbial colonies to expedite the second biodegradation stage.”

– Then if they end up in landfill, the molecular structure of the straw has already been changed by the 1st stage, making them able to be then be broken down further by a microbiological process, where standard PP straws cannot be broken down at all and can last up to 30+years.

 

Ai Mee-Goreng If these are only degradable in a compost system they aren’t really an eco straw, unless the venue has a waste system to deal with them they’ll just go to landfill.

Ai Mee – Our straws do not meet standards for a compostable plastic for this reason, they will break down in an open environment – do not have to be composted, they will also then breakdown in a landfill environment through the presence of oxygen, While our straws are being used by a consumer – during their useful life – they are present to oxygen, so the oxo – degradation is taking place from the moment they are made, more when the box is opened by the shop owner and while they go through their “Useful Life” not all rubbish in a landfill is buried to the point there is no oxygen, also with the change in molecular structure, the straw is able to be broken down further “Reverte products initially catalyse the oxo-degradation of the polymer chains and then promote the

growth of microbial colonies to expedite the second biodegradation stage.”

– Then if they end up in landfill, the molecular structure of the straw has already been changed by the 1st stage, making them able to be then be broken down further by a microbiological process, where standard PP straws cannot be broken down at all and can last up to 30+years.

Eva Mackinley Post stolen from Sydney Bartender Exchange:

Attention People of the Straw:

There has been quite a bit of back and forth recently around whether or not there is a viable, environmentally sustainable alternative to straws on the Australian market.

There has also been a lot of new suppliers arrive on the market since the The Last Straw became a prevalent focus of discussion in our industry. I think the more of us that are part of this discussion the better.

I agree, our business has been in the industry since 1989, we are actively trying to make a difference – offering alternatives such as paper straws, and now our oxo-biodegradable straws.

My concern lies in a lack of understanding in what is being sold to us, and either intentionally or unintentionally exploiting the current focus for sustainability in our industry. I agree – if people comment – please do some research first

I did some research and got in contact with Robin Tuckerman, the Executive Officer at Australian Bioplastics Association. They are ‘the peak industry body for manufacturers, converters and distributors of bioplastics throughout Australia and New Zealand.’

After looking into a few brands of ‘bio-straws’ I found the following information:

– the majority (if not all) of the ‘biodegradable’ straws on the market are actually oxo-biodegradable.

There are a number of different types of “Eco Straws” – Oxo-Biodegradable, PLA – Poly Lactic Acid, Paper, Steel or Glass straws that can be re-used are also classed as an eco-straw”

– bio-straws are (generally speaking) made up of a mixture of PLA (fermented corn starch) and a bi-product of refined oil.

– oxo-biodegradable products will not completely biodegrade even in a compost environment, rather leaving fragments in the environment for years

There will be fragments of plastic which break off during different stages of the degradation process, the same way a leaf does, isnt it better that we are at least trying to make a difference rather than just pushing the standard PP option which will not break down at all? The human race needs to ensure that our waste ends up firstly in the right place (either recycling centers, composting or at least a land fill) – we are slowly learning to put things in the right bin, but in most cases, we can make a eco friendly product, but if it is not disposed of properly it is still likely waste will end up in the wrong place – our waterways, our beaches, on the side of the road or highway.

– a standard oxo-biodegradable plastic bag will take 18 months to break down

– there is nothing that is currently certified on the Australian market that meets the international biodegradable or compostable standards (AS4736)

– without a compostable environment these products will become part of landfill, where biodegradation takes an extensive period of time.
Please do not generalise – as all products are tested to break down over various times depending what they are tested as.

I am all for finding a sustainable solution to straws across our business and the industry at large but refuse to pay more for a product that is the coconut oil equivalent of the beverage receptacle world.

We have considered the cost of our product in the market place, and was one of the factors we decided to go ahead with an oxo-biodegradable straw, not only the impact on the environment, it has to be user friendly and have a reasonable shelf life, but then has also to be cost effective for the end user. We offer the Eco-Straw as a cost effective option, while also offering paper straws aswell. Due to the nature of the product – there is still a shelf life being an oxo-biodegradable product. Hopefully through education of our distributors and their customers, we have a product that meets the economic needs aswell as being eco friendly. As there is additives used to make an eco straw, they will be higher in cost, but using our buying power – we hopefully can help keep the costs down. We ask our distributors to do the same. At the end of the day, it has to be economically viable for all concerned, while also providing an eco-friendly solution.

 

2/ Shelf Life and Usability and Food Safe

The second consideration is making sure we provide a product that is commercially sound, has enough shelf life to make it through its “Useful Life” before degrading to a point that it cannot be used.

We have been conservative in our initial orders, as we don’t know what the demand for this product will be, however from initial conversations we are positive we have the right formula to get this straw to market.

The product is food safe and meets all standards here, the PP base is all food grade Poly Propelene, with then the Reverte additives meeting food safety standards.

During its “Useful Life” the straw looks and feels like a normal PP straw.

Our tests provide the following life cycle

 

a/ Total Shelf Life – 18 months @ 20deg – Obviously we can have much higher temperatures, especially when these goods are stored in warehouses, transported in trucks etc, so we ask our distributors where possible to store the product in a cool dry position if possible and only order what they need each month -do not over order. We need to keep this stock moving, not sit in warehouses for too long.

We will need a few months to settle our levels, once the market takes on the product fully.

Any forecasts from our distributors will be helpful.

 

b/ Useful Life of the product once opened is between – 2-4 months again depending on storage conditions/temperatures of the shop owners, cafes etc (again if stored in cooler positions – would be advised.

 

Our distributors and their customers have an obligation with this product aswell to treat it with respect, do not over order, turn it over so that the end consumer has a pleasant experience, their straw is not breaking down while they are trying to drink the milkshake they just ordered.

We have date codes on the box – when it was manufactured, and the shop owners should write a date on the box, in the date box printed so they can see when these straws were opened. Allowing 2-4 months these straws should be ok to use. If a customer needs longer than this – they need to look at an alternative product – maybe our Paper straws, or unfortunately they will have to continue using the standard PP straw.

The Eco-Straw needs to be treated with Respect and stock needs to be rotated, noted it does not have the shelf life of a standard PP straw. (e 30 years)

 

c/ If the straws are show signs of being brittle, cracking and breaking, they have past their Useful Life, and should not be used. This is the nature of the product, they will breakdown in the presence of oxygen, so we all have a responsibility to make this work.

We will order in lower numbers but more regularly to keep the products shelf life at its optimum, our distributors need to order as required, along with the shop owners – “do not overstock” and the life cycle of this straw will be enough to go through its normal process.

 

More details of the Life Cycle and pictures of the Date Codes and Date Boxed on the packaging can be seen on our website www.eco-straw.com.au

 

 

3/ Economics

Finally – we hope we have provided Australia with an Eco Straw that is commercially sound, priced just above the standard PP straw, but cheaper than Paper and PLA straws. It is imperative that we turn this product over due to its shelf life.

Our valued distributors who have been dealing with our company since 1989 have provided us with this opportunity to keep the costs down through the volumes they buy from us.

We have offered our distributors a very fair price through the support of our suppliers, and through our buying power.

We are in a very unique position to make a change for the better with our eco straw, if we all treat it with respect, educate our distributors and consumers so we can all work together to reduce the impact of plastic on the environment.

 

I hope the above has helped clear up some of the clutter of information that is out there.

 

For relevant reports and certificates, please download from:

http://austraw.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Eco-Straw-Reports.pdf

 

Happy for you to put this up on your site or any forum.

 

Thanks again for your support and for the customers who have asked the questions on the Bartender Forum.

Regards

Mick Krause

Mgr Dir

Austraw Pty Ltd