The awareness for environmental issues is constantly increasing. With regards to waste the EU has issued a directive to reduce landfill of waste and its adverse effects on the environment. The concept is being implemented throughout Europe favouring prevention, re-usage, recycling and composting in waste management. It is against this background that Mondi Industrial Bags has developed the world's first biodegradable industrial bag: Terra Bag. With this innovation Mondi further extends its Green Range® of paper and packaging products optimised to save natural resources and reduce waste.
"Because of its reduced environmental impact Terra Bag perfectly fits the green purchasing endeavours and sustainable development commitment of our customers," says Claudio Fedalto, sales and marketing director of Mondi Industrial Bags. "With the compostable Terra Bag you can turn packaging into valuable humus, a great way to manage waste," he adds.
Intense collaboration with customer and suppliers
Terra Bag was developed in close collaboration with the French cement producer Ciments Calcia (Italcementi Group), the film extruder Barbier and cereals producer Limagrain. "At Ciments Calcia, sustainable development and innovation are not just empty words," explains David Guglielmetti, head of marketing at Ciments Calcia. "We live this commitment and are not satisfied by simply complying with legal requirements but want to go further. With this project we offer a tangible waste management solution for construction sites and have made sure distributors and building organisations are involved from an early stage onwards. In our packaging supplier Mondi we found a partner at the same time ready to invest in a long-term product development and capable of providing the necessary packaging know-how."
Since the project was launched in 2007, each partner contributed to the successful development of the biodegradable bag. Mondi bag know-how resulted in a bag solution meeting the clear requirements of Calcia to achieve the same product quality with regards to filling speed and bag resistance. The six months labelisation process was successfully led by Mondi's application engineers and resulted in obtaining the OK Compost label for industrial composting – which confirms the compliance with EN 13432 - from the Belgian independent organisation AIB Vinçotte.
A paper bag completed by a biodegradable film
The biodegradable film used for Terra Bag is partly made from corn. Joined together with sack kraft paper, also made from renewable resources and biodegradable, these components ideally complement the sustainable industrial packaging solution. The entire bag can be composted within 12 weeks in an industrial composting facility after usage. During this process the bag is broken down by micro-organisms finally resulting in humus, suitable for agriculture or gardening.
Intelligent waste management
In line with the European Directive for Waste Management, Terra Bag is transformed into valuable humus through the industrial composting process, and used again for enriching soil. In order to fully benefit from this cycle Terra Bag needs to be integrated into the waste management system for biodegradable waste already in place in many countries. Should a system need to be set up at a construction site, the setup cost of such a system is estimated at only half of the disposal cost without such waste separation¹. Terra Bag is easily recognisable as compostable as it is clearly labelled for this purpose.
Reduced environmental impact
The use of renewable raw materials in the production of paper and bioplastics helps slow down the depletion of non-renewable resources and reduces waste production and environmental pollution. Lifecycle analyses of bioplastics show that CO2 emissions can be up to 20% lower than those for commodity polymers², when properly disposed of in industrial composting facilities.
Optimised for fillers' needs
Compared with pure paper bags Terra Bag provides enhanced product protection, the biofilm presenting a moisture protection which improves the shelf-life of the filling good. The bag has been optimised thanks to various tests carried out by our application engineers at the Bag Application Centre (BAC) and directly at customers' sites. The bag solution presents no constraints in filling speed; therefore, fillers do not need to settle for a compromise but can enjoy their usual production speed while reducing the environmental impact of their product packaging.
Confirmed compostability and biodegradability
Terra Bag is certified according to EN 13432. This norm requires compliance of several aspects:
- Biodegradability: tested in a controlled environment (humidity, oxygen, temperature, CO2 production), at least 90% of the organic material must be converted into CO2 within six months (non-biodegradable components must not exceed the limit of 1% each and 5% in total [ink, glue])
- Disintegration: after 12 weeks composting and subsequent sifting through a 2mm sieve, no more than 10% residue of the original mass may remain
- Compostability: practical test of compostability in an industrial composting facility - no negative influence on the composting process is permitted
- Ecotoxicity: compost application - examination of the effect of resultant compost on plant growth (agronomic test), ecotoxicity test
¹ Source: FFB and ADEME
² Source: europeanbioplastics.org