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In a recent Sustainable Brands webinar, Lenzing Group and a panel of experts discussed the implications and applications of biodegradable alternatives to fossil-based plastic products such as wet wipes; as well as efforts to engage the public on their benefits.
Every year, 300 million tons of fossil-based plastic are produced — roughly half
of these materials are used for the production of single-use applications such
as packaging, bottles or wipes. When disposed of improperly, these synthetic
materials can contribute to massive pollution of our environment, since it will
take them hundreds of years to decompose. According to
done in 2017 by the European Union, the top 10 most polluting single-use
plastic products represent 50 percent of marine litter on European beaches.
Fossil-based plastic, however, can be found in every corner of the world — in
the depths of the
remote pathways in the forest, and even Arctic ice.
These alarming facts and figures show that we cannot continue as before.
to change for the better by educating consumers on more sustainable alternatives
to fossil-based plastic products such as wet wipes — which is exactly what
Sustainable Brands™, in cooperation with the Lenzing
Group, set out to do through a recent
A panel of experts joined us for the webinar. Bruno De Wilde, from
Belgium-based Organic Waste Systems, summarized
biodegradability as: “… nature’s way of dealing with waste. It is basic biology
— a biochemical process in which organic material is converted by microorganisms
back to the mineral building blocks CO2 and water and also new biomass.” TÜV Austria
Group’s Claude Wei clarified that biodegradability is a vague term, since
microorganisms vary a lot in different environments; this indicates that a
product that is biodegradable in soil might not biodegrade in water. For this
reason, TÜV — which certifies biodegradable products — has created numerous
certifications to specify the different environments where products are
biodegradable or even compostable. Finally, Dimitri Deheyn, from the
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, shared insights derived from an ongoing
project to understand product biodegradability in the oceans: “Microorganisms
that are present are also driven by the natural environment in which they are —
whether it’s temperature or the exposure to UV.”
Lenzing’s plant-based VEOCEL™ branded
fibers are a sustainable alternative
to fossil-based synthetic materials in nonwoven applications. Since VEOCEL
fibers are made from the renewable raw material wood, they are part of the
natural life cycle: The LENZING™ fibers have been certified
by TÜV AUSTRIA BELGIUM NV in all natural and industrial environments — including soil and
compost, as well as fresh and marine water.
As Jürgen Eizinger — VP of Global Business Management, Nonwovens at Lenzing
— explained: “When there is the VEOCEL logo on a product, then there are 100
percent biodegradable fibers in it.” The VEOCEL label helps consumers to make a
sustainable choice at a
and, through its ItsInOurHands initiative, in partnership with Plastic Free
World, Eizinger said Lenzing aims “to stimulate a change in the way people
think and handle wet wipes. It is now time to generate greater awareness, and
provide more education for people about environmental protection. Anyone can
contribute to this — producers, brands, retailers, and most importantly perhaps consumers
Published May 14, 2020 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.