Bunzl is taking a proactive approach to sourcing
environmentally friendly products for customers and will
continue this business area further in the future. For example,
we are working with a manufacturer to develop plastic bags from
sustainable and renewable sources, such as the tapioca plant
and sugar cane.
Many customers are interested in reducing their environmental
impact, but currently there is much confusion regarding the
terms used to describe the different plastics available
(i.e. biodegradable, compostable, degradable).
Biodegradable plastic will degrade as a result of bacterial activity under specific conditions. Compostable plastic, on the other hand, is biodegradable, but the degradation of the plastic has met certain specified standards (American standard ASTM#D6400-99) relating to the rate of biodegradation, maximum residue of material left at a specific point in time and a requirement for the material to have no harmful impact on the final compost or composting process.
Examples of plastics that break down due to a combination of
physical and bacterial activity are oil-based products such as
polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyethylene, polypropelene
and polystyrene. A proprietary mixture (for example, EPI or
D2W) can be added to them to accelerate the breakdown of their
chemical structures under certain conditions (these products
are sometimes referred to as oxo-biodegradable).
Degradable plastics break down in appropriate conditions due either to bacterial activity (biodegradable and compostable plastics) or as a result of physical and chemical impact splitting into small pieces over varying periods of time.
Examples of plastics that break down due to a combination of physical and bacterial activity are oil-based products such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyethylene, polypropelene and polystyrene to which is added a proprietary mixture (for example, EPI or D2W) that accelerates the breakdown of the chemical structure in certain conditions (these products are sometimes referred to as oxo-biodegradable).
Bunzl is able to source products from all the above materials according to customer requirements. However, due to the differing properties of the above materials, not all products are available in each material.
Bunzl has a range of products made fully or partly from materials that have been recycled, including polyethylene bin liners, carrier bags and hygiene paper. Degradable bags made from recycled plastic are also available. Currently, recycled plastics are rarely used in food packaging because of food safety concerns.
These products are made from material that can be recycled. Reusing plastic is preferable to recycling as it uses less energy and fewer resources. Bunzl can supply Bags for Life (e.g. more robust bags which can be made from a variety of materials that can be used more than once).