SUPERMARKET’S GLITTER LITTER ISSUE
Supermarkets are using tens of tonnes of plastic glitter each year much of which ends up as potential toxic pollution in the environment.
To solve the issue many retailers are looking to change to bioplastic based glitter, but according to a leading expert this isn’t the answer.
Stephen Cotton a Chemical Engineer and Commercial Director of Ronald Britton Ltd, the developers and manufacturers of Bioglitter®, the world’s first naturally degradable glitter said: “Tens of tonnes of plastic glitter are used by supermarkets in cards, packaging and in particular for flower and horticultural decoration. It’s a major plastic issue, which supermarkets are looking to address as part of their plastic pact.”
According to Stephen, the plastic issue presented by glitter needs a completely different approach to that of plastic packaging faced by the industry. Stephen said: “Glitter, due to its size and use, is a microplastic particularly when used on cards and on flowers. It can fall off throughout the supply chain and end up in the general environment. End of life, the usual focus for plastic waste, is not the full story when it comes to glitter. The whole supply chain needs to be considered; from wash-up at the manufacture or coating stage, to clean up during transportation and instore presentation, eventually to final disposal.”
Glitter decorated products are sold on an industrial scale in supermarkets in particular glitter decorated flowers, which is a huge industry in its own right worldwide.
Stephen added: “The scale of glitter usage is considerable in high street products, and while bioplastics such as PLA certainly have their role in helping solve the issue faced in packaging products, these materials are simply not a plausible solution for glitter. Bioplastics like PLA need industrial composting conditions to biodegrade, a waste stream which it’s practically impossible to get small glitter particles into, especially when the particles find themselves in the general environment. Retailers and suppliers need to look to for a more universal solution when it comes to glitter.”
Bioglitter®, created by UK manufacturer Ronald Britton Ltd, is the first glitter on the market proven to biodegrade in the natural environments, and according to Stephen, one that should be the product of choice or at least the bench mark for suppliers in the decorative glitter and flower market. “At Ronald Britton we are leading the industry and have created the only naturally degradable glitter on the market of its kind.” he said.
“It’s based on a plant derived product, using a special high tech form of cellulose unique to Bioglitter®. It needs microbes to biodegrade, therefore, it is stable in sterile environments and won’t degrade on the shelf; however once it enters soil, waste water or fresh water environments, where microorganisms are present, the glitter will naturally decompose.”
Bioglitter has recently gone through independent testing by OWS Belgium, which revealed it has excellent biodegradability in fresh water, a very challenging natural environment. Bioglitter was tested against a PLA alternative that showed no measurable sign of decomposition.
Stephen went on to say: “The independent testing we’ve been through shows the huge gulf between PLA based glitter and Bioglitter®. The vast majority of the biodegradable content in Bioglitter, biodegrades in just four weeks in fresh water, a very challenging natural environment. Whereas the PLA alternative just flat-lined and showed virtually no sign of decomposition. PLA biodegradability performance is well documented, however, we wanted to categorically prove the difference in performance. In the right context PLA is a great plastic alternative for packaging, where it can be easily be put into the composting recycle bin. However, for glitter, where the compost recycling bin is not a credible option, PLA’s poor decomposition performance in the natural environment makes it simply not suitable as an option. The good thing is the industry now has alternative in the form of Bioglitter®.
Bioglitter® with its fantastic biodegradability credentials coupled with it being a whopping 92% plastic free represents a truly eco-friendly glitter. However, the Ronald Britton team are still determined to drive on with the Bioglitter® journey, not only so it biodegrades in the natural environment but also to attain the ultimate 100% plastic free goal.
Stephen summed up “The Bioglitter® journey is all about making our products both; plastic free, so they are not microplastics and biodegradable in the natural environment, so they leave minimal or no trace. We are extremely pleased about the progress we have made so for with removing 92% of the plastic and obtaining independent proof of its ability to biodegrade in challenging natural environment. However, we are determined and excited about driving it over the line and achieving our 100% plastic free goal.”
For more information on Bioglitter and their journey to create plastic free biodegradable glitter, visit www.discoverbioglitter.com