Packaging made from Ingeo biopolymer and sold in Germany by Danone is the first to achieve certification from both the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) and the Association and the US-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP).
These complementary certifications help demonstrate and verify the sustainability of Ingeo feedstock production based on sustainable agricultural practices.
In addition to a wide range of nonwovens, products made from Ingeo by NatureWorks now span multiple industries and categories.
The German ISSC PLUS certification and the American Working Landscapes Certificate from IATP require compliance with criteria such as no artificial irrigation in drought-prone areas, strict requirements for pesticide use, and no genetically modified plants.
ISCC PLUS is a new certification system for applications in the technical-chemical fields such as bioplastics. It is based on the ISCC certification system, which has been used successfully for biofuels for over two years. More than 1,200 original ISCC certifications have been issued and the certificate is acknowledged by the European Commission. ISCC-certified biomass cannot be sourced from land with high biodiversity value (such as primary forest, areas designated for the protection of endangered species, or highly bio-diverse grassland), nor from land with high carbon stock (such as wetlands and continuously forested areas), or peat lands. The biomass must be produced in an environmentally responsible manner, Criteria include the protection of soil, water, air, and the application of good agricultural practice. The observance of human rights, labour laws and good land use practice must be guaranteed. Independent auditors working in cooperation with ISCC provided a thorough assessment before the certificate was issued to Ingeo products sold in Germany.
“ISCC is a multi-stakeholder certification system which ensures that biomass is produced according to ecological, economic, and social sustainability criteria and that it is traceable along the entire value-added chain,” says Andreas Feige of the ISCC System GmbH.
The Working Landscapes Certificates programme allows end users of commodity crops to encourage sustainable crop production by providing additional income to farmers for the environmental benefits understood to be associated with more sustainable farming practices. Participating farmers agree to raise crops according to more sustainable agricultural production criteria. The farmer then has two products to sell – the crop itself and the quantified ecological benefits associated with the more sustainable production practices – termed the Working Landscapes Certificate.
Corn farmers in Nebraska and Iowa, near the Ingeo biorefinery, are participating in the programme. In 2011, Working Landscapes Certificate non-genetically modified corn was grown in an area of approximately 1,360 acres. Farmers in the Working Landscapes Certificate program deliver their corn directly to the biorefinery that supplies feedstock for Ingeo production, while receiving a separate payment from the bioplastic user for following program criteria.
The biorefinery, however, delivers the vast majority of the products produced from the corn it processes to other industries. Due to the low-volume material stream for the bioplastics industry, it is impossible to segregate certified corn from uncertified corn. However, what is crucial is that for every ton of Ingeo produced for Danone in Germany, the corresponding acreage of corn is grown according to the Working Landscapes Certificate criteria in the same region.
“This dual certification approach – which reaches from farm to factory – provides a credible and transparent mechanism to connect Danone’s bioplastics use directly to more sustainable corn production in the USA,” says Jim Kleinschmit, IATP’s rural communities program director
Germany has one of the most well-developed waste recovery systems in the world, with nationwide collection of post consumer packaging materials. RE|PLA Cycle GmbH, owned by the company Reclay, is a licensed waste disposal management provider in Germany. Since the beginning of the year, RE|PLA has begun collecting post-industrial manufacturing Ingeo scrap, closed loop event cups, and increasingly
Ingeo and other PLA-based bioplastics packaging from the German Green Dot consumer waste recovery system. RE|PLA directs the collected waste towards reprocessors and NatureWorks channels the rPLA to interested end-user markets. Over the medium and long term, this practice of collection and reuse is expected to further improve the carbon footprint of bioplastics products and reduce the pressure on land use.
“There must be mandatory sustainability criteria for the production of bio-based plastics,” says Martina Fleckenstein, an agricultural expert at WWF Germany “This means that the raw materials must be grown in a way that addresses environmental and social concerns."
“Addressing concerns over feedstock sustainability is important for the future because renewably sourced materials will be the only alternative to fossil-based materials for plastics production,” adds Marc Verbruggen, NatureWorks president and chief executive officer. “While fossil-based energy for transportation and electricity can be replaced with renewable energy produced directly from solar, wind, or hydroelectric power sources, this is not possible for bioplastics materials production. Therefore, assuring sustainable land use is a fundamental requirement for this new technology.”