Indonesians get a taste of the "green" palette

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia ( November 17) - PRA's first-ever Green Packaging conference, held on 17 November alongside the Plastics and Rubber Indonesia exhibition at the Jakarta International Expo Kemayoran in Indonesia, was a success judging from the turnout of 68 delegates from Japan, Indonesia, China and Malaysia, with presentations from seven prominent industry and institutional leaders. Initial reviews from the delegates were overwhelmingly positive, with many noting the high quality of the speakers, panel discussions and presentations.

Bio work-in-progress
Presiding as the conference moderator, Indonesian Packaging Federation Chairman Yoesoef Santo, kick started the event with his address. He said, "To wrestle the count ry out of the ranks of under-development, we need to lessen the burden on the environment. But first, we need to implement legislation as a starting point for this."

Active since 1978 in association such as APINDO (The Employers' Association of Indonesia), AFPI (Association of Federation Plastics Industries) and Inaplas (Aromatic, Olefin and Plastic Association) , the industry stalwart also said that work on recycling legislation has been ongoing since 2008. "It needs the participation of all stakeholders, from raw material manufacturing firms, converters making household, technical and packaging items and users of these items such as the food, cosmetics and pharma industries, to the consumers."

This provided a suitable backdrop for Tobias Haber, Regional Head, Speciality Plastics, BASF Southeast Asia's presentation on "Sustainable Organic Waste Management". Pointing out that the German chemical firm does not support "green washing", Haber said it is important to understand the word "bio".

The firm's solution to sustainability is to involve the entire chain. Hence, Haber spoke about the use of BASF's compostable resin Ecovio to make plastic bags that can be filled with organic waste, which in industrial composts biodegrade within four weeks, as opposed to the current disposal in landfills and incineration. Bin liners made from Ecovio are also said to be strong and tear-resistant, even if the waste inside is wet.

Pilot projects at composting plants have been set up in Germany, Canada and Australia as well as Thailand to test the idea out. "The key to Ecovio's compostability is because the material comprises a partly petroleum-based compostable plastic called Ecoflex FS and corn-based PLA," said Haber.

No more green washing
Taking the above cue, Asmu Wahyu Saptorahardjo from Indonesian masterbatch producer Inter Aneka Lestari Kimia touched on global concerns on singleuse plastic bags that are not recycled. Asmu also explained the differences between oxo-degradable plastics that are sometimes incorrectly identified as oxo-biodegradable. "Although they allow the plastic to return to the envi ronment , these products are not biodegradable but instead contain 15% recycled material," he highlighted.

He also spoke about the company's starch-based Enviplast polymer, a fully biodegradable resin with properties and qualities equal to environmental friendly characteristics. Some of the features include combustibility, leaving only ashes; solubility in hot water ; and ability to biodegrade within 120 days (under natural conditions).

But why do we need to recycle or use biodegradable plastics? Indonesia-based Robert Wrighton, Associate Editor of Respects magazine and contributor to PRA's management column, said that green packaging is simply good business sense. "You need a planet in a good condition in which to operate," he said, driving home a simple point!

He also pointed out that the entire green movement suffered from a lack of commonly agreed definitions and suggested that "green" be defined as a beneficial activity that causes minimum harm to people or the planet.

Wrighton also questioned the application of reduce, reuse and recycle ( the 3Rs concept ) . He asked, "Can you reduce the use of packaging? Can you design packaging that can be reused? Can your packaging be recycled?" This is a challenge for the plastics industry and maybe a benchmark. As to why green packaging should be used, Wrighton said that it adds to profitability, keeps an individual proactive and involved in giving back to society, and keeps a company ahead of the competition.

Codification required in industry
Besides the lack of legislation in Indonesia, Theresia Indrawanti Pudyanto, a plastics specialist and polymers practitioner, highlighted that the industry requires a packaging codification to facilitate the recycling process. She started off by saying that the colour "green" does not define or identify plastic materials but the type, make and material composition of the item.

She also pointed out that global concerns for nature and natural resources had given an unfair disadvantage to the recycling industry and challenged its sustainability. "Many countries in Southeast Asia have thriving recycling industries. To fulfill their corporate social responsibility (CSR), plastic industries should assist and ease the process structure of their products at the end of their life times," she added.

She also pointed out varying definitions in the packaging industry that made it confusing. "There are biobased, renewable and compostable packaging and then there are the petroleum-based packaging that offer different sustainable attributes," she added.

Proposing that codification will make it easier to recycle and increase collection of plastic waste, Theresia showed samples of primary and secondary plastic materials that had been coded and displayed symbols, thus making it easier for processing. "Ease of processing contributes to efficiency in recycling or reusing the product, cuts down process time, reduces wastage and prevents loss of earnings in the recycling industry," she reiterated.

Theresia also said that the Indonesian government and plastics sector need to work together to perfect the principles of 3Rs, by implementing the codification system.

Trending in green packaging
Global trends, regional trends, green trends - are these just fads? A speaker f rom the Indonesian Institute of Technology Aniek Handayani says trends in the industry do exist ! She pointed out that the Asia Pacific region will see above-average gains and remain the largest regional market in the world for the packaging sector, due to its large food and beverage industries . Overall , the fastest growth will be seen in Asia, specifically in India, China and Indonesia.

In the machinery sector, Italy - based extrusion machinery supplier Macchi highlighted the latest trends for the micro- layer ing technique as a new trendsetter in cost reduction and product improvement, According to the company's Asia Resident Manager, Flavio Sesia, there are currently 15 commercial scale nano-layer stretch film lines in operation or in various phases of commissioning.

Flavio acquainted the audience with the company's ideas and the economics of being technically different in order to attain better profits as well as introduced a new type of cast film line that allows for cost reduction in stretch film production.

Recommending that savings can be attained by utilising the right kind of machinery, he said it also allows for the use of less expensive material without compromising the physical properties of the end product.

Flavio also said that the use of coreless rolls in Western Europe is steadily increasing. He also sees other external forces encouraging significant adoption of the coreless film route, such as exorbitant landfill charges and taxation for waste generation. "With increasing knowledge and education, end-user customers will demand changes that can prove to be environmentally better," he concluded.(PRA)

About the speakers

1) Mrs Theresia Indrawanti
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2) Mrs Aniek S Handayani
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3) Dr Asmuwahyu Saptoraharjo
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4) Mr Robert Wrighton
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5) Mr Chok Hak Leong
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6) Mr Hanno Karweit
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7) Dr Tobias Haber
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