Plastic is polluting the planet: is it possible to live without it?

08 May 2019

Plastic is polluting the planet: is it possible to live without it?

Manuela Vullo, Isonova

The title’s question is a provocation, because plastic has become fundamental for today’s life. However, can we live without it?


Even if plastic is necessary, we have to think about the damages made by its excessive use and we must find a solution. In fact, since 1967, just 9% of the total amount of produced plastic has been recycled.


The problem of plastic islands and microplastic particles dismissed in the sea is now reality. There are microplastics in the fish we eat, in the water we use to irrigate the fields and also in drinking water, with unknown implications on humans’ health.


Once left in the environment, plastic remains for hundreds of years, until it biodegrades spontaneously. A dismissed plastic bottle, for example, needs 1,000 years to biodegrade in the ground or 450 years in water. If we think about the tonnes of plastic objects that are invading the environment and the oceans, new environmentally friendly materials are like fresh air for the planet.


Today we can count on performing alternatives with the same characteristics of traditional plastic. But it is not easy to divulge the message, because of companies’ strategies, which generally opt for scale economies and cost reduction in the production chain instead of choosing eco-sustainable alternatives.


What could we do to change the impact of plastic waste?


It is fundamental that everyone, including governments, companies and consumers become aware of the impact on the environment, which is no longer sustainable. Everyone should take responsibility and act accordingly to overcome this problem: promoting research on biodegradable plastic, developing new sustainable materials and using brands and packaging, which show their sustainable choices.


It is also fundamental to speak about the problem, to showcase environmental damages vs. good practices, as well as rewarding worthy projects.


What is Isonova doing?


Being producers of plastic materials means we have the responsibility of finding new innovations, in order to decrease the plastic waste in the environment. We undertook some research, which in 2018 led to the launch of BioLaminil, our range of bio sandwich panels with improved biodegradability.


BioLaminil has the same qualities as Laminil, our best-known material, but it is biodegradable. In fact, when disposed with general waste or accidentally dispersed in the environment, BioLaminil biodegrades naturally within five years, depending on atmospheric conditions. A particular mix of bacteria, inserted in the foam during the plastic extrusion, wakes up when the finished product ends up in a bacterial environment, such as landfill or in the sea, and starts devouring the material leaving nothing behind.


In order to completely replace our Laminil with its biodegradable sibling, we are updating our BIO range with new products for different uses.


It will be a great breakthrough for shop fitting and visual merchandising, which are still in their early days of environmental sustainability, because it is the first eco-sustainable plastic material available for the applications in this market. There will be also other good uses in printing and converting, such as offset and digital printing, lamination, thermal and luxury packaging.


In developing BioLaminil we care about the performance. We believe that we have to guarantee high functionality in order to convince companies, agencies and converters to replace traditional materials such as plastic with sustainable materials.


Alongside our materials development, we are actively involved in promoting the existence of BioLaminil and the environmental benefits it will bring.


To do this, we attend exhibitions, meet and talk with agencies, companies, designers and converters to create communication projects for displays and packaging, and we organise speeches in universities for the future sector’s operators. Within our newsletters, social networks and websites, we also give visibility to other associations, companies and projects to show how these have been produced using our biodegradable panels.

We also look at ways to recycle our low-quality products, which cannot be sold because of manufacturing defects, as a result of our strict quality controls.

Over the last 5 years, we have donated our low-quality panels to schools, churches and associations, which use it as “free” durable material for their creative projects.

Every time it is surprising for us to see how children’s imagination and craftsmanship can create beautiful objects from waste materials. At the same time, we think that Laminil could teach them about the recycling process.

We believe that the creation of a sustainable world starts from small initiatives.

To find out more, visit us at FESPA Global Print Expo 2019 in hall B4, stand L42. For free entry visit www.fespaglobalprintexpo.com and use code FESM924 for free entry.