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Posted: Aug 22, 2012
Organic waste from the racing weekend to be turned into valuable compost
(Nanowerk News) BASF’s biodegradable plastic ecovio® FS Paper takes center stage in a pilot project involving disposable and biodegradable tableware during the ADAC Masters Weekend motorsport event being held from August 24 to 26 at the race track Lausitzring. During the weekend of the event, the Polster® Catering company, which is in charge of general catering at the Lausitzring, will use only cardboard trays and paper plates that are compostable. Cups will follow suit next season.
The disposable tableware, manufactured by the Hosti company, is not made of a conventional plastic, but rather of paper that is coated with a thin layer of ecovio FS Paper. This creates disposable tableware whose plastic layer ensures that it does not soak through but which does not have to be incinerated – as is usually the case – after being used. Instead, it can be processed along with the organic waste in order to yield valuable compost. This high-quality soil is subsequently used again at the Lausitzring in order to upgrade the soil that has been stressed by the open-cast mining in the past. Thanks to this closed loop system, the project partners have breathed life into a project that is unique on the European continent. The Lausitzring is the first large-scale event location in Europe to introduce such a system. This project is part of the “Green Lausitzring”, within the scope of which the management company EuroSpeedway Verwaltungs GmbH, in its capacity as the operator of the Lausitz race track, is supporting and testing environmentally friendly technologies.
Using – collecting – composting
To make sure that visitors return the used compostable tableware to the catering stands and do not throw it away in the regular trash cans, the organizers will be charging a one-euro deposit per item. The caterers will collect the disposable tableware, together with the food residues, in likewise compostable trash bags and will transport them to the Hörlitz composting plant. The operators of the composting plant have set aside a dedicated area for composting the organic waste from the Lausitzring, where the degradation behavior can be precisely monitored and controlled. Consequently, this pilot project serves not only to underscore an active commitment to saving resources in the realm of motorsports but also to study the degradation behavior of large quantities of trays and plates that have been coated with ecovio FS Paper. This study is being conducted by the Department of Waste Management and Material Flow of the University of Rostock in Germany.
Pilot project: compostable and disposable tableware at large-scale events
Numerous pilot projects have already enabled BASF to demonstrate that organic waste bags made of ecovio FS degrade within a short period of time in industrial composting plants. ecovio is a plastic that meets the strict statutory stipulations of European standard EN 13432 for the biodegradability and compostability of packaging. The pilot experiment at the Lausitzring is the first of its kind to test how disposable tableware with an ecovio FS Paper coating can be composted in large quantities. Together with its cooperation partners, BASF intends to expand this closed-loop concept for biodegradable disposable tableware along the entire value-added chain, so that it can be deployed at large-scale events in stadiums or at trade fairs, or else in (fast-food) restaurants, office complexes, hospitals or leisure & sports centers.
Biodegradable plastics: ecovio ® and ecoflex ®
Whereas the first ecovio products were based on BASF’s classic, oil-based biodegradable polyester ecoflex®, ecovio FS Paper is a new development. This material is made of the now partially bio-based ecoflex FS and PLA (polylactic acid), which is obtained from corn starch. As a result, the thin plastic layer on the disposable tableware consists of more than 50% renewable raw materials, and in fact, the finished article consists of more than 90% organic raw materials. Like the biodegradable waste itself, the ecovio molecules are broken down by microorganisms with the aid of enzymes. The only decisive factor for this degradation process is the structure of the molecule and not the origin of the raw materials. At the end of the composting process, the microorganisms will have completely converted the cardboard plates with the ecovio coating into carbon dioxide, water and biomass. This is a decisive advantage in terms of waste recovery since the waste disposal companies do not have to laboriously sort out the tableware. On the contrary, the material simply turns into valuable compost along with the rest of the organic waste.