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article imageUK's Guardian switches to potato starch-based biodegradable wrap

By Karen Graham     Feb 9, 2019 in Technology
In January, British newspaper The Guardian became the first national newspaper to use recyclable packaging. As part of a pioneering move to reduce plastic waste, the Guardian’s print edition will no longer be sold in plastic packaging.
According to Richard Furness, managing director of reader revenue and publishing, 20 years ago, the newspaper started using polybags when "the weekend edition started to get bigger and bulkier with extra supplements. It was the only way we could get them out on time and guarantee they would survive the British weather!"
Over the years, the newspaper tried improving on the packaging, but regardless of what they tried, it was still plastic. Mylene Sylvestre, director of publishing says: “It was actually our environment journalists who suggested we try potato starch – a material they had seen being used by the RSPB, the National Trust, and others," reports Potato News Today.
All in all, the response has been amazing, according to the Guardian, from people writing they had been "pleasantly surprised," to one reader commenting on Twitter that she thought this was “the most Guardian thing ever!” But the real success of the endeavor was when the publishers of other companies wrote asking how to get in touch with their suppliers.
Potatoes in a storage
Potatoes in a storage
J.R. Simplot Company
The Guardian went with a material called Bioplast 300. It is made using compounded potato starch, mixed with other ingredients (biodegradable polyesters and additives). The biobased carbon-share of the entire formulation exceeds 30 percent.
Bioplast 300 is manufactured by Biotech, a leading company that develops and produces sustainable bioplastics made from plant-based renewable resources. Biotechs applications range from refuse and shopper bags to pharmaceutical capsules, including food industry blisters, cosmetics packaging and many other products.
The BBC reports that the Guardian says the changeover will increase its production costs. The new packaging has been introduced in London, Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk.
Potato starch
Potato starch
Potato starch and its use in wrappings
We all know what potato starch is, right? Basically, to extract the starch, potatoes are crushed; the starch grains are released from the destroyed cells and then the starch is washed out and dried to a powder.
The starch is used in many many recipes, from sponge cakes to noodles and potato chips. But potato starch has many non-food applications, such as wallpaper adhesive, textile finishing and textile sizing, in paper coating and sizing, and as an adhesive in paper sacks and gummed tape.
Starch is used as a starting material for a wide range of green materials. Nearly 75 percent of all organic material on earth is present in the form of polysaccharides. An important polysaccharide is starch. Actually, starch is found a number of plants, including corn, wheat, rice, potato, tapioca, and peas, to name a few.
Thermoplastic starch currently represents the most widely used bioplastic, constituting about 50 percent of the bioplastics market. They are often blended with biodegradable plastics, such as such as Polylactic acid, Polybutylene Adipate Terephthalate, and others. These blends are used for industrial applications and are also compostable.
Starch-based films, on the other hand, are seen specifically in consumer goods packaging of magazine wrappings and bubble films. In food packaging, these films are seen as bakery or fruit and vegetable bags.
More about BIOPLAST 300, The guardian, biodegradable wrapping, potato starch, Technology
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