Urbaser, a leading environmental management company, working with European project SEALIVE, aims to reduce plastic waste along with marine and land-based pollution through sustainable bio-based plastic solutions.

September 2020, web copy

Due to the growing production of plastics, their easy dispersion and slow break-down process, this has become the planet’s major marine and land problem. The SEALIVE project (2019-23) – which is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme through 24 partners from different fields, raw material suppliers, converters, end users, recyclers, policy experts, certification organisations and NGOs – puts forward solutions as part of a shared vision of circular strategies for plastics.

This project is consistent with Urbaser’s commitments to both sustainable development and SDG 14 regarding Submarine Life – the aim of which is to combine innovative circular economy strategies to manufacture bio-based plastics and biodegradable materials that achieve greater durability and improved design, enabling more efficient recycling and greater biodegradability after use.

The study – which is being carried out on materials for different uses (such as rigid and flexible packaging, cutlery, fish boxes and fishing nets, among others) and uses innovative formulations based on polyhydroxyalkanoates and starchy materials – will enable research to be done to improve current standards of biodegradation, composting and recycling in regard to ecotoxicity, safety and the effect of ageing on plastics.

The results will not only contribute to the adoption of viable circular strategies in the fight against plastic pollution, but will also provide greater understanding of the technical, economic and social barriers to the application of bioplastics. It will also create a sound framework for intensifying policies and investments in this area.

Limiting the use of plastic

According to the European Commission, more than 80% of the rubbish found in the sea is plastic. The SEALIVE project is consistent with the European Parliament’s decision last year to ban single-use plastics such as plates, cutlery, straws and cotton buds from 2021. As part of this, member states must recycle 25% of the plastic contained in plastic bottles by 2025, and 30% by 2030.