Plastic pollution has emerged as one of the most important environmental challenges, since the world’s ability to cope with it has been overwhelmed by the rapidly rising manufacturing of disposable plastic products. This issue is especially noticeable in impoverished Asian and African countries, where waste collection systems are frequently ineffective or non-existent. The developed world, particularly in countries with poor recycling rates, has difficulty collecting discarded plastics as well.
As a result, activists, lawmakers, and corporations are all putting in their best efforts to find a solution to this critical issue. Tipa, an Israeli company, has been concentrating its efforts in this area. Daphna Nissenbaum and Tal Neuman founded the company in 2010 with the goal of finding a solution to the environmental dilemma that flexible plastic packaging creates with its harmful residue and microplastics. They devised a game-changing method that has the potential to permanently solve the problem of plastic pollution. Their method does not involve the construction of new processing facilities in order to handle the plastic. On the contrary, it tackles the fundamental problem that underpins the accumulation of plastic waste.
Although conventional flexible plastic packaging is a fast developing industry, only 9% is successfully recycled. According to an OECD report, the world is producing twice as much plastic waste as twenty years ago, with the majority of it ending up in landfill, incinerated or leaking into the environment. Moreover, it is the most polluting source of the oceans, with at least 5 million tonnes discarded each year.
With conventional plastic believed to take around 500 years to biodegrade, Tipa’s method converts food and clothing packaging into garden compost. Essentially, plastic produced by the firm decomposes into tiny particles that are consumed by microbes and transformed into ordinary soil.
The concept behind the Tipa’s technology was to mimic nature. According to Daphna Nissenbaum, CEO and co-founder of the company, the polymers they use will biodegrade and decompose in the same manner as any other organic substance such as apple or banana peel.
Composting is the natural process of converting organic materials such as leaves and food scraps into a fertiliser. Once properly placed in a home compost bin with the optimum balance of organic matter, air, and water, it will heat up to the ideal temperature of 60°C to 68°C within three days, and microorganisms will begin to decompose it.
Tipa specialises in the production of totally compostable flexible packaging, such as films and laminates. Its plastics have the same feeling, appearance, durability, and elasticity as traditional plastics. The only difference is that they use components that will ensure that the final product is biodegradable.
Tipa sells its plastic packaging to a number of manufacturers and businesses. It provides packaging for clothing brands such as Pangaia, British menswear L’estrange, and cycle apparel producer Isadore. It also provides service for the food and drink industry by supplying packaging to Jane’s Dough (a frozen pizza firm) and Sunrays Grapes.
Even though the Tipa’s packaging must be composted, under specific conditions it will biodegrade in a landfill as well. Nissenbaum argues that even discarding Tipa’s packaging is preferable to discarding conventional plastic packaging, which will never fully decompose.