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Microplastics Regulation and the Paper Industry

Navigating Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Paper Production

To address the increasing issue of microplastics around the world, governments are implementing regulations to reduce the use of plastics. These regulations have an impact on the paper industry as coated paper and board can generate microplastics during the recycling process. To overcome this issue, the paper industry is looking into the use of starch-based products that are readily biodegradable and do not meet the definition of microplastics. Moreover, these products offer various benefits to the paper industry.

The Growing Concern of Microplastics

The issue of microplastics has been a topic of concern for quite some time now. These tiny particles, measuring less than 5 millimeters, are found everywhere in our environment and end up in the oceans. They are generally a result of the breakdown of larger plastic items, such as bags, bottles, and packaging, but also from microplastics deliberately manufactured and intentionally added to products. The impact of microplastics on the environment and human health is still being studied, but they pose a serious threat.

Microplastics Regulation: A Step Towards Sustainability

To address this issue, governments around the world are implementing regulations to reduce the use of plastics and limit their impact on the environment. The new EU regulation 2023/2055 aims to reduce microplastics pollution by 30% by 2030, covering all synthetic polymer particles below 5 mm that are organic, insoluble, and resist degradation.

The Impact of Microplastics Regulation on the Paper Industry 

As renewable and recyclable materials, paper and board already have outstanding environmental credentials; however, coated paper and board can generate microplastics during the recycling process. The paper industry needs to find sustainable solutions to eliminate microplastics. Such a solution is the use of starch-based products, which are readily biodegradable according to OECD 301 guidelines and are not microplastics.

Overcoming Challenges: Innovations in Sustainable Paper Production

Starch-based products offer several benefits for the paper industry, including improved paper properties, reduced use of chemicals and enhanced sustainability. Starch-based products can be incorporated into existing paper production processes without significant modifications.

Starch-based products can be used to enhance dry strength properties or replace latex in coated paper and board to improve printability.

Navigating the Future of Sustainable Paper Production

In conclusion, the regulation of microplastics presents challenges for the polymer and paper industries, but also opportunities for sustainable solutions. The use of starch-based products in the paper industry is a promising solution that can help reduce the environmental impact of these industries and meet the growing demand for sustainable products.