Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 19

inside at... the EuBC
so you cannot recycle without
them, " he emphasised.
Because few plastic recycling
centres accept biopolymers,
the thinking goes, it costs more
to collect and redirect them
there. This means that, rather
than being recycled, they instead
frequently end up going
to landfill or being incinerated.
In other words, the bioplastics
lobby needs to up their
game to balance the scales on
the removal fees for biopolymers,
Noordegraaf urged.
Carbon tax
Noordegraaf calculated the total cost of bioplastics versus the alternatives by considering five cost drivers
Total cost: bioplastics
vs. the alternatives
Jan Noordegraaf, managing
director of Dutch sustainable
solutions consultancy Innograaf,
crunched the numbers
during his presentation at
the EUBP conference. Sustainable
Plastics sat down with him
for an in-depth discussion of
the background assumptions
and results.
Noordegraaf calculated the
total cost of bioplastics versus
the alternatives by considering
five cost drivers: the packaging
removal tax in different European
countries, the price on carbon
as measured by LCA, the
penalty on non-recycle content,
the tax on single-use products
and polymer prices.
He has been collecting data
for the past four years, first
spurred by a client's request to
know more about the cost of
materials. The extensive dataset
and its conclusions are expected
to be published by the Dutch
Rubber and Plastic Industry
Federation (NKR) sometime in
2024, to help its members 'strategise
about the future', Noordegraaf
told Sustainable Plastics.
The first cost driver is the
packaging removal tax. Countries
across Europe mandate
packaging manufacturers to
pay for the collection of their
products after use, which are
then destined for recycling,
landfill or incineration. Taking
the average price in Belgium,
France, the Netherlands, Spain
and Germany in 2024, manufacturers
of biodegradable PLA
or PHA must pay €1,49/kg to
have their products' packaging
removed by local services.
That's almost 6.5 times more
than the price for 100% recycled
PET at €0,23/kg, and almost
twice as much as virgin
PET at €0,79/kg. The cost for
bio-PE is €1,05/kg, virgin HDPE
is €0,69/kg and 100% recycled
PE is €0,06/kg. Expanded polystyrene
(EPS)/styrofoam has
a removal cost of €0,94/kg. In
comparison, removal of paper
packaging costs €0,14/kg, glass
€0,06/kg, aluminium €0,11/kg
and wood €0,87/kg.
France has the lowest packaging
removal tax for plastics
across the board, with €0,540/
kg for bio-PE and €0,64/kg for
PLA/PHA. All five countries
charge more to remove bioplastics
than virgin or recycled
polymers. In Belgium, it costs
an astounding €4,033/kg to remove
PLA/PHA. " It costs more
to get rid of PLA than to buy it
in Belgium, " Noordegraaf noted.
Interestingly, the picture
didn't always look this bleak
for bioplastics.
Lobbying, or lack thereof
The entire dataset spans the
period between 2013 and 2024,
allowing some interesting conclusions
about the effect of policy
on the competitiveness of
bioplastics to be drawn.
Taking the Netherlands as an
example, the packaging removal
tax was such that, between
2013 and 2018, it was considerably
cheaper to dispose of
bioplastics (around €0,02/kg)
than virgin PE (around €0,40/
kg). Between 2019 and 2022,
the values equalised at around
€0,60/kg. In 2023 and 2024, it
is considerably more expensive
to remove biopolymers (around
€1,20/kg) than virgin plastic
(around €0,80/kg).
" I think that's the effect of
lobbying, " said Noordegraaf.
" The focus on recycling has become
so strong that recycling
is more important than origin.
That means if you have recyclable
bio-based content from a
polymer that is not part of the
mainstream, there's a lot of opposition
to recycling it. The recyclers
have not helped the acceptance
of biopolymers. They
are against it, and they are the
ones who own the equipment,
The carbon tax is a levy on the
carbon emissions required to
produce a material, as measured
by that product's GWP. GWP,
in turn, is calculated through a
product's LCA. Carbon taxes
vary per country and are likely to
skyrocket as governments seek
to fund the energy transition. As
of 1 January 2024, the carbon tax
in the Netherlands for large industrial
plants is €74.17 per tonne
of CO2. In Germany, it is €45 per
tonne of CO2.
To simplify calculations, Noordegraaf
assumed a carbon tax of
€100 per tonne of CO2 in a 2024
scenario and of €1,000 per tonne
of CO2 in a 2050 scenario. He
then calculated the levy on different
materials by multiplying
their GWP by the carbon tax in
the two different scenarios. The
GWP values were obtained from
publicly accessible, published,
LCA reports. Results show that
the carbon tax will significantly
benefit bioplastics over virgin
and recycled plastics by 2050, as
they are made of materials that
absorb carbon. Hard PE, for example,
has a carbon levy of €0,18/
kg in 2024 and €1,80/kg in 2050.
Bio-PE, on the other hand, has
a levy of €-0,22/kg in 2024 and
€-2,2/kg in 2050. PHA shows
values of €-0.20/kg and €-2.0/kg,
whereas PLA, with a GWP slightly
above zero, has €0.06/kg and
€0.60/kg. Virgin and recycled
PET have levies of €0,22/2,2/kg
and €0,1/1,0/kg in 2024 and 2050,
respectively. Paper will see similar
levies, at €0,105/1,05/kg.
LCA
How to calculate the LCA of
bioplastics has long been a
continued on page 20
January/February 2024
19

Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024

Contents
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - Cover1
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - Cover2
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - Contents
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 4
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 5
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 6
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 7
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 8
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 9
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 10
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 11
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 12
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 13
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 14
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 15
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 16
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 17
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 18
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 19
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 20
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 21
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 22
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 23
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 24
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 25
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 26
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 27
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 28
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 29
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 30
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 31
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 32
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 33
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 34
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - Cover3
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - Cover4
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