Plastic waste: Can it be greener?

The new policy to reduce plastic waste in Shanghai took effect. Austrian research group is working on a greener recycle economy.


Shanghai implements ban on single-use plastic products

On 01.01.2021, the new policy of banning plastic use has come into force in Shanghai City. Disposable plastic bags, whether degradable or not, will not be available in shopping malls, supermarkets, pharmacies and bookstores. Many stores and restaurants have started to use paper bags for food delivery to adjust to the new policy. 

At the same time, the ban on plastic bags has been in effect in Austria since a year. The Institute “Materials” of  is making effort to apply biodegradable materials.


biodegradable materials may contribute to effective recycling process

The Institute “Materials” of Joanneum Research, located in Weiz, Austria, is engaged in developing degradable embossing lacquers and sustainable punching tools for the nanostructuring of films. The institute is one of 19 research partners in the EU-project “FlexFunction2Sustain”, which contributes to sustainable and CO2-avoiding plastic production, recycling and biodegradation at the end of life cycle.

Laminates consist of different basic materials, which complicate the recycling process of plastic bags or even make it impossible. Using homogeneous elements on polyethylene can be an alternative way to keep the properties of plastic products with one single polymer and avoid laminates. “Materials” tries to offer a solution by applying various nanocoatings. If single layers were extreme fine (in nanometer), they would not have any consequence on the recycling, according to Dr. Barbara Stadlober, leader of the research group. Moreover, the additional properties can be developed, including blocking of light, anti-viral properties or chemical resistance.


Comparison of CO2-balance between DIFFERENT MATERIALS

The aim of the research is to apply bio-based materials, which could be produced for example from sugar and vegetable oils. These bio-based polymers are usually biodegradable. Ideally, if no mineral oil is needed in production process. In addition, there will be no extra CO2 emission in the whole product-life cycle. 

According to Dr. Stadlober, plastic bags have the best CO2-balance compared with paper bags and textile bags, which require plenty of water and cotton in production process. It would be better to waste plastic bags after at least three-time use. Moreover, they can be easily recyclable, if they were well collected.

Please check out our website for Chemicals/ Plastic and Paper/ Package below for more information on Austrian companies from related sectors. If you are interested in a business opportunity, please do not hesitate to contact AC Shanghai via

For more information on the Austrian plastics industry, you can also download FRESH VIEW No. 165, Plastics below.