By Andrea Lillo
NEW YORK–For all the consumers that see a plastic bag tumbling down the street and wonder how long it will be before it degrades, a number of biodegradable products are making their way to market, offering an alternative to products that will last long after the customer has tossed it away.
In a growing green industry, these products target consumers who don’t want to add to landfills, and yet still want style and the same level of performance for the products in their home.
In the past, the environmental movement “has a reputation of appealing to charity or self-sacrifice,” with the message to spend more money on green products to benefit the environment, said Andy Van Meter, president of Design Ideas. But with the company’s new line, EcoGen, it is “bringing to market a product that is comparable to similar ones in the store.”
EcoGen is made of PHBV, a material that has been in development for decades but only made commercially viable within the past two years, he said, and his company is the first to use it for home products. EcoGen launched as a bath accessories group in January, and at the International Home & Housewares Show another category will debut, for either the kitchen or home office, he said.
And for those concerned about it degrading while on the job, that’s not the case, he said. To biodegrade, it has to be composted in an “extremely micro-organism environment,” with high heat. But in everyday usage, it performs the same as other injection-molded plastics, such as polystyrene or polypropelene, and looks the same, too. And the reaction has been very positive, he added, even to its “shocking” green color. “A number of retailers are requesting the green color exclusively,” he said. Four colors are available, and products range in price from $7 to $30.
“The industry is hungry to respond to customers’ needs for eco-friendly products,” and has been very supportive, Van Meter said. “We are very excited to finally work with PHBV.”
Other new products are corny, in a good way. At market, Casabella will debut its line of kitchen organizers made from biodegradable and compostable products derived from corn starch, and which is certified for compostability. The new items will include a dish drainer, a cutlery tray and a sponge holder.
Typhoon will show a line of mills made from a biodegradable material called PLA. Available in five colors, the mills will be part of its new line for Pantone, called Pantone Universe by Typhoon.
At Umbra, its Garbino trash can is now made of recycled materials, and the majority of its cans are degradable. The Garbini line, for example, has been revamped into corn plastic.
With so much attention given to plastic grocery bags, simplehuman is addressing the other plastic bags in people’s lives: trash bags. Its new biodegradable can liner uses an additive technology that will be good in the original packaging for more than 18 months, but will degrade in direct sunlight. As durable as its regular can liners, the biodegradable ones are available in white or a clear blue tint to meet municipal recycling guidelines, and are available in three and four sizes, respectively.