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Articles from 2020 In January


Startup Aims to Help Parkinson’s Patients Stay Mobile

NexStride by De Oro Devices
Image of NexStride courtesy of De Oro Devices

For Sidney Collin, founder & CEO of De Oro Devices, the winner of the BIOMEDevice San Jose 2019 Startup Showcase Pitch Competition, the last two years have been a whirlwind.

De Oro Devices’s product NexStride, a device that provides visual and auditory cues to Parkinson’s patients to help them overcome freezing of gait, was inspired by a patient during a program at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where Collin was an engineering student.

“The idea that ultimately became the NexStride started as a project in the Quality of Life Plus program at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo,” Collin told MD+DI. “A local veteran, Jack, approached the program and laid out a challenge to create a device that could help him with his freezing of gait. Over the course of several months, I developed and built the first prototype from scratch. The NexStride evolved from a sketch, to a cardboard box with crudely attached buttons and electronics, to a bulky plastic box attached to Jack’s walker.”

Collin sought even more patient input. “After going to a Parkinson’s support group and seeing the number of people who could benefit from something like Jack’s prototype, I set out to do whatever it took to get this device into the hands of those it could help. That was two years ago. Since then I have brought on two co-founders, graduated from the Cal Poly CIE HotHouse accelerator, won several startup pitch competitions, navigated the complex path to get a medical device to market, and can’t wait to finally start shipping out NexStrides in March!”

Collin explained that research has shown that visual and audio cues can aid Parkinson’s patients. “The visual and audio cues that the NexStride uses have been well researched and have been shown to reduce the duration of freezing episodes, reduce the frequency of freezing episodes, and most importantly, reduce the frequency of falls,” she said. “Using the NexStride allows people with Parkinson’s to retain their independence and mobility through being able to walk confidently and reduce the fear of freezing. Ultimately, a person with Parkinson’s can retain their independence and keep moving and exercising. That exercise can help slow the progression of the disease and improve their day-to-day life. In addition to that, freezing is a leading cause of falls and less freezing means less falling.” A video on De Oro Devices's home page demonstrates use.

Collin and her team kept in touch with users throughout product development, which helped the company overcome a few challenges. “We definitely faced some design challenges, as it can be difficult to design a product to solve a problem that we don’t personally face,” Collin said. “We found the best way to overcome this is to find a group of testers and allow them to be very involved in the design process. We would show every new iteration of the product to these testers to get their feedback and make sure it is exactly what our customers need.”

Such effort paid off. “The feedback we have received from our initial users has been incredible! Seeing the impact that our device has on someone’s life and hearing that feedback is what motivates me every day,” Collin said. She offered some quotes from beta and initial users:

  • “Tonight I walked into the parish hall, to our table laser assisted. After dinner I walked out to the car. About 100’ each way!!! That is the first time I have been able to do that in a year!!!”
  • “The NexStride gives me a sense of freedom; I'm not waiting around the house for my wife to come help me. It really makes a difference. That's been a big change for me. If I want to go into another room, I'm not waiting; I can get up and go do it.”

De Oro Devices is now working to ease access to the product. “We are working on our reimbursement strategy and figuring out the best way to get the NexStride out to everybody that needs it,” Collin said. “While we go through the reimbursement application process, we have developed a partnership with the Parkinson’s Wellness Fund (PWF) to help anybody that needs financial assistance get the NexStride. PWF will subsidize the NexStride for people that need financial assistance—this way anybody who needs the NexStride has a way to get it.”

The company is also currently in the manufacturing stage, working with Evolve Manufacturing in Fremont, CA. Preorders are scheduled to ship in February, with the official NexStride launch in March. Collin said that the company is registered with FDA, and the NexStride is exempt from 510(k) approval.

Future plans include developing a product line of “simple, non-invasive products to improve mobility, independence, and quality of life for people living with neuro-degenerative diseases,” Collin said.

In the meantime, De Oro Devices is reaping the benefits of its win at BIOMEDevice San Jose. “We had a great time at the conference! We connected with some great people in the industry—everybody from IP lawyers to testing labs to part suppliers and other start-ups. Definitely worth the trip up to San Jose! Having a separate section from the rest of the exhibitors helped us stand out and get more traffic. I am glad we got the opportunity to participate this year.” (The company’s award package included free booth space at one future Informa AMG Show, a credit toward IP Assessment provided by Bachmann Law Group PC, a business assessment provided by Manex Consulting, one hour of Research and Development Tax Credit consulting provided by Squar Milner, and media exposure.)

To other startups working on medtech ideas, Collin says: “Glean as much information as you can from the experts around you, who are willing to sit down with you and share their experiences and knowledge. We have benefited an impeccable amount from our advisors and mentors, who have taken the time to help us.”

De Oro Devices will be exhibiting in the MD&M Innovation Lab at Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) West 2020 February 11-13.

J&J Plans to Appeal $344M Transvaginal Mesh Verdict

J&J Plans to Appeal $344M Transvaginal Mesh Verdict
Image by 3D Animation Production Company on Pixabay 

Johnson and Johnson said it will appeal a ruling in the State of California’s transvaginal mesh case that would have it pay $344 million over deceptive marketing practices for its pelvic mesh products.

The California Department of Justice sued J&J and its Ethicon unit in May of 2016 alleging the company neglected to inform both patients and doctors of possible severe complications from the products and misrepresented the frequency and severity of risks the products posed. The trial began on July 15, 2019.

In a release, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said, “[J&J] intentionally concealed the risks of its pelvic mesh implant devices. It robbed women and their doctors of their ability to make informed decisions about whether to permanently implant the products in patients’ bodies. [J&J] knew the danger of its mesh products but put profits ahead of the health of millions of women. Today we achieved justice for the women and families forever scarred by [J&J]’s dishonesty.”

In an email sent to MD+DI on Friday morning, J&J wrote, “At trial, the State failed to present evidence that proved that any California doctor or patient was actually or likely to be misled by any communication from Ethicon. Further, the State failed to call a single California doctor who has used one of Ethicon’s prescription mesh devices, or a single California patient who ever saw an Ethicon communication to testify at trial.”

The company added, “in contrast, Ethicon called numerous California doctors with experience using Ethicon’s pelvic mesh devices to successfully treat the often-debilitating symptoms of stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse in their patients, and those doctors uniformly disputed the State’s allegations. In addition, 82 California surgeons publicly disagreed with the State’s lawsuit in its entirety, indicating in a letter to the California Attorney General that they were not misled by the Company and rely on their medical education and clinical experience, among other sources, to counsel patients on the risks of surgical mesh, rather than information provided by the manufacturer.”

The company said the appeals process for the decision in California is expected to take one to three years.

J&J has faced numerous lawsuits in connection with its vaginal mesh products. In April of 2019, J&J lost a lawsuit when a Philadelphia jury awarded a woman $120 million. Then a month later another Philadelphia jury ordered the company to pay $80 million to a woman injured by its vaginal mesh implants, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

These rulings happened around the same time FDA ordered Boston Scientific and Coloplast to stop selling surgical mesh intended for transvaginal repair of pelvic organ prolapse.

One of the first major transvaginal lawsuits MD+DI reported about occurred in 2012 and resulted in a in Bakersfield, CA awarding Christine Scott $5 million. Scott had been treated with C.R. Bard’s Avaulta mesh to treat a bladder problem.

BASF closes purchase of Solvay’s polyamide business

BASF closes purchase of Solvay’s polyamide business

BASF (Ludwigshafen, Germany) announced today that it has closed acquisition of the polyamide (PA 6.6) business from Solvay (Brussels) for €1.3 billion ($1.4 billion) on a cash and debt-free basis. BASF said in a news release that the transaction broadens its polyamide capabilities with innovative and well-known products such as Technyl, allowing it to support customers with expanded engineering plastics solutions, notably in the autonomous driving and e-mobility space. The transaction also enhances the company’s access to growth markets in Asia as well as in North and South America, said BASF.

Through backward integration of the key raw material adiponitrile (ADN), BASF will now be present along the entire value chain for polyamide 6.6.

BASF polyamide resins
The acquisition of Solvay's polyamide business deepens BASF's materials portfolio for e-mobility applications and enhances access to growth markets in Asia and North and South America. Image courtesy BASF.

The business, which generated about €1 billion ($1.1 billion) in sales in 2018, will be integrated into the Performance Materials and Monomers divisions of BASF.

The transaction between Solvay and BASF includes eight production sites in Germany, France, China, India, South Korea, Brazil and Mexico as well as research and development centers and technical consultation centers in Asia, and North and South America. In addition, it encompasses shares in two joint ventures (JV) in France: Solvay’s 50% share in the Butachimie JV with Invista to produce ADN and hexamethylenediamine (HMD), and a 51% share in the new Alsachimie JV between BASF and DOMO Chemicals to produce adipic acid.

At closing, approximately 700 Solvay employees join BASF. The Alsachimie JV between BASF and Domo Chemicals in France employs approximately 650 employees; the Butachimie JV between BASF and Invista has approximately 400 employees.

In September 2017, BASF signed an agreement with Solvay on the acquisition of Solvay’s global polyamide business, subject to the approval of the relevant antitrust authorities. The EU Commission approved the acquisition of the polyamide business, subject to certain conditions, on Jan. 18, 2019. These conditions required the sale of parts of the original transaction scope to a third party, specifically Solvay’s production plants and innovation competencies in the engineering plastics field in Europe. Domo Chemicals (Leuna, Germany) was approved by the E.U. Commission as the buyer. The transaction between Solvay and Domo Chemicals also closed on Jan. 31, 2020.

Medtech in a Minute: Stryker's Mako Deal Pays Off, a Coronavirus Battle Plan, and More

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors on Pixabay Medtech in a Minute: Stryker's Mako Deal Pays Off, a Coronavirus Battle Plan, and More
We know your time is precious so we've drilled down the three most important medtech stories from the past week. But feel free to click the headline to read beyond the blurb.

Robotic Competitors Pump up the Volume

The robotic surgery market is becoming increasingly noisy as new entrants move in and companies like Medtronic and Johnson and Johnson become more vocal about their plans in robotics. This means elongated price negoation timelines and delayed deals for Intuitive Surgical, but the market pioneer seems prepared to handle the extra noise.

We Imagine Stryker Laughing All the Way to the Bank

Back in 2013, analysts balked at the price Stryker paid to acquire Mako (a whopping $1.6 billion), but the company just reported its strongest robot quarter since launching the ever-popular robot. Globally, Stryker sold  89 Mako robots in Q4 (63 of which were U.S. sales) versus 54 in the comparable quarter a year ago.

Coronavirus Is Insanely Contagious, but FDA Has a Plan

It seems The entire world is concerned about the coronavirus, and for good reason. But have no fear U.S. readers, FDA is on the case. The agency has a strategy that will see it working with industry and international partners to diagnose, treat, mitigate, and prevent outbreaks.

Cardinal Health terminates agreement with Chinese supplier in wake of surgical gown recall

Cardinal Health terminates agreement with Chinese supplier in wake of surgical gown recall

Product recallCardinal Health announced late yesterday that it has terminated its relationship with Siyang Holymed in Suqian, China, an FDA-authorized supplier that shifted production of the OEM's surgical gowns to non-approved sites without the proper controlled environments. Unable to ensure the sterility of the gowns produced under those conditions, Cardinal Health has recalled or initiated a corrective action on 2.9 million procedure packs containing the affected gowns.

The issue first came to light in mid-January, when Cardinal Health alerted customers to potential quality issues affecting some of its surgical gowns and PreSource procedural packs containing the gowns. An FDA statement noted on Jan. 16 that “Cardinal Health recommends, and the FDA agrees, that customers should immediately discontinue use of all affected surgical gowns and PreSource procedural packs that include these surgical gowns because the manufacturer cannot provide assurance the products are sterile. The FDA is working to assess the cause and full impact of these concerns.” Yesterday, Cardinal Health publicly revealed the cause.

In its press release, Cardinal Health said that it severed ties with Siyang Holymed after learning that it had shifted production of the gowns to an unapproved site in December 2019. It’s not the first time, however, that the supplier has played fast and loose with the medical device OEM based in Dublin, OH.

In spring 2018, Cardinal Health learned that Siyang Holymed had outsourced some of its production to a non-registered, non-qualified facility. At the time, Cardinal Health conducted a quality review supported by laboratory testing and concluded there was no impact to its products. Based on the results of the quality review, the company determined a field action was not necessary, and therefore did not coordinate any such action with the FDA, said Cardinal Health.

This time around, Cardinal Health is conducting two voluntary field actions in coordination with FDA involving select Presource Procedure Packs containing gowns that were part of last week's recall of AAMI Level 3 surgical gowns. (This class of gown is intended for use in procedures with a moderate risk of exposure.) These procedure packs, also known as kits, were placed on voluntary hold at the time of the gown recall, said Cardinal Health.

Cardinal Health has initiated the following actions involving 2.9 million procedure packs manufactured between September 2018 and January 2020 that contain affected gowns:

  • A voluntary correction of 374,794 procedure packs with components separated from the affected gown by inner, sealed packaging or other packs within the sterilization pouch. These packs can be "over-labeled," allowing the components within inner, sealed packages to be used after the gown is discarded. All other components including the gowns are to be removed and discarded. Approximately 62,976 of these packs remain in Cardinal Health inventory.
  • A voluntary recall of 2,518,653 procedure packs containing gowns with components that are not separated from the affected gown by inner, sealed packaging. Those procedure packs should not be used and must be returned. Approximately 357,127 of these packs remain in Cardinal Health inventory.

Customers will receive detailed instructions for handling the affected procedure packs on or about Monday, February 3.

Cardinal Health also said that it is taking the following actions to address supply shortages:

  • Increasing production of similar and replacement products;
  • offering more protective AAMI Level 4 gowns [designed for procedures with a high risk of exposure] to help bridge the supply gap;
  • working to identify alternatives, including in many cases working with industry partners who offer comparable products; and
  • mobilizing employees from all parts of the company to work directly with healthcare providers to replace gowns and procedure packs.

Moving forward, Cardinal Health said that it is engaging third-party experts to conduct a comprehensive review of quality assurance processes and business practices.

"I apologize to patients and our customers," said Mike Kaufmann, CEO of Cardinal Health. "We understand the gravity of this situation and the disruptions to the healthcare system that will impact patient care. We are fully committed to making this right, and we are doing everything we can to ensure it never happens again."

Image: iQoncept/Adobe Stock

Friday Funny: Failed – And Expensive – Construction Projects

These projects are the real thing. Massive projects that cost way too much and served little purpose.

 

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 19 years, 17 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

Pacific Design & Manufacturing is the West coast's leading trade show for design engineers offering the latest in 3D printing, automation, and CAD/CAM software from igus, Protolabs, and Smalley and hundreds more. Register now!

 

The truth about compostable plastics

Being “green” has its rules, and they are often confusing. To quote Kermit, “It isn’t easy being green.” A big part of the problem in getting people to dispose of their waste properly is educating them on the rules.

fake vs facts

Most people believe that anything that is thrown into the blue curbside bins can be recycled. Take paper, for example. Some recyclers have stopped accepting paper because most of them are drowning in it. Composters will not accept paper that has been bleached white with chlorine, which creates dioxins that are toxic. After all, compost is used to grow things, so we don’t want toxic substances in compost. Additionally, paper with certain inks and coatings used to make it shiny and slick is not acceptable. So paper is not always recyclable, and mostly not at all when it comes to composting.

Recycling and composting have their rules. Recycled plastics, for example, must be clean (rinsed/washed out) before being placed in the recycle bin. Labels are a big problem: The recycler of plastic bottles and containers must remove the labels and adhesives by a hot water/chemical bath. Recycled bottles must have the caps/closures left on them.

Composters have the biggest problem because people are being told that certain plastic items made from bioplastic materials are “compostable,” yet most are not. Educating people is a tough task, so recently the state of Oregon published “A message from composters serving Oregon: Why we don’t want compostable packaging and serviceware.”  The message contains nine composting rules to educate consumers.

The “quality of the compost is critical to create healthy soil, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, recycle nutrients and conserve water, and it may reduce the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides,” said the message. Unfortunately, misinformation (aka “greenwashing”) from companies trying to sell their plastic products as “compostable” is causing packaging and serviceware items to end up at composting facilities. “These materials compromise our composting programs and limit many of the environmental benefits of successful composting,” said the message. The composters listed nine reasons why they don’t want compostable packaging or serviceware delivered to their facilities.

  1. These items don’t always compost. “Not all ‘certified’ compostable items will actually compost (break down) as fully or quickly as we need them to. This is because certification standards test compostability based on laboratory conditions,” not always in  “real world” environments. Thus, bits of plastics remain in the compost—something people do not want.
  2. Contamination happens. People don’t always sort “compostable” plastics from non-compostable plastics—yes, it’s tough to tell the difference. But the composters say that these materials must be removed, “either at the start (when we receive them) or at the end (as pieces of garbage are mixed in with finished compost),” which increases the composters’ operating costs and degrades their product.
  3. They hurt resale quality. “We don’t want to produce finished compost that is contaminated with fragments of packaging and serviceware, and our consumers won’t purchase contaminated material,” the composters explained. “Contamination lowers the value of our product, making it difficult and sometimes impossible to sell.”
  4. We can’t sell to organic farmers. “Farmers often use compost in the production of certified organic foods,” said the composters. “National standards prohibit the use of many different packaging materials when making compost used to grow crops certified as USDA Organic.”
  5. They may threaten human and environmental health. Chemicals in paper packaging, such as perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) to provide water and grease resistance “can transfer from compost to ground and surface waters, can be taken up by plants from compost and may have negative health impacts,” noted the message. (Here I would like to add that this is perhaps one of the best cases for using plastics for take-out food containers rather than the less eco-friendly paper.) PFAS is being phased out by some makers of paper containers, but it has not been regulated out of existence.
  6. It increases our costs and makes our job harder. “Some of us have accepted compostable packaging in the past and found that loads of compostable packaging require us to change our processes, adding water, using more energy and spending additional resources to produce finished compost,” said the composters. “Some types of compostable packaging mostly degrade into carbon dioxide and water and leave behind little of value for all of the extra effort required.”
  7. Just because something is compostable doesn’t mean it’s better for the environment. “Oregon DEQ has found that compostable serviceware often has a larger (life-time) environmental footprint than non-compostable items. For example, compostable materials may require more fossil energy use, release more greenhouse gases or result in more ecological toxins than their non-compostable counterparts, mostly due to how they’re made,” explained the composters in the message. “The research confirms what scientists already know: What materials are made of, and how they’re made, may be more significant than whether they’re composted vs. landfilled. ‘Composting’ and ‘compostable’ are not the same idea. Composting is a beneficial treatment option for organic wastes, but ‘compostable’ is not a guarantee of low impact.” (I would advise that the next time you are at a large conference or function where you are served appetizers on paper cocktail plates and given “compostable sporks” with which to eat, explain to the servers—or, better yet, the food manager—that these items are really not compostable and they would be doing more for the environment to use “recyclable” plastic plates and serviceware.)
  8. In some cases, the benefits of recycling surpass those of composting. The composters suggest that there are some cases where if an item, like paper bags, can be either recycled or composted, the better option just might be recycling, which “can provide greater overall environmental benefits than composting does.”
  9. Good intentions aren’t being realized. “Compostable items often cost more, sometimes up to five times as much as non-compostable alternatives. That’s a lot of money spent on products that might not actually help the environment—money that could be spent in more productive and beneficial ways.”

Ultimately, said the composters in their message to consumers, “we need to focus on recycling organic wastes, such as food and yard trimmings, into high-quality compost products that can be used with confidence to restore soils and conserve resources. Compostable packaging doesn’t help us to achieve these goals. We need clean feedstocks in order to produce quality compost.”

From my point of view, I say it’s high time that compostable plastics be outlawed as nothing more than “greenwashing.” Saying something is “compostable” while knowing that it really isn’t and that composting facilities won’t take it is just plain false and misleading advertising. I told one company as much when it sent me a press release about a new “compostable” plastic material that breaks down into “nutrient rich soil.” I called them out on this and asked them for the scientific proof that their plastic actually could turn into soil. I never heard back from them.

It hurts the entire plastics industry when these misleading “greenwashing” promotions are allowed to proliferate. We need to stand up for the scientific truth—not magical thinking—about the materials we produce and use in our lives every day that have so many benefits, including recyclability!

Image: Monster Ztudio/Adobe Stock

The truth about compostable plastics

The truth about compostable plastics

Being “green” has its rules, and they are often confusing. To quote Kermit, “It isn’t easy being green.” A big part of the problem in getting people to dispose of their waste properly is educating them on the rules.

fake vs facts

Most people believe that anything that is thrown into the blue curbside bins can be recycled. Take paper, for example. Some recyclers have stopped accepting paper because most of them are drowning in it. Composters will not accept paper that has been bleached white with chlorine, which creates dioxins that are toxic. After all, compost is used to grow things, so we don’t want toxic substances in compost. Additionally, paper with certain inks and coatings used to make it shiny and slick is not acceptable. So paper is not always recyclable, and mostly not at all when it comes to composting.

Recycling and composting have their rules. Recycled plastics, for example, must be clean (rinsed/washed out) before being placed in the recycle bin. Labels are a big problem: The recycler of plastic bottles and containers must remove the labels and adhesives by a hot water/chemical bath. Recycled bottles must have the caps/closures left on them.

Composters have the biggest problem because people are being told that certain plastic items made from bioplastic materials are “compostable,” yet most are not. Educating people is a tough task, so recently the state of Oregon published “A message from composters serving Oregon: Why we don’t want compostable packaging and serviceware.”  The message contains nine composting rules to educate consumers.

The “quality of the compost is critical to create healthy soil, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, recycle nutrients and conserve water, and it may reduce the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides,” said the message. Unfortunately, misinformation (aka “greenwashing”) from companies trying to sell their plastic products as “compostable” is causing packaging and serviceware items to end up at composting facilities. “These materials compromise our composting programs and limit many of the environmental benefits of successful composting,” said the message. The composters listed nine reasons why they don’t want compostable packaging or serviceware delivered to their facilities.

  1. These items don’t always compost. “Not all ‘certified’ compostable items will actually compost (break down) as fully or quickly as we need them to. This is because certification standards test compostability based on laboratory conditions,” not always in  “real world” environments. Thus, bits of plastics remain in the compost—something people do not want.
  2. Contamination happens. People don’t always sort “compostable” plastics from non-compostable plastics—yes, it’s tough to tell the difference. But the composters say that these materials must be removed, “either at the start (when we receive them) or at the end (as pieces of garbage are mixed in with finished compost),” which increases the composters’ operating costs and degrades their product.
  3. They hurt resale quality. “We don’t want to produce finished compost that is contaminated with fragments of packaging and serviceware, and our consumers won’t purchase contaminated material,” the composters explained. “Contamination lowers the value of our product, making it difficult and sometimes impossible to sell.”
  4. We can’t sell to organic farmers. “Farmers often use compost in the production of certified organic foods,” said the composters. “National standards prohibit the use of many different packaging materials when making compost used to grow crops certified as USDA Organic.”
  5. They may threaten human and environmental health. Chemicals in paper packaging, such as perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) to provide water and grease resistance “can transfer from compost to ground and surface waters, can be taken up by plants from compost and may have negative health impacts,” noted the message. (Here I would like to add that this is perhaps one of the best cases for using plastics for take-out food containers rather than the less eco-friendly paper.) PFAS is being phased out by some makers of paper containers, but it has not been regulated out of existence.
  6. It increases our costs and makes our job harder. “Some of us have accepted compostable packaging in the past and found that loads of compostable packaging require us to change our processes, adding water, using more energy and spending additional resources to produce finished compost,” said the composters. “Some types of compostable packaging mostly degrade into carbon dioxide and water and leave behind little of value for all of the extra effort required.”
  7. Just because something is compostable doesn’t mean it’s better for the environment. “Oregon DEQ has found that compostable serviceware often has a larger (life-time) environmental footprint than non-compostable items. For example, compostable materials may require more fossil energy use, release more greenhouse gases or result in more ecological toxins than their non-compostable counterparts, mostly due to how they’re made,” explained the composters in the message. “The research confirms what scientists already know: What materials are made of, and how they’re made, may be more significant than whether they’re composted vs. landfilled. ‘Composting’ and ‘compostable’ are not the same idea. Composting is a beneficial treatment option for organic wastes, but ‘compostable’ is not a guarantee of low impact.” (I would advise that the next time you are at a large conference or function where you are served appetizers on paper cocktail plates and given “compostable sporks” with which to eat, explain to the servers—or, better yet, the food manager—that these items are really not compostable and they would be doing more for the environment to use “recyclable” plastic plates and serviceware.)
  8. In some cases, the benefits of recycling surpass those of composting. The composters suggest that there are some cases where if an item, like paper bags, can be either recycled or composted, the better option just might be recycling, which “can provide greater overall environmental benefits than composting does.”
  9. Good intentions aren’t being realized. “Compostable items often cost more, sometimes up to five times as much as non-compostable alternatives. That’s a lot of money spent on products that might not actually help the environment—money that could be spent in more productive and beneficial ways.”

Ultimately, said the composters in their message to consumers, “we need to focus on recycling organic wastes, such as food and yard trimmings, into high-quality compost products that can be used with confidence to restore soils and conserve resources. Compostable packaging doesn’t help us to achieve these goals. We need clean feedstocks in order to produce quality compost.”

From my point of view, I say it’s high time that compostable plastics be outlawed as nothing more than “greenwashing.” Saying something is “compostable” while knowing that it really isn’t and that composting facilities won’t take it is just plain false and misleading advertising. I told one company as much when it sent me a press release about a new “compostable” plastic material that breaks down into “nutrient rich soil.” I called them out on this and asked them for the scientific proof that their plastic actually could turn into soil. I never heard back from them.

It hurts the entire plastics industry when these misleading “greenwashing” promotions are allowed to proliferate. We need to stand up for the scientific truth—not magical thinking—about the materials we produce and use in our lives every day that have so many benefits, including recyclability!

Image: Monster Ztudio/Adobe Stock