Europolitan09 2015 GuitfreePlastics.pdf

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Marc-Henry de Jong graduated from ESB’s Spanish-German link in 2002 and is Chief
Commercial Officer and co-founder of United Biopolymers, S.A. – a technology licensing
company, which enables plastic compounders to produce next generation starch-based
Marc-Henry started his career in industry, working initially for BMW and BP, and then
switched to consulting where he delivered – both as Manager at A.T. Kearney as well as
freelancer – organisational transformations in a wide range of industries.
Thanks to his entrepreneurial drive, he owns a share in a German recruitment agency, a
small UK-based consulting firm, and now dedicates himself to help mankind “enjoy
plastics guilt-free” with his latest venture.
Marc-Henry de Jong
(IPBS 2002)

up the food chain on ingestion by other species. This
can cause DNA damage in organisms that accumulate higher concentrations, which, in turn, can lead
to cancer or physiological impairment. It can also
cause cardiac problems, skeletal deformities and neurological deficiencies. Some of the compounds are
classified as endocrine disrupters, meaning they affect hormone levels and systems in plants, animals
and even people”4.

Bioplastics to date
With today’s end-consumers attitude of “one-use and
throw-away” in the Western world only changing
slowly and millions of new consumers in the
emerging markets wanting to enjoy the convenience
of plastic, bioplastics can be the solution to overcome the above challenge.
Despite bioplastics – in one form or another – having
been already available in the market for over a decade,
it is still in its infancy, and there are a few key reasons
why it hasn’t taken off yet:

Tarnished reputation
Early technologies damaged bioplastics’ reputation, for instance first biodegradable bags
weren’t strong enough to be used for carrying
goods home.
No clear definition
One should assume that bioplastics by definition
is made of (or at least includes a large share of)
raw materials from a renewable resource and –
depending on the application – can be biodegradable,
which means there is no long-term harm to the

Lack of standard and supply
The industry players are reluctant to try out new
products on their expensive machines, and larger
plastic converters switch production only if supply
is guaranteed through multiple suppliers.
Higher price
Biodegradable plastics are 2-10x more expensive
than conventional plastic (depending on the chosen
technology5) – though taking into account the
hidden costs of conventional plastic, such as waste
collection, waste disposal, and clean-up costs,
biodegradable plastics become competitive.
Missing legislative framework / support
For a while legislators were pushing so-called
“oxo-degradable” products as bioplastics, which
in essence are conventional plastics with some
additives that help degrade the plastic faster –
though now deemed to be even more harmful for
the environment.

Legislative intervention
The EU has identified the negative environmental
impact of plastics, mainly packaging. Despite major
recycling efforts over the last years, a staggering
114 million tonnes – or 46.3% – of all plastics still
end-up in landfill6 and a further 7.8 million tonnes –
or 3.2% – pollute our oceans7. The European Commission realised that change isn’t happening fast
enough, and therefore intervened with both the
“2020 Climate and energy package” in 2009 as well
as its “Directive 94/62/EC on Packaging and Packaging
Waste” as recently as in 2014.
The EU wants to make the use of raw materials more
efficient, encourage recycling and create a more circular economy – hence minimising any environmenAlumni Erfahrungen