Bio-based materials and their disposal
The general term “bio-based” refers to raw materials that are either produced from renewable raw materials or are biodegradable. These are not necessarily mutually dependent.
Renewable raw materials
For the production of conventional plastics, the most important component is petroleum (naphtha), which can be extracted from crude oil. The alternative materials are produced from other oils or plant substances, including castor oil, cornstarch, etc.
yaweco uses a kind of plastic made of renewable raw materials for the head of the replaceable head toothbrush and for the ya’PURE toothbrush. The exact formula cannot be published, but rough details on the ingredients can be disclosed. They consist of more than 60% biopolymers based on sugar components, and also: mineral fillers, natural waxes, and biodegradable additives. The material of the filaments or bristles is made from castor oil. It is called PA 10.10.
DIN ISO 14855 determines what can be classified as biodegradable. The norm regulates a type of technical composting. It determines the exact duration and conditions (constant high temperature and organic additives) needed for a substance to completely decompose. Composting therefore also refers to a technical facility, not a natural environment such as the compost in your own home. yaweco produces the plastic cover of all toothbrush packaging with a PLA. This material is based on polylactic acid (polylactides) and is biodegradable in industrial composting facilities in accordance with DIN ISO 14855.
The bio-based plastics can and should be disposed of as plastic waste. Plastic waste is sorted and reused depending on its basic material. Currently, bio-based plastics are rarely recycled because the amounts are too small. They are then treated as general waste. Efforts are already being undertaken to recycle these plastics, but these endeavors are still in their beginnings. The more bio-based raw material ends up in plastic waste, the sooner and more likely the recycling of this material will take place. This is the official recommendation of Duales System Deutschland, the operators of Germany’s largest waste sorting system.
Normally, the formula for the different plastic components does not contain animal substances. However, animal fats are used occasionally as auxiliary and operating materials because of their various qualities. This only occurs in certain cases and in small amounts, meaning that at most traces of these substances can be found in the product.