New anti-plastic alternatives becomes new “Corona virus”​ for environment and hygiene safety

Rimantas Damanskis, expert in plastics sector and circular economy, member of LINPRA board, shares his views on today’s relevant topic – Plastics VS Alternatives for plastics.

“Public events without plastic, reusable cups, reusable food packaging, change with something, but not plastic” – today, became main headline of every environmentalist agenda.

“Sustainability, carbon footprint, NO one way, just reusable” and many other slogans heard today from European commission down to Vilnius “Kaziuko muge” (Public Spring market)

Business newspaper publish headlines “First event without plastics“, “Follow example”

It was proudly announced that new “sustainable” solutions were found and new sugar cane food packaging replacement were used by all traders even it cost 3 times more. but brings “real value” to environment and hygiene. Traders found sustainable alternatives for food.

Politicians announce that Lithuanian joined European Plastic Pact and will go to reduce single serve packaging with reusable or will go to replace plastic with another “, much better” and alternative solutions which today flows to the market without any control or regulations.

Reality is much different and today is not clear who will take responsibility about not controlled flow of new materials that are not hygiene safe but also do not belong to any recycling stream.

Newest research in Germany and Belgium shows that new alternatives of sugar cane packaging contains formaldehyde and cannot contact with food at all. Society was warned to avoid using that “new material” packaging at all. Laminates appears in the market which look like paper but laminated with plastic eliminates possibility to recycle. Local petrol stations proudly announce about paper cups but they forgot to mention that they are covered with PE plastic in order to keep temperature and to separate these layers in during recycling is impossible.

The current market situation sees retailers and politicians and food companies pushing packaging manufacturers to supply materials alternative to plastic packaging, which are often presented as “sustainable” as they utilize components derived from natural sources. Sugar cane, bamboo fibres, leaves and other plant derived products are increasingly used in these products, however, as most of them do not possess sufficient size stability, use of binders becomes necessary to maintain shape and minimum mechanical properties of the final articles.

Common binders consist of melamine-formaldehyde resins, and the final product would be constituted of a fibre / resin compound. The regulatory status of these articles would of course depend on the composition, and may indeed be very variable depending on such composition.

Recent studies carried out by the German BfR (1) have demonstrated that these articles are not necessarily suitable for food contact applications, in particular for repeated use articles such as cups, bowls and other reusable containers due to high migration of the monomers, in particular formaldehyde (that is a recognized class 1 carcinogen).

 Untreated wood flour and fibres used in these articles are currently allowed as plastic additives for manufacturing of food contact articles in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004 (FCM N. 96). They were included in the list of additives based on the assumption of inertness. However no toxicological evaluation underlying the inclusion of this entry in the positive list is available, and EFSA was recently requested by the EU Commission to re-evaluate the substances. EFSA concluded that there is insufficient information to support that the current authorisation of wood flour and fibres is still in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004 (2). EFSA suggested a case by case approach to safety determination of the articles containing the concerned substances.

Hygiene specialist strongly recommend to use “single use” face masks and if possible single use packaging in public places and hospitals to reduce Corona virus threat when on other hand politicians pressing retailers to promote reusable solutions or replace hygienically approved and recyclable plastic packaging solutions by formaldehyde filled or non-recyclable alternatives with become a real threat for environment. But food packaging is exactly the same as face mask, who can guarantee hygiene if it is reusable or washable. It should be a must in public areas and hospitals to use single use items in order to secure antivirus and hygiene safety. Everybody agrees that these materials should be part of circular economy and meet European hygiene requirements.

I strongly recommend to read new real fact based publication about plastics impact to environment before making solutions for sustainable future


Europe’s technology industries at the heart of a renewed EU: Orgalim launches industry vision ahead of 2019 elections

Orgalim – Europe’s Technology Industries – has launched ‘2030: an industry vision for a renewed Europe’. Aimed at European policymakers ahead of the EU elections in May 2019, the campaign advocates a proactive policy agenda to support European technology companies in shaping a future that’s good for the EU’s economy and society.

“Despite the challenges ahead, this is a time of immense opportunity,” explains Malte Lohan, Orgalim Director General. “Our vision for 2030 is of a Europe where innovation drives competitiveness, a strong industry spreads prosperity, and technology responds to citizens’ needs – improving quality of life while enabling the transition to a greener, cleaner future for our planet.”

The technology sectors represented by Orgalim comprise Europe’s largest industrial branch, directly employing 11 million people. A global industrial powerhouse, these industries have been growing consistently ahead of the wider EU economy and account for a third of Europe’s manufactured exports. As such, Orgalim’s vision marks an important contribution to the ongoing debate on the future of Europe. The campaign makes a number of concrete recommendations centred around three calls to action:

• Embrace the innovation-led transformation of European industry (action areas: AI, cybersecurity, data framework, network infrastructure including 5G)
• Enable European industry’s long-term global leadership (action areas: open, rules-based trade, EU investment and R&I programmes, Internal Market framework, agile regulatory approaches)
• Transform societal challenges into future drivers of prosperity (action areas: low-carbon and energy transition, sustainable resource use, sustainable and connected mobility and buildings, education and training for a digitalised world of work)

Orgalim will be promoting these messages widely in the months ahead. “At this crucial moment, we need decisive political leadership to unlock Europe’s future drivers of prosperity, sustainability and wellbeing,” concludes Malte Lohan. “The time to act is now – and our industries stand ready to play their part.”

More information – on the renewed Orgalim webpage HERE.

Six Lithuanian companies listed in “Deloitte” ranking

Deloitte, an audit and business consulting company, announced their compiled “Technology Fast 50” ranking, which includes even six Lithuanian companies. In Central Europe, Lithuania is the only country with just 2.8 million inhabitants and with even six companies included in the ranking. This is a significant result, which is a clear demonstration of Lithuania’s leadership in the region. Lithuanian companies, included in the ranking: „Deeper“, „Good one“, „Invenis“, „TV žaidimai“, „Adeo Web“ and „TeleSoftas“.

Full article published online – DELFI M360.

“The AHK can be a mentor for vocational training in Lithuania”

Interview with LINPRA director Gintaras Vilda for the AHK Balt published business magazine “AHKbalt aktuell”. Read full journal online:

Like in Germany, the manufacturing industry in Lithuania is one of its driving forces. Training for qualifications in technical professions is essential. For this reason, the Engineering Industries Association of Lithuania (LINPRA) is advocating vocational training in line with the German model, as Director Gintaras Vilda explains in an interview with AHK Balt aktuell.

 What do you think about the current situation of vocational training in Lithuania?

The number of people starting at vocational training institutions this year indicates a marked positive shift. We’re extremely happy with the great popularity that engineering, manufacturing and industrial professions are already enjoying – they are gaining the day in terms of pupils’ career aspirations this year. However, we’re still seeing just how important it is to promote and standardise dual vocational training in Lithuania. This type of training is most effective and helps to supply the economy with highly qualified workers over the long term.

What do companies need to take into account when offering vocational training?

The cornerstone of an effective apprenticeship for employers is having a certain sense of responsibility. This is the only way they’ll feel the sense of duty necessary to ensure the training process is successful and play a hands-on role in vocational training. Employers will then be in the position to help make decisions on how the vocational training network can be managed effectively, how professional standards can be better integrated and how training schemes that meet industry expectations can be implemented.

You travelled to Germany a few months ago to find out about the dual training system following an invitation from the German Embassy. How are Germany and Lithuania different?

 In Germany, the companies themselves are more closely involved in vocational training than in Lithuania. Not only do they train the young people, they also pay them for the whole period. They therefore support a young person in two ways, but they also help themselves by passing specific knowledge onto their up-and-coming talent. In Lithuania, people have had the ideas for this system but no suitable model has been found or, rather, no fitting framework. And then there’s the fact that dual training has a long history in Germany and forms an integral part of its education culture.

How would you rate the role played by the Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Germany compared to Lithuania?

 The role is very important! The Chambers of Industry and Commerce – IHKs – are essential partners for vocational training in Germany. They act as intermediaries between the companies and schools and set the various careers that can be learned. With these standards, the IHKs ensure an even and comparable level of quality for all the training pathways in the exams that they set. The “IHKcertified” tag is a seal of quality. I think that, particularly in Lithuania too, there should be a more rigorous assessment of whether the companies are actually prepared – and by that I mean qualified and equipped – to provide training. Uniform standards need to be put in place for training content and the trainers have to have the necessary skills. This is the only way to ensure that the dual training is high-quality. I can envisage Lithuanian associations such as LINPRA and the German Baltic Chamber of Commerce – AHK – working together to define these standards and roll them out nationwide in the future.

A new Lithuanian Education Act is currently being prepared. In what ways can Lithuania learn from Germany in this process?

Lithuanian legislation definitely needs to set out what qualities companies have to bring to the table before they can begin to provide training. The new law will be able to establish the model and framework that I mentioned earlier, which will allow vocational training in the country to meet the required quality standard. The law must establish what content the training is to teach so that various different companies can provide training independently from one another. This is the only way to guarantee that a mechatronics engineer trained in Kaunas can work in a company in Klaipėda or Marijampole without any issues, for example.

The AHK is a global mediator for dual training. Where do you see potential in the cooperation for Lithuania?

 I think that the AHK can be a mentor for vocational training in Lithuania. It is important to always consider the characteristics of the Lithuanian job market, its companies and its education system. At the same time, the AHK contributes lessons learned from Germany and the rest of the world. This can only be beneficial to us and help us develop the best for Lithuania through our joint efforts.