A Plastic-free Future with Organic Bags Made in Germany
Interview on sustainability with Uwe Friebel, Founder of
Mr. Friebel, tell us a bit more about FRIEBWERK and your brand BIOvative PRODUCTS.
In the past, I was surprised every day how much plastic waste a family of four can produce. This awareness and the need to educate our children that every single person has to make a contribution to a more environmentally and climate-friendly future have led us to think one step further. How can we reduce plastic waste and live more consciously and sustainably, not only in our family? So we decided to found FRIEBWERK in 2016. With our brand BIOvative PRODUCTS, we now supply companies from various sectors, the public sector and private households across Europe with organic bags. In addition, we also offer our customers fruit/vegetable organic bags for fresh food counters and ToGo shops on request.
But we are also committed to regions where "plastic-free" is not yet a topic. For example, we support the Indonesian „Support A Local" project free of charge with our bags and have thus ensured that less plastic bags have been used for rice deliveries for several months.
What do you tell people who are sceptical about the sustainability of organic bags? What is sustainable about your bags?
There are certainly sceptics - take the duration of the composting process. The 12 weeks required by DIN CERTCO EN13432 are far too long for modern composting plants. This leads to some municipalities not allowing the use of organic waste bags in their organic bins. However, it must be added that EN13432 refers to the maximum thickness of the bags. This, however, is significantly higher than that of the organic waste bags used in Germany. Unfortunately, critics always refer to the 12 weeks, although the bags with thicknesses of 0.015mm to 0.035mm are significantly thinner and therefore decompose faster. This is confirmed by various practical tests in Germany.
Irrespective of this, we are always working on improving our products. We are currently striving for DINplus certification, which requires compostability in only 6 weeks. Our BIOvative PRODUCTS bags already meet these future requirements. A special pattern will make it easier for disposal service providers to identify these bags in the future. It goes without saying that our bags have the Compost INDUSTRIAL and Compost HOME certification from TÜV Austria.
Another point is that EN13432 certified organic bags are free of microplastics. They dissolve in the industrial composting plant into the components biomass, CO² and water. Thus, all BIOvative PRODUCTS bags leave no harmful substances behind after usage and become part of the waste cycling process. Any bag becomes compost, which is used as fertiliser for plants in agriculture. Among other things, plants from which starch is extracted as a raw material for biobased products such as our organic bags.
Speaking of raw materials - you produce in Germany - but where do you get your raw materials from?
That's right - Made in Germany - with renewable raw materials from Europe. The majority of organic bags on the European market come from Asia. That's also how our journey began. However, the idea of moving production to Germany has always been on my agenda. After all, what is sustainable about bringing environmentally friendly goods from China by sea or air freight? Compared to the last few years, we already make our contribution to the environment by saving several tonnes of CO2 by not using international transport routes over different continents. We double this effect by supporting climate projects for the same amount.
How do you outstand from other competitors? What are the advantages of BIOvative PRODUCTS bags?
The advantage of our organic bags is, among other things, the water vapour barrier. Tests have shown that up to 10 times less moisture passes through our bags than compared with products on the market. This not only means that they can be used for a longer period of time, but also that less thick material can be used - of course in consideration of the required resistance. It leads to the reduction of used raw materials, to savings in deliveries followed by CO2 reduction, etc.
However, not only the quality of our organic bags, but also making the entire value chain as climate-neutral as possible is important to us and plays a significant role in the choice of our partners. State-of-the-art production facilities with green electricity, a combined heat and power plant and water-based printing inks are just some of the building blocks.
Another advantage of producing in Germany is the high proportion of renewable raw materials, which is also stipulated in the German Biowaste Ordinance (BioAbfV) and which our bags comply with. With products from Asia, you hardly achieve these specifications.
What are your plans for 2021?
We are currently in the process of implementing further sizes of our organic bags. In addition, we are working with partners on further product ideas in the area of sustainability. We focus on customised production as well as the constant need to improve our products and the necessity to comply with legal requirements. In this respect, we are guided by the recommendations of the "The Association for Compostable Products" among others.
We also want to further strengthen our support for sustainable projects.