Image default
Business Regulation

European Bioplastics criticises biased interpretation of EEA study on biodegradable and compostable plastics.

European Bioplastics (EUBP) has issued a criticism of the new report “Biodegradable and compostable plastics – challenges and opportunities” by the European Environment Agency (EEA). The Brussels based association that represents the interests of the bioplastics industry in Europe highlights the need to acknowledge successful precedents in the deployment of these innovative materials in collaboration with a receptive community of consumers. Unfortunately, several media outlets made use of a biased interpretation of the report to draw a distorted picture of biodegradable and compostable plastics.

François de Bie, Chairman of EUBP, stated “In several respects, the EEA report is laudable in its objectives to provide information about the types of biodegradable products available, their labelling and their properties. It also accurately highlights the need to raise awareness about the different packaging solutions to ensure proper sorting and collection of waste”.

In terms of additional benefits, the EEA correctly notes that contamination with conventional plastics is an increasing challenge for compost quality and emphasises that substituting conventional plastics with certified compostable plastics can significantly help in reducing this risk. Indeed, compostable plastics are essential in this respect of recovery and recycling, since no other economically viable solutions will be available for food-contaminated plastics in the near future.

The report correctly highlights that using compostable plastic bags increases the capture rate of food waste, since consumers find them convenient and practical to use. Many municipalities and waste collectors are, therefore, already recommending or requiring the use of certified compostable plastic bags for collecting bio-waste. In agriculture, biodegradable mulch films, which help by contributing towards sustainable farming practices, are also identified as a key solution in avoiding long-term plastic accumulation in soil.

However, on the consumer side the EUBP ( @EUBioplastics )  argues that the report also casts doubt around the potential for understanding how and where bioplastics should be dealt with when it comes to end-of-life options. It neglects to reflect that all biodegradable plastics, with the exception of agricultural mulch films which are recycled in situ, are clearly intended for organic recycling. Whilst opponents of bioplastics often claim that consumers will be unable to differentiate between bioplastics intended for home or industrial composting, the evidence points to the contrary where clear labelling, communication and effective sorting are put in place. Unfortunately, however, media coverage almost exclusively focused on this single aspect. In contrast, EEA’s related assessment, that there is no evidence supporting the fear that consumers might misunderstand biodegradability or compostability claims as a ‘license to litter’, was ignored.

Although mechanical recycling provides solutions for certain applications, it is far from a “one size fits all” answer to the question of how to ensure that plastics fulfil their potential in a circular economy. In fact, the reality is more complex with multiple solutions needed in order to enable resource efficiency, as outlined in a recent report from Systemiq and the Pew Charitable Trust. In this respect, organic recycling represents unparalleled potential for diverting unavoidable food waste from landfill, facilitating the shift towards a circular economy and bringing benefits for more sustainable agriculture through the generation of high-quality compost for soil enrichment.

You might also be interested in… 

Read: European Bioplastics slams EASAC report on bio-based materials

Read: European Green Deal: Bioplastics to play a crucial role in making the deal become reality.

Read: European Commission takes aim at ‘greenwashing’ in new circular economy action plan

Read: What the oil price crash means for bioplastics

Read: Call for EU to stop subsidies for fossil fuels to help bio-based materials sector and the circular economy.

Read: Polymateria raises £15m for biodegradable bioplastics innovation 

Related posts

5 Minutes With… Christopher Sveen from UBQ Materials.

Liz Gyekye

Axion launches recycling scheme to increase the sustainability of plastic.

Dave Songer

USDA announces $21 million for research and development in the bio-economy.

Bio-Based World News Staff

Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More