11 Juli 2011

EU Standard for plastic litter published

Advertising packaging products as biodegradable can be misleading for consumers

British Standards Institution (BSI) has published the BS8472 for plastic litter – the first and only Standard in Europe for biodegradability of plastic litter in the environment. This comes as a major breakthrough for d2w oxo-biodegradable plastics in Europe and around the world. BS8472 is the result of more than five years work in the Committees of the BSI.

For the first time the EU commission have expressly recognized the problem of plastic litter in the environment, which d2w is designed to address. In their Consultation Document on Plastics Bags, the Commission said, “Plastic carrier bags are packaging products with a short lifespan that due to their low weight and small size, can easily escape the waste management flows and be conveyed to the sea by rain, drains and rivers.

Once in the environment, plastic bags can last for hundreds of years. Because they last so long, every year the number of plastic bags in the litter stream increases. In the current practice, a packaging product is acknowledged to be biodegradable if it biodegrades in industrial composting facilities in controlled conditions. However, a product that is compostable in an industrial facility will not necessarily biodegrade in natural conditions in the environment.”

The Commission made the important point that “Advertising a packaging product as biodegradable when in fact it will not biodegrade in natural conditions can be misleading for the consumer and can contribute to the proliferation of littering of products that will persist in the environment.” The Commission also said “The current legislative provisions do not allow for a clear distinction between biodegradability and compostability” – highlighting the need for a Standard for oxo-biodegradable plastic, which has now been published as BS8472.

The British Plastics Federation fully supports the environmental benefits of using oxo-biodegradable plastics as a means of eliminating plastic litter.

Save-the Plastic Bag: It is inevitable that further legislation will be introduced by governments against plastic bags. Supermarkets and large users of disposable plastics such as shopping bags, chicken bags, bread bags, shrink wrap etc should pre-empt any such legislation by moving to oxo-biodegradable plastics without delay.

Source: Supermarket.Co.Za., 2011-07-11.

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