The European Commission has identified marine litter as one of the main threats to the environment. In 2008, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive came into force. The Directive aims to achieve a Good Environmental Status (GES) for the EU’s marine waters by 2020 and to protect the resource base on which marine-related economic and many social activities depend. This includes the provision that marine litter does not cause harm.
The largest share of marine litter consists of plastics, which can pose a threat to living organisms, especially due to ingestion or entanglement. Besides inefficient waste management, there are societal factors i.e. the careless disposal of waste in the environment also contribute to (marine) littering. This issue needs to be approached with educative and informative measures raising awareness about responsible disposal and recycling. Littering of any waste either on land nor at sea – including all varieties of plastics – is unacceptable.
Sometimes, biodegradable or compostable plastics are regarded as a solution for marine littering. However, there is currently no international standard available, which appropriately describes the biodegradation of plastics in the marine environment. A number of standardisation projects are in progress, e.g. at ISO and ASTM level.
In order that our industry will be enabled to make accountable statements about biodegradable plastics and their possible role concerning marine litter, European Bioplastics calls for the development of a standard on how to measure marine biodegradation in line with respective research activities in the field of plastics in the marine environment.
The full EuBP Position Paper on Bioplastics and Marine Littering is available for download at the EuBP-website: http://en.european-bioplastics.org/multimedia/.