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Trade body to have its say in Brussels bioplastics debate

Last updated on 23-May-2011 at 13:58 GMT2011-05-23T13:58:20Z

A leading bioplastics trade body in Europe has welcomed the chance to contribute to a public consultation over the need to clarify European definitions over biodegradable and compostable plastics.

European Bioplastics told it is assembling a task force to make its views known to the European Commission over the issue.

Last week Brussels said it was seeking views on proposals to tighten up distinctions between the two terms in a bid to prevent the public being misled and boost environmental protection.

It suggested that more legislation could be necessary to cut down on industry players making unproven eco-claims about their products.

The current directive “doesn't allow for a clear distinction between biodegradable products that should biodegrade in natural conditions in the environment, and compostable products that only biodegrade in industrial composting facilities,” said the EC.

The industry body said: “European Bioplastics is in contact with DG Environment and is aware of the public consultation. We welcome the opportunity to clarify the definition concerning biodegradability and compostability of plastics in the European legislative framework.”

It added: “An internal ad-hoc task force is going to be established as soon as possible to draft the formal input of European Bioplastics to the European Commission.”

EC concerns

Under Annexe II of the 1994 Packaging Directive biodegradable packaging waste must be capable of “undergoing physical, chemical, thermal or biological decomposition such that most of the finished compost ultimately decomposes into carbon dioxide, biomass and water”.

But the EC summed up its concerns over the present system as: “In the current practice, a packaging product is acknowledged to be biodegradable if it biodegrades in composting industrial facilities in controlled conditions. However, a product that is compostable in an industrial facility will not necessarily biodegrade in natural conditions in the environment.”

“Clear legislative provisions are necessary to make a distinction between compostable products (either industrial composting or home composting) and biodegradable products that should biodegrade in natural conditions in the environment,” said the EC.