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Benefit of bioplastics questioned by industry - COMMENT UPDATE

Following the recent meeting on packaging waste between Local Environment Minister Ben Bradshaw and the UKs top retailers, the merit of bioplastics or compostable plastics has been called into question.

Addressing the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee conference last week, Recoup project manager Sarah Dandy warned the audience that bioplastics could have a negative impact on plastics recycling as a whole. With compostable plastic packaging made from degradable starch-based materials and traditional plastics from oil-based ones, the fear is that bioplastics will increasingly find their way into the plastics recycling stream impacting on quality and un-doing the work done on raising public plastics recycling.

Dandy said the issue of how to keep bioplastics separate from oil-based plastics would need to be addressed, in order to retain a market value for the material.

The contribution of the biodegradable packaging material was also raised last week by British Plastics Federation (BPF) director general Peter Davis. Biodegradable plastics represent an important innovation with a part to play, but their own environmental footprint also needs to be fully understood, he said.

The BPF has called for a meeting with Bradshaw following his advice that consumers leave over-packaging at the checkout. It is concerned that his focus on waste and minimisation in consumer packaging does not do justice to the contribution that plastics packaging makes, and it wants to play a key part in proposed round table discussions to address the packaging issue.
Davis said: The fact is plastic packaging is recyclable, and indeed is recycled.

He added that in order to divert waste from landfill, all the options needed to be considered including increased recycling and energy-from-waste capacity.
 
Comment
11/12/06: Why not have the best of both worlds? Oxo-biodegradable plastics are recyclable along with other polyolefin wastes but they may also be recovered by composting as required
Posted by Professor Gerald Scott

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