Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of MRW, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Call for scrapping of NNFCC as biodegradable bag row rumbles on

A manufacturer of degradable plastic bags has called for the National Non-food Crops Centre (NNFCC) to be scrapped after it supported Tesco’s decision to drop oxo-biodegradable bags.

Symphony Environmental Technologies (SET) described the NNFCC as a “quango which should be scrapped” following comments from its head of materials, Dr John Williams, that “artificially accelerating the degradation of an oil-based plastic is neither economically or environmentally sensible”.

The company said it was “not surprised” by the the NNFCC’s comments, which allegedly promotes a competing biodegradable technology based on vegetable-derived material.

A spokesman for SET said: “This technology is now widely understood to be of very limited use and far too expensive. The NNFCC is another quango which should be scrapped.”

The company also dismissed Tesco’s allegations that the biodegradable additive made bags “weaker” than normal bags and did not contribute to recycling and re-use.

The spokesman added: “These bags were made with additive supplied by one of our competitors, and they were weak because they were not suitably made. This has nothing to do with degradability. We are supplying bags made with our d2w degradable technology to supermarkets all over the world and we do not get complaints that they are unfit for purpose. We offered to make the bags for Tesco but there was no response.”

SET has also criticised Tesco’s use of a Defra report, which found that the use of additives in petroleum-based plastics “does not improve their environmental impact and potentially gives rise to certain negative effects”, in order to substantiate the retailer’s decision.

The spokesman said: “We do not see that the report can be relevant. This report was published 18 months ago, and contained some very positive findings about our type of degradable plastic.

“The minister at the time drew unjustifiable conclusions from the report, which are currently under review by Defra on the basis of detailed scientific evidence submitted by the British Plastics Federation, proving the biodegradability, recyclability and non-toxicity of the plastic. A Life Cycle Assessment published this year by the Environment Agency has shown that plastic carrier bags are the most environmentally sustainable option for carrying goods and protecting them from contamination.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • Tesco made the right decision. The long term has to be based on reducing the use of single trip bags, promoting reuse and capturing as many that are used for recycling. Degradable bags do not contribute to that and can damage the recycling options if they contaminate the main PE stream in sufficient concentrations.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.