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OPA challenges Defra on biodegradable plastics contract award

An association of biodegradable polymer producers has contested the awarding of a Defra research contract on biodegradable plastics bags to two UK companies.

The tender “Biodegradable Plastic Carrier Bags: Solutions Through Innovation” closed on 11 December.

On 9 Jan, in a written answer to House of Commons questions, waste minister Dan Rogerson said that two companies had been awarded contracts for the research, and would complete their feasibility studies by April.

A spokesperson for Defra said she was not able to provide the names of the two companies because the contracts had not been signed yet.

Michael Stephen, chairman of the Oxo-biodegradable Plastics Association (OPA), said he knew who the companies were and challenged Defra’s decision. He also said OPA would like to know who Defra had appointed as assessors for the tender.

He expressed doubts on whether the two companies had enough expertise with biodegradable polymers.

He said a consortium consisting of Europackaging, Symphony Environmental and Nottingham University had submitted an unsuccessful tender.

Stephen is commercial director and deputy chairman of Symphony Environmental Technologies plc, and chairman of its subsidiary companies, Symphony Environmental and Symphony Recycling Technologies.

“The combined expertise of Europackaging, Symphony and Nottingham University is exactly what is required for this project,” he claimed.

He added OPA would consider asking “the courts to rule on this matter” if a contract was awarded to the two companies.

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