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Oxo-biodegradable plastics industry under fire

European Bioplasticss wish to distance itself from the oxo-biodegradable plastics industry has sparked criticism from some in the oxo-biodegradable industry.

In a position paper launched on 22 July, the oxo-biodegradable industry -  according to trade association European Bioplastics - has failed to live up to international standards that substantiate the industrys claims on biodegradation and compostability.

European Bioplastics chairman Andy Sweetman said: We just cannot allow that the public, who are generally very sensitive to ecological issues, be further confused by claims on biodegradability and compostability resulting from conflicting approaches. If certain products that claim to be biodegradable or compostable are proven not to fulfil acknowledged standards, this is liable to impact negatively on our own members products, even though they do fully comply.

The position paper further stated that under all circumstances products carrying its compostability mark of a seedling should avoid being associated with oxo-biodegradable products.

However, oxo-biodegradable plastics manufacturer Symphony has dismissed this position paper calling it both ill-founded and irresponsible.

Defending claims that the material does not have a standard specification, Symphony highlighted that it has an American Standard, which has tested for degradability, biodegradability and non-eco-toxicity.

In the position paper, Mr Sweetman mentioned European Bioplasticss strong opposition to the oxo-biodegradable plastics industry wanting to extend the timeframes for materials to decompose in the criteria of standard EN13432. He said: It would not have been in the public or the composting industrys interest to have compromised the strict criteria of EN13432, which ensures the materials are fit for purpose.

Replying to this, a statement from Symphony said: In fact, [European Bioplastics] fought to prevent the amendment of EN13432 because it has a commercial interest against a European Standard with tests appropriate to oxo-bio. Composting is not the same as biodegradation in the environment it is an artificial process operated according to a much shorter timescale than the processes of nature.

It continued: European Bioplastics is the lobby for hydro-biodegradable or compostable plastics. It is not surprising that they are attacking oxo-biodegradable plastic, which is a much superior product and a strong competitor for their market-share.

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