A group of major European plastics producers have promised to abide by an internationally recognised standard when manufacturing biodegradable plastics, to minimise their environmental impact.
Germany's BASF, the USA's Cargill Dow, Italy's Novamont and the Netherlands' Rodenburg Biopolymers and others, supplying 90% of the EU biodegradable plastics market, made the pledge in a voluntary agreement with the European Commission.
They have promised for 10 years to follow the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) standard on biodegradability and compostability EN 14046 when making biodegradable packaging, waste bags, hygiene products and semi-finished goods.
This insists such plastics biodegrade by 90% within 180 days and disintegrate by 90% in three months. The agreement has been welcomed by the Commission as enlightened self-regulation, in a policy area currently bereft of EU legislation.
EU industry Commissioner Günter Verheugen said: "We are actively encouraging such initiatives by the private sector. They are an alternative to "hard" legislation."