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Bioplastic manufacturer hails carrier bag tests

The Italian manufacturer of biodegradable polymers is claiming that research proves its carrier bags degrade completely when processed in anaerobic digestion (AD) plants.

Tests commissioned by Novamont were carried out by the IGlux Witzenhausen consultancy and researchers Witzenhausen-Institut.

Researchers used biodegradable bags made from the company’s patented Mater-bi bioplastic material. Novamont claims the material is biodegradable and compostable according to EU standard EN 13432.

AD plants operated by four German companies were involved: Kompogas, Thoeni, Bekon and WTT. The bags were monitored during pre-treatment, AD, post-composting and maturation at each plant.

“Degradation began during the anaerobic stage and was completed during composting. In total the process took between five and ten weeks, depending on the plant,” Novamont said in a statement.

“No Mater-bi residue was found in any of the samples examined at the end of the test, demonstrating that it had completely degraded in all four plants.”

Novamont said the test was entirely successful, with complete degradation of the bags within the time normally taken for the process at all four plants.

The research will be ammunition for those backing biodegradable plastics because they argue they should be exempt from the 5p charge for single-use carrier bags in the UK.

The results of research commissioned by Defra into the effectiveness of biodegradable polymers is long overdue. Former resource minister Rory Stewart said in April 2016 that results would be available by the end of last year.

Manufacturers of biodegradable bags have lobbied hard for an exemption. But Defra said that would be possible only if a suitable material was identified and techniques to avoid them contaminating the plastic waste stream were found.

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