22 July 2019 by Lucy Pegg

Government consults on bio-plastics

A government consultation will seek evidence to help develop standards for biodegradable, compostable and bio-based plastics.

Defra and the department for business, energy and industrial strategy are seeking expert evidence on the sustainability of bio-based and biodegradable plastics in comparison with conventional plastic materials.

The government has opened a consultation on bio-plastics, such as compostable plastic carrier bags

They will also consider views on existing plastic degradation standards and how they could be promoted without adverse effect, as well as looking at how standards for biodegradable plastics will be designed to ensure they fully biodegrade in a reasonable time frame.

The consultation document said: “At this stage there are no proposals on which we are seeking comments and no specific implications for any parties.

“We hope that this call for evidence will help provide us with information to help us make decisions on possible future actions.”

The information gathered from the evidence will be used to build up a more comprehensive view on the demand, implications and benefits of using bio-plastics.

It will inform policy around clean growth, the circular economy and environmental protection, as well as ensuring that messages given to citizens about waste are clear and helpful.

The consultation was originally promised in the Resources and Waste strategy which was published in December 2018.

Concerns

As bio-plastics become more commonplace there are still concerns about their impact.

“We hope that this call for evidence will help provide us with information to help us make decisions on possible future actions.”

Defra

The Resources and Waste Strategy states that the government is concerned that without official standards claims about the bio-degradability of plastics cannot be verified.

Disposing of bio-plastics in the wrong waste stream can also increase contamination and the costs attached to this.

The strategy also acknowledges the need for further research into the sustainability of bio-plastics, which are made from plant based sources such as starch or lignin. The document questions whether bio-plastics will be more sustainable if manufactured from plant waste rather than from plants that would otherwise have been used for food production.

The consultation is seeking opinion from across academia and industry, as well as looking for opinion from retailers, NGOs and others.

The consultation focuses on six areas; bio-based plastics, biodegradable plastics, compostable plastics, existing and potential biodegradability standards, certification and labelling and impacts upon waste processing.

It will close on October 14 and a response should be published within 12 weeks of the closing date.

Related Links
Standards for biodegradable, compostable and bio-based plastics: call for evidence

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