Call for Ban of Oxo-degradable Plastics

Call for Ban of Oxo-degradable Plastics

Earlier this week, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's New Plastics Economy initiative published a statement, endorsed by over 150 organisations from around the world, calling for a ban on the production and use of oxo-degradable plastics.

Not to be confused with compostable plastics which can be safely biodegraded using industrial composting processes, oxo-degradable plastics are standard plastics which have additives to help them break down, usually when in the presence of light and oxygen. Often described and seen in the past as an environmentally friendly alternative to standard plastics, studies in recent years have concluded that they are not environmentally friendly and are in fact often very harmful. Even when disposed of in ways which promote their degradation, the process frequently results in the creation of microplastics form the fragments, which we know from multiple studies and reports to be incredibly harmful to the natural environment.

France led the way on this issue with a nationwide ban on oxo-degradable plastics introduced in 2015. In the UK retailers Tesco and the Co-operative stopped using these plastics in their bags, and whilst Spain has announced plans to ban the sale of lightweight oxo-degradable bags, signatories to this latest statment - including M&S, PepsiCo, Unilever, NGOs and government representatives - believe wider action is required, and that in line with the principles of a circular economy, innovation to design out waste should be supported and the use of materials such as oxo-degradable plastics should be discontinued.

Sources: New Plastics Economy, European Bioplastics

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