Oxo-biodegradable specialist Symphony Environmental Technologies has hit back against criticism surrounding the viability of d2w oxo-biodegradable plastics in the recycling process.
The British Plastics Federation (BPF) slammed a report which claimed d2w oxo-biodegradable plastics had no material effect on the recycling process of plastic products and said recyclers remained “very concerned” about such material getting into the system.
The report by the Transfercenter fur Kunststofftechnik in Austria (TCKT), which was commissioned by Symphony, found that recyclate from oxo-biodegradable plastic could safely be used in the manufacture of thick cross-section plastic products intended for long term use outdoors.
However the BPF's head of public and industrial affairs Francisco Morcillo, said the argument that oxo-biodegradables are the solution to litter was “flawed”.
He said: “The report refers to recyclate containing oxo-biodegradable products being used in the manufacture of thick cross-section plastic products intended for long-term use outdoors.
“However, due to the structure of the UK and European plastics recycling industry, there is no way to be certain that the recyclate is only going to be used in such products.
“Previous reports have also looked at specific uses of film containing oxo-biodegradables and not addressed the scope of potential products, which include films with long-term uses such as damp proof membranes.”
Morcillo added: “Oxo-biodegradable plastics will not degrade for two to five years and that is plenty of time for them to find their way into our oceans and rivers.
“There is also the danger that degradable products could even encourage littering.”
In response, Symphony insisted that TCKT had also considered products made from plastic film in its report, and found no negative effects. The firm said: “a further consideration is the thickness of the material, which limits the oxygen penetration into the plastic, and therefore reduces the effect of the pro-degradant on the bulk material. Therefore the thicker the material the less susceptible it will be to oxo-degradation.”
It also denied it had claimed oxo-biodegradable plastics were a solution to littering. “It is obvious to most people that plastic which degrades in a few months after being discarded is better for the environment than plastic which lies or floats around for decades before degrading.”
However Recoup chief executive Stuart Foster backed the BPF's stance: “Unfortunately the most recent report funded by the oxo-degradable producers has not removed the concerns of the recycling industry by only addressing one specific type of product, and fundamental issues which have been highlighted and debated over a number of years remain.”
While Peter Clayson, general manager for external affairs and business development at recycler DS Smith, said: “DS Smith shares the BPF's concern about the recyclability of oxo-biodegradable plastic and the impact any confusion about their inclusion in recyclate streams could have on already fragile plastic markets.”