The British Plastics Federation (BPF) has rubbished 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, which has been backed by oxo-biodegradable specialist Symphony Environmental Technologies, 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. Such products would include plastic lumber, garden and municipal furniture, and signage posts.
Symphony Environmental Technologies said it was “pleased to announce the publication of yet another report confirming that d2w oxo-biodegradable (controlled-life) plastics have no material effect on the recycling process or on the recycled plastic products”.
Symphony added: “The purpose of oxo-biodegradable plastics is that they will biodegrade if they get into the open environment as litter, and will not lie or float around for decades. During their useful life they are just as strong as conventional plastics, and can be recycled if collected.
“The same cannot be said of hydro – sometimes called compostable or bio-based – plastics, because they cannot be recycled with conventional or oxo-biodegradable plastic without detriment to the resulting products, and they are tested to biodegrade in the special conditions found in an industrial composting unit, not in the open environment.”
However the BPF's head of public and industrial affairs Francisco Morcillo, said that recyclers “remain very concerned” and the argument that oxo-biodegradables are the solution to litter was “flawed”.
He added: “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.
“It is very important to understand that the quality of recyclate is the top priority for recyclers and even the perception that these materials could find their way into the recycling stream could undermine the reputation and the integrity of this sector.
“In addition, the argument that oxo-biodegradables are the solution to litter is flawed. 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.”