Symphony Environmental Technologies and Symphony Environmental, UK-based companies that produce oxo-degradable plastics using a proprietary d2w technology, had sought to annul the act at the European General Court. The case was heard in March 2023.
Symphony claims Article 5 is ‘unlawful’ and argued that it does not apply to its d2w technology. It further claimed that ‘the prohibition unlawfully fails to conform with the requirements of proportionality, equal treatment and good administration’. The company says its technology was invented to reduce plastic pollution by causing the plastic to biodegrade rapidly. It claims to ‘leave no microplastics or harmful residues’ if the plastic escapes into the open environment, particularly to oceans.
The Court has dismissed Symphony’s action, ruling that ‘the European legislature did not make a manifest error when it adopted a prohibition in line with the objective of protecting the environment and human health’.
“According to the scientific studies available when the directive was adopted, the level of biodegradation of [plastic containing a pro-oxidant additive] is low to non-existent in an open environment, in landfill or in the marine environment,” the Court said in a press statement.
“In addition, plastic containing a pro-oxidant additive is not suitable for any form of composting. Lastly, recycling such plastic is problematic since the technologies available do not allow reprocessors to identify plastic containing a pro-oxidant additive and to sort it from conventional plastic.”
“The General Court also observes that the prohibition on placing on the market of products made from plastic containing a pro-oxidant additive does not infringe the principle of proportionality. That prohibition is in line with the 2019 directive’s objective of protecting the environment and human health.”
“Finally, the prohibition in question does not infringe the principle of equal treatment, since products made from plastic containing a pro-oxidant additive are not in a situation comparable with products made from conventional plastic. The more rapid fragmentation of plastic containing a pro-oxidant additive can have an increased negative impact on the environment since its biodegradation is concentrated over a shorter period. Furthermore, products made from plastic containing a pro-oxidant additive and those made from compostable plastic are not in a comparable situation,” the Court concluded.
Symphony will be able to appeal the decision within two months and 10 days of notification of the decision.
Sustainable Plastics will update this article with a reaction from Symphony when it becomes available.