Symphony Environmental Technologies has reacted to the European General Court’s judgement of Jan. 31, endorsing a prohibition of placing oxo-degradable plastic on the market, as set out by Article 5 of the Single-use Plastics Directive.
The UK-based company said whilst the judgement dismissed its claim for damages, it ‘did not alter our legal position in relation to Article 5 of the Single Use Plastics Directive 2019/904’.
“The conclusion is that plastics products made with our biodegradable d2w technology are not banned in the EU,” Symphony said.
At the heart of Symphony’s push back in the definition of ‘oxo-degradable’ and ‘oxo-biodegradable’ plastics.
Article 5 prohibits the placing on the market of single-use plastics products and products made from oxo-degradable plastic. The Directive also covers products made from oxo-degradable plastic ‘as that type of plastic does not properly biodegrade and thus contributes to microplastic pollution in the environment, is not compostable, negatively affects the recycling of conventional plastic and fails to deliver a proven environmental benefit’ (point 15 of the Directive).
According to Symphony, however, products made with its d2w technology are oxo-biodegradable, not oxo-degradable. Therefore, it claims, they do not fall within the scope of Article 5.
“The court did not explain the wording of the Directive, and cited the CEN definition TR15351 which shows that oxo-degradable and oxo-biodegradable plastic are different materials,” the company claimed in a statement.
Oxo-degradation is defined by CEN (the European Standards authority) in TR15351 as ‘degradation identified as resulting from oxidative cleavage of macromolecules’. Oxo-biodegradation is defined by CEN as ‘degradation resulting from oxidative and cell-mediated phenomena, either simultaneously or successively’. This means that the plastic degrades by oxidation until its molecular weight is low enough to be accessible to bacteria and fungi.
In a statement about its judgement, the European General Court said that ‘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’.
Symphony said it will issue a detailed note on the judgement next week.
It added that its d2w technology has not been widely used in the EU for several years, and therefore that the ‘lengthy legal process and Judgement has therefore very little effect on Symphony’s business’.
Symphony said its d2w technology has been in use around the world for the past 15 years. It added that its technology is mandatory for a wide range of plastic products in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries, ‘who have carried out their own due diligence on the technology, supported by robust international standards, to provide biodegradability, recyclability, and non-toxicity’.
Commenting on the judgement, Michael Laurier CEO said “We were right to challenge this clause in the Directive, and we should have received compensation for the confusion caused. We will be using the attention attracted by the case for a strong communications programme to explain the value of d2w biodegradable technology to protect the environment around the world from persistent plastic litter. Symphony is heavily invested in a number of exciting territories around the world for our d2w and d2p technologies, with a business that is operationally geared, and we look forward to communicating further in the coming months.”