What are OXO-DEGRADABLE PLASTICS?
“Oxo-degradable plastics are commonly fossil-based, non-biodegradable polyolefins or polyesters (e.g. PE or PET) supplemented with salts and transition metals. These additives are supposed to enable the biodegradation of apparently non-biodegradable plastics.”
Constance Iβbrücker, Head of Environmental Affairs at European Bioplastics Bioplastic Magazine 1701 p 44
Are they HARMFUL?
European Bioplastics has long been talking about the risk of oxo-degradable plastics and the increasing use of false and misleading labelling and greenwashing practices of some manufacturers of these materials.
If they don’t degrade safely back into our environment you wonder – where do they go?
Some manufacturers claim “Once the oxidation process has reached a certain point, microorganisms begin to colonize on the surface. Colony sizes on the plastic product depend on the degree of oxidation. The microorganisms actively metabolize the oxygenated plastic. By-products from this process are H2O, CO2 and humus. These by-products are assimilated into the natural lifecycle of most ecosystems.”
The New Plastics Economy states “significant evidence suggests oxo-degradable plastics do not safely biodegrade but fragment into small pieces, contributing to microplastics pollution.”
While the Plastics Recycling Organisation have the following education piece. “The additives change the expectations for a plastic’s future function. Bottles with degradable additives can be ground and melted like another bottle, but with reduced quality and service life expectations.” The result is a lower quality recycled plastic.
As an alternative, to recyclable or oxo-degradable products, customers can look for certified compostable packaging. Certified compostable packaging is third party tested for degradation and non-toxic impact.
At BSIbio we provide third party BPI certified compostable products and always work to inform our customers. We do our homework and as a company are actively engaged in compost research. Our goal is designs and sell better products that contribute to amazing compost.
On Monday 6th November the New Plastics Economy Team at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation published a statement calling for a global ban on oxo-degradable plastics. See the full press release here.