The Dutch Waste Management Association (Vereniging Afvalbedrijven VA) welcomes the sustainability of packaging. Bioplastics contribute to this sustainability and can be a good alternative to the use of fossil plastics. What is best for climate and environment is paramount here. The position of the Dutch Waste Management Association is clear: focus on the recyclability of bioplastics and avoid the use of compostable bioplastics. The recently published research from Wageningen University and Research (WUR) does not change this position.
Last week the WUR published the study ‘ Compostable plastics break down quickly enough in the current Dutch VFG waste processing”. The Dutch Waste Management Association is surprised at the conclusions of this study.
For instance, the practical research was only conducted in one specific composting company while no other composting process is the NL are similar.
In addition, only a few compostable bioplastic products have been added to the composting process. These products are not representative of compostable bioplastic products in general, because the choice of these products has been decided in advance to co-benefit and influence the citizens.
In short, the research conclusions are not representative for the Dutch composting practice, but, more importantly, can also lead to choices by producers who are well-intentioned, but are bad for the climate and the environment.
Compostable bioplastic packaging does not contribute to the circular economy
WUR concludes that on the basis of a few compostable bioplastics, all compostable bioplastics that meet the European standard EN-13432 break down in a composting facility.
That conclusion is premature and is not demonstrated either. The national waste management plan (LAP) “yes or no” list is the criteria that decides what may be thrown in the organic waste bin, compostability is not the criteria to select what may be thrown in the biowaste. Even if the degradability of compostable packaging is to be greatly improved, they remain useless in the organic waste, because they do not contribute to the circular economy.
In composting, biodegradable plastic disintegrates into water and CO2. Moreover, it is a shame to give bioplastics a single-use destination, while recycling is already possible and therefore much more sustainable.
Finally, it is difficult for citizens to distinguish between biodegradable plastic and fossil plastic, which increases the risk of contamination of organic waste. A risk that must be avoided to maintain the quality of organic waste and that good quality clean compost can be made.
No reasons to make more compostable plastic
Thanks to the WUR study, the VA sees no reason to make more packaging and products compostable. This research only zooms in on the compostability of a small number of compostable bioplastic products in one composting installation. The research says nothing about the sustainability gains achieved.
It’s not because a product could be made from compostable plastic that it must be be made automatically from compostable bioplastics. At the end of 2017, in its study ” Biobased plastics in a circular economy.”‘: Policy suggestions for bio-based and bio-based biodegradable plastics’ has already been demonstrated that compostable bioplastics can only be of added value for a circular economy when more and cleaner organic waste is collected through its use, which reduces the amount of residual waste.
Compostable bioplastics therefore provide an advantage in very limited applications, such as collection bags for organic waste, an added value to the circular economy and for this reason the VA is in favour of recycling of bioplastics instead of composting.
Published on duurzaam-ondernemen.nl