I have been reading the “Recyclass Design Book” June 2022.
On page 10 it says “Flakes are melted and mixed during extrusion, to obtain plastic pellets. At this stage, certain components can degrade the quality of the output material. These include polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC) which contain chlorine that reacts with recycling temperatures, causing degradation, or bio- and oxo-degradable materials (PLA, PHA, starch) that promote breakage and lower the recyclate quality.”
They are right about bio materials (PLA, PHA, starch) which will certainly lower the recyclate quality, and should not be encouraged by anyone who believes in recycling plastics, but I don’t know what they mean by “oxo-degradable materials.”
“Oxo-degradation” is defined by CEN (the European Standards authority) in TR15351 as “degradation identified as resulting from oxidative cleavage of macromolecules.” This describes ordinary plastics, which abiotically degrade by oxidation in the open environment and create microplastics, but do not become biodegradable except over a very long period of time. These materials will sometimes have components with prodegradant effects but the materials are not normally excluded from recycling streams.
“Oxo-biodegradation is defined by CEN as “degradation resulting from oxidative and cell-mediated phenomena, either simultaneously or successively.” Oxo-biodegradable plastics such as d2w are made with prodegradant additives, but there is no reason why they should be excluded from a recycling stream See Recycling
According to an article in Packaging Insights on 24th June, Unilever has worked to derail and circumvent legislation limiting the use of single-use plastic sachets in developing nations, despite publicly decrying their harm to the environment and pledging a complete phase-out, according to a recent Reuters investigation.
An environmental group “A Plastic Planet” says 855 billion plastic sachets are sold annually – “enough to cover the entire surface of Earth.” However, Unilever points to the powerful protection that plastic sachets provide for products.
I rather agree with Unilever that plastic sachets provide powerful protection, especially for drinking water, in the developing world. They are better than bottles because they cannot be refilled and contaminated. Unilever should therefore continue to resist bans on these very useful products.
Plastic sachets are so small and of such low value that it makes no sense in economic or environmental terms to recycle them. The only problem is that if they escape as litter they will persist in the environment for a very long time, so they need to be made with d2w biodegradable technology. Unilever should engage with Symphony Environmental to get this done as a matter of urgency.
UK Plastic Packaging Tax
UK food packaging businesses are being forced to pay a tax on plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content, but this is a requirement they cannot comply with, and the financial penalties incurred will force them to push additional costs onto consumers. This is something which ought to worry Boris Johnson, as cost-of-living increases caused by DEFRA will lose him even more elections.
The tax is unrealistic because most of the recycled plastic is not suitable for food contact, and food-grade recyclate is not sufficiently available anywhere in the world. Businesses are therefore having to pay the tax and pushing price increases onto consumers.
Paper is not really an alternative. It is a difficult material to package food with for all sorts of reasons, mostly because it loses its strength if it gets wet. Also it doesn’t create a barrier unless it’s got a coating, and it won’t seal to itself.
The tax arose out of an obsession with a “circular economy” at DEFRA. Recycling makes a lot of sense for some waste materials, and even for some types of plastic, but not all See Recycling
Michael Stephen is a lawyer and was a member of the United Kingdom Parliament, where he served on the Environment Select Committee. When he left Parliament Symphony Environmental Technologies Plc. attracted his attention because of his interest in the environment. He is now Deputy Chairman of Symphony, which is listed on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange, and is the founder and Chairman of the Biodegradable Plastics Association.
Earlier Postings in this Column
All articles of Michael Stephen can be found here
- 1/ 1/ 20 – Plastiphobia, Microplastics and A Throw-Away Society
- 7/ 1/ 20 – Recycling, Lab Testing, Bangladesh and the Right Bioplastic
- 14/1/20 – Plastiphobia and Bioplastics Definitions
- 21/1/20 – Composting, the European Union and Unemployment
- 30/1/20 – Plastiphobia, Malaysia and a Case Against Compostables and Paper
- 7/02/20 – Coronavirus, MPs Letter, Montreal, Australia and the Dominican Republic
- 14/02/20 – Oman, MacArthur Foundation, Stifling Innovation, South Africa and Compostable Plastics
- 24/02/20 – Serbia, India, Pakistan and European Bioplastics
- 03/03/20 – Plastic To Protect Health and Common Sense on Plastic
- 10/03/20 – Plastiphobia, Singapore, Compostable Plastics, Doorknobs and Carbios
- 17/03/20 – Greening our Way to Infection, Defra Warns Against Bioplastics and Montreal
- 24/03/20 – Ditch the Plastic Bag Ban and Inn-Probio
- 01/04/20 – The Come Back of Plastic Bags, Compostable Plastic Not Wanted and EASAC
- 16/04/20 – Coronavirus and Agricultural Plastics
- 11/05/20 – Coronavirus, Peru, Barbados and Recycling
- 18/05/20 – Say No to Plastiphobia, False Descriptions and the Recycling Myth
- 02/06/20 – Definitions and More Setbacks for Plastiphobia
- 11/06/20 – BBIA, Food Waste and Testing of OXO-Biodegradable Plastic
- 19/06/20 – Oxo Biodegradation, Independent Reports and Precautionary Principle
- 29/06/20 – Banana Republic, Why Turn Plastic into CO2 and Plastic Waste from Ships
- 13/07/20 – Running Scared, The Daily Telegraph and Market Report
- 20/07/20 – Tipa, Plastics Today and The American Genius
- 27/07/20 – Coronavirus, Plastic Litter, Bahrain and Polymateria
- 17/08/20 – Plastics Europe, Confusing Issues and Paper
- 25/08/20 – Professor Emo Chiellini, Plastics Today, Greenwashing and Coronavirus
- 28/09/20 – Kill the Virus, Marine Degradation, Airports, Brazil Retail, Plastic Growth and Face Mask
- 08/10/20 – Compostable vs Biodegradable, Covid 19 and New British Bioplastic Standard
- 27/10/20 – Power of Lobbying, Paper and Cotton Worse than Plastic
- 02/11/20 – Covid 19 and Five Myths About Plastic
- 09/11/20 – Support for OXO BIO, Westminster Forum, Euractiv and Covid
- 23/11/20 – Toxicity of Bio-based and Biodegradable Plastics, and Covid Scaremongering
- 15/12/20 – Recycling and An Article from Austria
- 21/12/20 – EU Scientific Advisers, China Chose Wrong Bioplastics and Covid Nonsense
- 05/01/20 – EU, Covid Lockdowns, WRAP, British Standards Institution and Polymateria
- 12/01/21 – Intertek and Composting
- 19/01/21 – Recycling and Exporting Plastic Waste
- 22/02/21 – Seaweed Plastic, Orange Peel and Xampla
- 02/03/31 – OXO Biodegradable Plastic
- 08/03/21 – EU Scientific Reports and Paper vs Plastic
- 15/03/21 – India, Australia and Dow Chemicals
- 14/04/21 – Oxomar, UK Government and Microplastics
- 26/04/21 – Plastic to the Rescue of Covid and More News from Brazil
- 04/05/21 – Packaging Digest
- 07/06/21 – Minderoo Report and Korea Herald
- 30/06/21 – Recycling, Is the Use of Biobased Plastics Increasing, Confused Australians and Biodegradable Future
- 12/07/21 – EU Flawed Directive, Thailand and Pakistan
- 21/07/21 – Directors Talk, Confusion, Stir Magazine and Dumping Plastic Waste
- 02/08/21 – Angry Farmers, DEFRA and Substitutes for Plastic
- 06/09/21 – Microplastics
- 13/09/21 – UK Government, Defra and David Newman
- 20/09/21 – Michael Stephen Video Interview on Antimicrobial and Biodegradable Packaging
- 05/10/21 – Freedom of Information and Plastic Waste Solutions
- 14/10/21 – Michael Stephen at Pack4Change Summit
- 22/10/21 – Plastic from Algae and Carbon Dioxide
- 15/11/21 – Defra
- 22/11/21 – Defra, India, Food Service Footprint Magazine and Waste 360
- 30/11/21 – RWM Digital Spotlight and Plastiphobia
- 17/12/21 – Disposal in the Right Way and Defra Consultation Responses
- 04/01/22 – Precautionary Principle, Anti Oxo Campaign and Defra
- 11/01/22 – Microplastics
- 17/01/22 – Michael Laurier, A Saucy Problem and Unilever
- 21/02 /22 – No Alternative for Plastic
- 08/03/22 – Sustainable Agriculture, Canada, Consequence of Banning, United Nations
- 14/03/22 – Plastiphobia
- 04/04/22 – Virgin Mobile, Defra, OXO, Microplastics, End of Life Options
- 11/04/22 – Ellen MacArthur Foundation
- 09/05/22 – Response to Association of Plastic Recyclers
- 16/05/22 – Wrap and More Bad News for Compostable Plastics in UK Parliament
- 30/05/22 – A Threat to Humanity and Market Research
- 13/06/22 – Recycling, OECD and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Interview with Michael Stephen
The opinions expressed here by Michael Stephen and other columnists are their own, not those of Bioplasticsnews.com.