Biofuel & Biodiesel EU Michael Stephen Column US

Corruption in the EU Parliament, US Composting Consortium and Germany Rejects Crop-Based Biofuels (FREE)

Today, Michael writes about Corruption in the EU Parliament, US Composting Consortium and Germany Rejects Crop-Based Biofuels. This is a FREE article


Readers will recall that on 19th December 2022 I said I was not entirely surprised to see that a Vice-President of the European Parliament had been arrested for corruption, and that the homes and hotels of 18 MEPs and officials had been searched by the police, yielding suitcases stuffed with banknotes.

The reason I was not surprised is that I have never been able to understand how, in the absence of improper pressure,  it was possible to impose a ban on “oxo-degradable” plastic products (by Art. 5 of the Single-use plastics Directive 2019/904) without any dossier from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) showing any justification for such a ban.  To make matters worse, the Commission had actually asked ECHA (under Art 69 of the REACH Regulation) to study whether these products created microplastics.  ECHA received hundreds of pages of evidence but were then instructed to by the Commission terminate the study, and the Parliament proceeded to legislate anyway.

This week I see that the Deputy director of Transparency International EU has been telling MEP’s that the Parliament’s internal decision-making body should be looked into, as the assembly lacks a serious sanctions regime for rule-breaking MEPs. He added that in the parliament’s last mandate, 24 violations of the code of conduct happened, but no sanctions were imposed.

He said that there is a “culture of impunity” in the parliament which contributed to the scandal that rocked the institution at the end of last year.


I see that an American organisation called The Composting Consortium, has announced the launch of its “Compostable Packaging Degradation Pilot.” According to the consortium, the initiative is the most comprehensive collaborative study of real-world compostable packaging disintegration in the U.S. to date. It aims to improve available data on how certified, food-contact compostable foodware and packaging is currently breaking down at various types of composting facilities.

What is the point of this?

Even if they are able to show that “compostable” foodware and packaging is breaking down as intended in composting facilities (which it is probably not – see it will not be converting into compost or anything remotely useful for the soil. This is because ASTM D6400 requires it to convert into CO2 gas.  There is nothing circular about this, as the material is simply being wasted.  Also, because it has to be collected and taken to a composting facility it does not address the main plastics problem facing governments today – namely the plastic which gets into the environment and cannot be collected.  The type of plastic designed to address that problem is oxo-biodegradable, which is tested according to ASTM D6954.

The UK Government is no longer supporting “compostable” plastic.  It said in January 2023 that “Compostable plastics must be sent to an industrial composter for them to compost, so if littered in the open environment they will act much like any other plastic. In addition, because they are visibly indistinguishable from non-compostable plastics, even when they are sent to industrial composters there is no guarantee that they will not be stripped out at the start of the process and sent to landfill or incineration plants.”


German environment minister Steffi Lemke has said she would soon send proposals to the cabinet for Germany to withdraw from the use of crop-based biofuels to achieve reductions in greenhouse gases. “Biofuels stand for land consumption and loss of biological diversity,” Lemke said “To replace only around 4% of fossil fuel use in German road transport, a land space is needed which represents about 20% of the German agricultural area. That is not future-orientated.”

The same can be said for using crops to make plastics, which the EU Commission is no longer supporting.  It seemed quite a good idea a few years ago to use crops to make biofuels and plastic but it has proved to be an expensive fiasco, which is kept alive only by huge advertising and PR budgets.

Earlier Postings in this Column

All articles of Michael Stephen can be found here

Interview with Michael Stephen


The opinions expressed here by Michael Stephen and other columnists are their own, not those of

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