Michael Stephen Column

Lobbyist Swamp in Brussels, Failed SUP Ban in India, Deliveroo (FREE)

Today, Michael writes about lobbyist swamp in Brussels, Failed SUP ban in India and Deliveroo. This is a FREE article


Following the corruption scandal in the European Parliament revealed in December, when the police found suitcases stuffed with banknotes, the Dutch socialist MEP Paul Tang has said that “MEPs’ assistants, EU Commission officials, and industry insiders should help drain the lobbyist swamp in Brussels by tipping off a new “early-alert” system.”

He spoke after a secure drop-box for potential whistleblowers went online on Thursday (2 February).

This he said is designed to expose abuse such as “astroturfing” in which industry giants lobby via front organisations.

One of the most active campaigners against oxo-biodegradable plastic is the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.  On 14th May 2018 lawyers acting for Symphony Environmental wrote to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation as follows:

Your 2017 Report [commonly referred to as “the oxo statement”] indicates that it is endorsed by a number of companies and organisations, some of which, our client informs us, are aggressively promoting a different plastic technology, whilst others are themselves producers of many of the plastic articles which are found as litter in the environment. EMF has not declared the amounts of money which it has received from those companies and organisations and we request that it does so.” [it failed to declare these amounts].

Other “Front Organisations” lobbying against oxo-biodegradable plastic include the BBIA, the BPI, and European Bioplastics.


India imposed a single-use plastics ban in July 2022, but it has been a very visible failure, because the mass of the population are simply not willing to do without their plastic products.  There is a cost difference between a PE bag and an alternative, and vendors get penalized for not having carry bags for the consumer. If they don’t provide one, the consumer moves on to the next shop.

Large amounts of these plastic products find their way into the open environment as litter, where they can lie or float around for decades, especially beside the roads and railway tracks.  The only way to deal with this is for the government to require all these products to be made with oxo-biodegradable technology, which can be done very quickly, at little or no extra cost. They will then biodegrade much more quickly.

Bio-based alternatives are much more expensive, and do not solve the problem anyway.  This is because they are designed to biodegrade in an industrial composting facility, not in the open environment, and cannot be recycled. India has very few industrial composting facilities, and if you can collect the plastic it makes no sense to take it to a composting facility, where it will simply convert into CO2 – not into compost or anything remotely useful for the soil. There is nothing circular about that.


In November 2022 the British online food service company Deliveroo announced a £2.5 million investment to subsidize the cost of more environmentally sustainable packaging and to encourage restaurant partners to move away from more polluting options.

If they were thinking of moving to the type of plastic marketed as compostable, they would have been disappointed when in January 2023 the UK government announced that it  is no longer supporting “compostable” plastic.  It said 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.”

If Deliveroo had in mind fibre-based materials, they need to be aware that this has raised the usage of chemicals like PFAS, which act as grease-proof barriers for cardboard or paper packaging. These chemicals have been linked to cancer, fertility damage and hormone disruption. Efforts to diminish their use in the EU were recently postponed by the European Commission due to political and economic instability caused by the Ukraine war.

The best option for Deliveroo is in fact ordinary plastic, because it is very lightweight, cheap, and versatile, and can be re-used and recycled. It also has a better LCA than the alternatives LCA

If it is made with oxo-biodegradable technology it will not lie or float around for decades if it ends up in the environment as litter.

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 Bioplasticsnews.com

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