EU Michael Stephen Column Recycling

EU Parliament, recycling, vegetable-based plastics (FREE)

Today Michael talks about the EU Parliament; Recycling; and Vegetable-based plastics. This is a FREE article


MEPs in the parliament are still struggling to come to terms with the cash-for-influence scandal, nine months after it came to light, and they have failed to reach an agreement on a rule which is designed to close loopholes allegedly exploited by the suspects. Police had seized €1.5 million in cash, including a suitcase containing more than €750,000 in a Brussels hotel.

A report published by Transparency International EU this week revealed that the majority of MEPs still fail to declare their outside interests.

I read today that Judge Michel Claise the Belgian judge who had been in charge of the case has suggested that unnamed individuals have been attempting to manipulate the truth. “And the truth will explode one day in the face of those manipulators who try to distort it” he said.

I have commented before on the corruption scandal in the EU because I have never been able to understand why a ban on oxo-degradable plastic was pushed though the European Parliament without waiting for a report from the European Chemicals Agency, who were not convinced that there was anything wrong with it. I think this is another case which should be investigated by the police.


For the past 20 years governments and NGO’s have pushed recycling as the solution to what they see as “the plastics problem.”

However, in a report published in June, Credit Suisse say that “Unfortunately, recycling is not a panacea and there are numerous barriers to rapidly increasing recycling. These include, but are not limited to, the diversity of plastic polymers, product design and plastic’s toxicity and flammability.”  There were thousands of types of plastic, and even widely used polymers such as HDPE, PVC, LDPE, PP and PS had to be separated for mechanical recycling.

“The recycling process itself is also fraught with difficulty as, unlike metal and glass, plastics are not inert.”

The main problem is however the plastic waste which does not get collected at all, and cannot therefore be recycled. The only way to prevent PE and PP lying or floating around for decades, and  fragmenting into microplastics is to make it with oxo-biodegradable technology, but the people who pushed the ban on oxo-degradable plastic through the EU Parliament have scored an own-goal,


“This cup is made from plants not plastic” is stated on the hot beverage cups on domestic Air New Zealand flights.

An article in New Zealand’s Consumer magazine says “While you may be inclined to sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight knowing you’re supping from a ‘green’ cup, this isn’t as good as it sounds.”

“Just because something is made from a plant doesn’t mean it has less impact on the planet than products that aren’t. If monoculture crops are being grown for plastic rather than food, it leads to biodiversity loss, significant water usage, pesticides and fertilizers in our waterways, and results in degradation of soil.”

“Composting is a “specific process that will only work in certain conditions,” according to The Ministry for the Environment’s report on Compostable products (2022).”  Actually, the composters don’t want plastic of any kind in their facility – Composting

“If most of the cups can’t be composted due to a lack of infrastructure, and end up in landfill, we think Air NZ is greenwashing.”

Ordinary plastics are cheaper and more versatile than vegetable-based plastics, but they can lie or float around for decades if they get into the environment. They should therefore be made with oxo-biodegradable technology.  See Why biodegradable?

Michael Stephen

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 from Michael Stephen

Interview with Michael Stephen

Questions and Answers on OXO-Biodegradability


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

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