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Bio-plastics consultation released

26th July 2019

Wayne Grant

On 22 July, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy released a consultation to seek evidence on the sustainability of bio-based and biodegradable plastics in comparison with current plastic materials

This is another consultation which has come as a result of the government Resources and Waste Strategy published in December 2018.

In a nutshell, bio-plastic is plastic made from plant or other biological material instead of petroleum. This is also often named bio-based plastic. Bio-plastic can either be made by extracting sugar from plants like corn and sugarcane to convert into polylactic acids (PLAs), or it can be made from polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) engineered from microorganisms. PLA plastic is commonly used in food packaging, while PHA is often used in medical devices like sutures and cardiovascular patches.

The consultation aims to gather evidence on existing plastic degradation standards and how they could be encouraged without adverse effect, as well as looking at how standards for biodegradable plastics will be designed to ensure they fully biodegrade in a sensible time frame. There are six areas of focus which the consultation seeks opinion on:

  • Bio-based plastics
  • Biodegradable plastics
  • Compostable plastics
  • Existing and potential biodegradability standards
  • Certification and labelling
  • Impacts upon waste processing

Views from any interested group will be welcomed, however, government are particularly keen to gain evidence from a specific list of parties, including manufacturers and waste processors, so for packaging producers in the manufacturing industry who utilise plastic, we’d advise them to get involved with this consultation.

The data gathered from the evidence will be used to build up a more complete assessment on the demand, implications and benefits of using bioplastics. This in turn will inform policy around clean growth, the circular economy and environmental protection, as well as ensuring that communications given to the public about waste are clear and helpful.

The consultation deadline for responses is Monday 14 October and a response from government should be published within 12 weeks of the closing date. We will be responding to this consultation as a scheme and will shortly be communicating further information to members regarding a related webinar, survey and additional support resources to furnish you with the tools and opportunity to share your views on the consultation which we can communicate to government via our scheme response or for you to submit your own response directly.    

The full consultation document is available on the government website here - https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/standards-for-biodegradable-compostable-and-bio-based-plastics-call-for-evidence

In the meantime, if you have any queries with regards to this consultation, please don’t hesitate to contact our dedicated Policy Team at consultation@complydirect.com