Worldwide organisations call for ban on oxo-degradable plastics

More than 150 organisations have called for oxo-degradable packaging to be banned, following research suggesting that it does not safely biodegrade in nature.

Under the auspices of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative, the organisations from every stage of the plastics supply chain, including Marks and Spencer, PepsiCo, Unilever, Veolia, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Bio-Based and Biodegradable Industries Association (BBIA) and ten Members of the European Parliament, published an official statement yesterday (6 November) calling for an end to the use of oxo-degradable plastic packaging.

Oxo-degradable plastic packaging has been mooted as a solution to plastic pollution, with claims that this particular form of plastic degrades into harmless residues over a period of a few months to a few years. However, significant evidence cited in the EMF’s statement suggests that oxo-degradable plastics (not to be confused with internationally compliant compostable plastics) do not actually degrade, but fragment into tiny pieces of plastic, contributing to plastic pollution.

In its statement, the EMF expressed that it ‘support[s] applying the precautionary principle by banning oxo-degradable plastic packaging from the market’, given that ‘the evidence to date suggests that oxo-degradable plastic packaging goes against two core principles of the circular economy: designing out waste and pollution; and keeping products and materials in high-value use’.