Top judge says case for new #PlasticsTechnology is ‘clear and compelling’

| November 6, 2018

A report by a former deputy judge of the High Court in England has declared the scientific case for oxo-biodegradable technologies to be “clear and compelling”, writes Martin Banks.

Oxo-biodegradable technology is intended to deal with plastic which escapes into the open environment, and especially the oceans, from which it cannot realistically be collected, and where it would otherwise persist for decades as a serious problem for future generations.

Leading lawyer Peter Susman, in his report, examined the processes of abiotic and biotic degradation of plastics, and then looked specifically at degradation in air and degradation in seawater. 

He concluded, in a 14-page written opinion that oxo-biodegradable technology does facilitate the ultimate biodegradation of plastics in air or seawater by bacteria, fungi or algae, within a reasonable time, so as to cause the plastic to cease to exist as such, far sooner than ordinary plastics, without causing any toxicity; that “the benefit is obvious of reducing future contributions to the scourge of plastic pollution of land and sea”; that oxo-biodegradable technology is compatible with composting and recycling; and “the criticism alleging that oxo-biodegradable plastic technology would materially encourage littering [can only be regarded] as fanciful and unrealistic”.

His report was welcomed by Symphony Environmental Technologies, the UK’s leading producer of oxo-biodegradable plastic products, which are now mandatory in 12 countries.

The issue is particularly topical as the European Parliament recently adopted its stance on a Commission proposal to cut down on single-use plastics — an effort to target the most-littered items accounting for 60 percent of trash found on Europe’s beaches.

The report by Belgian MEP Frederique Ries was adopted in a 571-53 vote with 34 abstentions.

Ries thanked her fellow MEPs for the “overwhelming support,” and got a mandate to start negotiations with the Council.

The Parliament beefed up the Commission’s original proposal by adding more products to the list of banned items. Products made of oxodegradable plastics, and takeaway boxes and cups made of styrofoam, as well as straws, coffee stirrers balloon sticks and ear buds made of plastics will have to be banned by 2021. Plates and cutlery got an exemption until 2023.

Parliament also supported Ries’ proposal to cut consumption of cigarette filters made of plastic by 80 percent by 2030. The European People’s Party was able to introduce an amendment to cut the consumption of throwaway food containers and cups by 25 percent by 2025; the Commission proposal had no quantitative target.

Producers of plastic items will have to pay for waste collection and treatment costs, provided that these are limited to what municipalities currently pay for litter clean-up.

 Commenting, Susman told this website: “I have been asked imagine that I have been appointed as the sole member of an independent tribunal with jurisdiction to review, on a balance of probabilities, and in the light of the available scientific evidence, the effectiveness and utility of oxo-biodegradable plastic technology in facilitating the speedier final degradation of certain plastics.

“It is no longer tenable to conclude that there is ‘no firm evidence either way’ whether oxo-biodegradable plastic technology is effective. I consider that recent research provides clear and compelling evidence that oxo-biodegradable plastic is indeed effective in facilitating very significantly speedier degradation than is the case when that technology is not used.”

Reaction came from Michael Laurier, chief executive of Symphony Environmental, who said: “We are delighted that Mr Susman has found the scientific case for Symphony’s d2w oxo-biodegradable technology to be proven.

“This is a pivotal period for Symphony, with growing demand for our products across the world.

“In addition to this reasoned opinion, d2w oxo-biodegradable technology is validated in terms of degradability, biodegradability, and ecotoxicity by reference to existing European and US Standards, and also conforms with the EU Packaging Waste Directive. It is the only oxo-biodegradable product to have been awarded an ABNT Eco-label.”

Tags: , ,

Category: A Frontpage, Environment, Plastic carrier bags, Pollution, Recycling