The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published a briefing on the challenges and opportunities presented by biodegradable and compostable plastics.
In key messages from the briefing:
• Whether a plastic item will biodegrade depends upon two factors. Firstly, if it is designed for biodegradation or composting, and secondly, the conditions the item is exposed to after use and for how long. Both of these factors also affect how quickly an item will biodegrade.
• The conditions in home and open environment composters are very different compared to industrial composting plants, which affects the rate and extent of breakdown.
• Biodegradable, compostable and bio-based plastics need clearer labelling and repeated awareness-raising campaigns, targeting users to ensure their correct disposal and treatment.
• In a circular economy, all plastics should be recycled into new plastics in the first instance. Compostable plastics that can be treated with bio-waste offer environmental benefits for specific applications and situations, provided their use is aligned with the bio-waste treatment infrastructure.
Source: EEA, 27 August 2020