On June 1, 2020, a group of industry associations and non-governmental organizations including Greenpeace sent a letter to UK authorities asking them to implement a total ban on the use, sale, and distribution of oxo-degradable plastics in the country. The term is meant to include all non-biodegradable plastics that contain additives meant to accelerate the fragmentation of the plastic. The signatories emphasize that the UK voted for the European Single Use Plastics Directive (2019/904) (FPF reported) while the country was a member of the EU, and the directive prohibits EU member states from placing products made from oxo-degradable plastic on the market. The letter argues that the UK should retain “the ambition to achieve at least the equivalent of European environmental norms” and that use of the term biodegradable to describe such plastics has been deemed in some jurisdictions in the US as misleading, resulting in companies there being fined for misuse.

With the UK currently revising its legislation on plastic packaging (FPF reported), the letter urges that now is the appropriate time act. Oxo-degradable plastics are presented as only accelerating “the conversion of macroplastics into microplastics, not solving the global problem of plastic pollution but worsening it.” It also explains that the additives placed in oxo-degradable plastics complicate the recycling and composting processes for other plastics and additionally confuse consumers. The letter has been met with criticism from producers of oxo-degradable plastics.

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Sustainable Plastics (June 11, 2020). “UK organisations call for ban on oxo-degradable plastics.”

Axel Barrett (June 4, 2020). “Symphony Wins Battle of Words with Compostable Plastics Industry.” Bioplastics News