On 25 January 2017, at the crossroads of several important dossiers and initiatives concerning the Circular Economy Package, Margrete Auken, Member of European Parliament, hosted a breakfast debate on ‘Clarifying biodegradable plastics and how to put them to proper use’.

MEP Auken welcomed a delegation of the Congress’ of the Philippines Ecology Committee – Mr Dilbert Quetulio and Mrs Glenda Daco – to participate in the breakfast debate.

Full-house at breakfast discussion of MEP Margrete Auken on ‘Clarifying biodegradable plastics’ on 25 January 2017.

The three speakers Philippe Dewolfs, (Vinçotte), Professor Emmanuelle Gastaldi (University of Montpellier), and Stefano Facco (Novamont) shared their knowledge on standards and labels for biodegradable plastics, on research of positive agronomical effects and biodegradation of mulch films in soil, as well as how biodegradable plastics can support bio-waste collection and food waste prevention.

Some of the main insights for the 40 participants representing the EU institutions as well as science, environmental NGOs and industry, were:

  • Biodegradation of a plastic always needs to be tied to the environment in which it happens.
  • It is only biodegradation if there is activity of microorganisms. Oxo-fragmentation is no biodegradation.
  • There is a range of mature national and CEN standards that define biodegradation in several environments (e.g. composting plant, and (coming soon) biodegradation on fields).
  • The biodegradation environment where circular thinking is implemented is the composting facility in which organic recycling takes place. Secondary products are gained (e.g. organic fertilisers).
  • Researching biodegradability of plastics in other environments such as the marine environment is a valid research path, but moral and technological challenges need to be taken into account. The circular principle needs to be prioritised.
  • There are several mature biodegradable plastic products in the market that support circular thinking – such as compostable waste bags, and ease impact on the environment – such as plastic mulches that are biodegradable in soil.

European Bioplastics thanks MEP Margrete Auken for hosting this event and facilitating the exchange of knowledge on biodegradable plastics.

You will find more information at the EUBP website:

Fact Sheet Standards for bioplastics

Position Circular Economy and bioplastics

Position Fertilisers Regulation and biodegradable mulch films

Position End-of-life of bioplastics

Position Marine litter