FAQ2019-01-23T14:01:23+01:00
What is biodegradation?2017-06-19T14:50:21+02:00

Biodegradation is a chemical process in which materials are metabolised to CO2, water, and biomass with the help of microorganisms. The process of biodegradation depends on the conditions (e.g. location, temperature, humidity, presence of microorganisms, etc.) of the specific environment (industrial composting plant, garden compost, soil, water, etc.) and on the material or application itself. Consequently, the process and its outcome can vary considerably.

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biodegradable plastics

Are any contaminants or harmful substances left behind when compostable plastics biodegrade?2017-06-19T14:18:25+02:00

Compostable plastics that are tested and certified according to the European standard for industrial composting EN 13432 are required to disintegrate after 12 weeks and completely biodegrade after six months. That means that 90 percent or more of the plastic material will have been converted to CO2. The remaining share is converted into water and biomass, which no longer contains any plastic. EN 13432 also includes test on ecotoxicity and heavy metal contents to ensure that no harmful substances are left behind.

How can I become a member of EUBP and what are the benefits of a membership?2018-07-19T15:01:08+02:00

Companies already involved in the bioplastics business sector but not yet a member of European Bioplastics should consider the advantages of connecting to our information and business platform and enlarging their network. Newcomers to our industry and/or the European market in particular can rely on European Bioplastics to help them get a foothold in the sector and benefit from our broad knowledge and contact database.

A membership offers access to a multitude of networking opportunities, visibility through representation across the field, business enhancement opportunities and support, access to comprehensive information resources, annual meetings and conference discounts.

The services available exclusively to members of European Bioplastics, include (but are not limited to):

  • A ‘members only’ knowledge database including reports, political communiqués and financial programmes;
  • Public relations and marketing measures and activities that increase awareness for bioplastics and our members’ brands and products;
  • Participation in association meetings and the opportunity to propose points of action for adoption;
  • Matchmaking/consulting services through European Bioplastics, which create synergies between companies looking for specific services within the bioplastics sector;
  • Reduced entry fees to industry events organised by European Bioplastics, and – where applicable – the opportunity to present products and network at the association’s booth.

For more details, please see the membership benefits leaflet or our statutes and membership fee code and membership application form.

What policies would be needed to pave the way for a full-scale market introduction of bioplastics in Europe?2022-05-25T10:38:57+02:00

The European bioplastics industry has a strong record for developing innovative technological solutions and aligning industrial objectives with environmental sustainability. In order for Europe to reinforce its position as a front-runner of resource efficiency and green growth, forward-looking sectors with strong environmental credentials and growth potential, such as bioplastics, need to be promoted. 

European Bioplastics has identified a number of key issues at political and regulatory level that will need to be addressed to ensure that the bioplastics sector can unfold its full environmental, economic, and social potential in Europe. These key issues are:  

  • Guaranteeing access to competitively priced agricultural feedstock and biomass in sufficient quantities and quality, and establishing a level playing field for industrial use of biomass with an integrated EU policy approach for material and energy uses of biomass and feedstock.  
  • Providing financial and political support through supportive market mechanisms similar to the “BioPreferred programme” in the United States or national investment programmes in several countries in South-East Asia. Additionally, Europe should further encourage a market shift towards increased production and use of bio-based products, in order to support and stimulate industry in Europe. This could involve incentivising the use of bio-based materials or putting a price tag on fossil carbon through carbon pricing mechanisms.  
  • Raising awareness and informing consumers about the importance of a transition to a bio-based circular economy and the benefits and essential role of products such as bioplastics in that shift. 

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Relevant EU policies

What regulatory framework is there for bioplastics on EU-level and what initiatives are underway?2022-05-25T10:39:37+02:00

Currently there is no EU law in place applying specifically to bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics. Yet, the European Union has made increasing efforts to introduce or adapt policies, regulatory frameworks, and standards to strengthen and implement the bioeconomy and circular economy in Europe in recent years, all of which affect the bioplastics sector in one way or other. 

In particular, the future policy framework for bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics, as part of the Commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan and Green Deal, is a crucial piece of legislation. It has the potential to boost the role of bioplastics in developing a truly circular bioeconomy, enabling innovation, and attracting new investments. Currently, there is no legislation in place at EU level specifically designed for our industry. Hence, the implications of the new policy framework for the bioplastics sector will be extremely important. 

European top-level strategies supporting bioplastics: 

  • EU Bioeconomy Strategy (2018)  
  • EU Plastics Strategy (2018)  
  • EU Green Deal (2019)  
  • New EU Circular Economy Action Plan (2020)  
  • EU Climate Law (2021) & EU Taxonomy (2020) 
  • Packaging & Packaging Waste Directive (review 2022) 
  • Waste Framework Directive (review 2023)   

Other relevant policy initiatives include:   

  • Single-Use Plastics Directive (2019) incl. restrictions on oxo-degradable plastics  
  • EU rules on recycled plastics for food-contact materials (2022)  
  • Substantiating claims on environmental performance (2022)  
  • Sustainable Products Initiative (2022) / Proposal on ecodesign for sustainable products Regulation  
  • Policy Framework for bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics (2022) 
  • Sustainable Carbon Cycles (2021)  

The European Green Deal (2019) is nothing less than the EU’s committment to making Europe climate neutral by 2050. The plan is to review each existing law, and to introduce new legislation on the circular economy, building renovation, biodiversity, farming, and innovation. The Deal plans to decouple economic growth from resource use, to set ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets (zero net emissions by 2050), carbon pricing mechanisms, and the decarbonisation of the energy system. In the deal, the Commission specifically foresees the adaption of a new Circular Economy Action Plan with strong focus on the plastics sector, especially “sustainable products” and a circular design for all products. However, the Commission should be cautious to not solely focus on mandatory provisions for recycled content, which hampers other innovative pathways of material innovation that help achieve zero net emissions. Alternative sustainable feedstocks such as bio-based feedstocks need to be encouraged as well to reduce dependency on fossil resources. 

In 2018, the European Commission adopted the first EU strategy for plastics with the overall aim to contribute to the transition towards a carbon neutral circular economy. It sets goals to curb plastic waste, to increase resource efficiency, and to create value and job growth in Europe. It highlights the importance of biodegradable and compostable plastics in separate collection systems for organic waste to improve clean waste streams and recycling quality.  

Furthermore, the Commission’s Sustainable Products Initiative (2022) and the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) proposal will be the cornerstone of EU environmental policy and will have a major impact on product design and market access. Published on 30 March 2022, the proposal builds upon the “Ecodesign Directive” which currently only covers energy related products. The Commission is proposing a general framework as well as sector specific legislation for different product categories. Ecodesign requirements will be adopted through delegated acts for each product group. The Commission will publish a preliminary work plan for the next 3 years, with the timeline for the publication for the Delegated Acts.  

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Relevant EU policies

How are environmental claims of bioplastic products soundly communicated?2017-06-22T14:02:45+02:00

Environmental claims of bioplastic products should be specific, accurate, relevant and truthful. Furthermore, there should be independent third party substantiation for these claims.

European Bioplastics has published a detailed guide regarding environmental communication.

What are the advantages of labels marking biobased property or compostability of bioplastics?2017-06-22T14:01:32+02:00

A label awarded in accordance with independent certification based on acknowledged standards guarantees that the product fulfils the criteria claimed. As bioplastics cannot be distinguished from conventional plastics by non-experts, reliable labelling helps the consumer to identify these products. It also informs the consumer of particular additional qualities the material or product possesses. Another advantage provided by compostability labels in particular is that they facilitate correct waste separation, collection and recovery.

Which labels for bioplastic products do exist in Europe?2018-07-19T16:12:48+02:00

Labels referring to the bio-based content are for example DIN-Geprüft biobased, OK biobased (both offering different labels reflecting the product’s share of bio-based content), and the new logo by Nederlandse Norm (NEN), based on EN 16785-1.

Labels for industrially compostable products are, for example, the Seedling Logo, OK Compost, and DIN-Geprüft Industrial Compostable.

Labels proving home compostability are OK compost Home and the DIN-Geprüft Home Compostable Mark.

The label OK biodegradable Soil is certified by TÜV AUSTRIA Belgium in case a product meets the requirement of their certification scheme. DIN CERTCO awards DIN-Geprüft biodegradable in soil in accordance with CEN/TR 15822.

Figure: The EUBP-Seedling, a biobased label by DIN CERTCO and OK biodegradable SOIL by TÜV AUSTRIA Belgium

Which institutions are involved in the certification of bioplastics in Europe?2018-07-19T16:07:55+02:00

Certification of biodegradable/compostable products is available from TÜV AUSTRIA Belgium and DIN CERTCO (Germany) or one of its co-operating institutes such as AfOR (UK) and COBRO (Poland). The Seedling logo for industrial compostable plastic packaging (based on EN 13432) can be acquired from TÜV AUSTRIA Belgium or DIN CERTCO following successful certification.

Certification for bio-based products based on EN 16640 is available from DIN CERTCO (Germany) and TÜV AUSTRIA Belgium.

How do standard, certification and label work together?2017-06-22T12:28:43+02:00

A standard can be used as the basis for a certification scheme if it clearly defines the criteria and the testing procedures for the material or product. Once the certifier confirms compliance with the defined requirements, the respective product can be labelled with the corresponding logo.

What are the relevant standards for bioplastics?2017-06-22T12:25:50+02:00

Working Group 3 of the Technical Committee (TC) 411 of CEN has developed different standards for the measurement of the renewable content of biobased materials and, therefore, bioplastics. Most importantly, the European norm EN 16640 „Bio-based products – Determination of the bio-based carbon content of products using the radiocarbon method“, published in 2017, describes how to measure the carbon isotope 14C (radiocarbon method). In addition, the standard EN 16785-1