Bioplastics are a broad family of materials that are either biobased, biodegradable, or both. The term “biobased” describes the basis of a material being fully or partly derived from biomass.
The term “biodegradable” refers to the inherent property of a material that, with the help of naturally occurring microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and algae, is converted back into water, carbon dioxide and biomass. European Bioplastics (EUBP), the industry association representing the interests of bioplastics including bioplastics that are certified as biodegradable/ compostable, distances itself from additive-mediated conventional plastics such as so-called “oxo-degradable” plastics. The technology of additive mediated fragmentation entails that a conventional plastic is combined with special additives, which are purported to promote the degradation of the product. Yet, the resulting fragments remain in the environment and do not biodegrade as defined in internationally accepted industry standards such as EN 13432 for industrial composting.
Products made with additive-technology and available on the market include film applications such as shopping bags, agricultural mulch films and, most recently, certain plastic bottles. Experts from the plastics industry, waste management, and environment protection voice serious concerns about these products not meeting their claimed environmental promises.
In this paper, EUBP aims to outline the issues and questions concerning additive-mediated conventional plastics in order to support consumers, retailers, and the industry in identifying unsubstantiated and misleading product claims.