In in the context of the currently discussed REACH restriction of microplastics, several business associations representing producers of biobased and biodegradable materials, including European Bioplastics, developed a joint letter to raise concerns about the proposed definition of “natural polymers” and its impact on biopolymers. The signatories’ members are companies that industrially produce solutions based on renewable carbon. This way, they are continuously improving the sustainability footprint of many sectors by replacing fossil-based polymers and providing biodegradable materials. Their innovations increasingly enable them to make ‘nature identical’ biopolymers.

In the letter, the signatories highlight that EU policy should encourage such innovative efforts to support the EU’s objectives for a green transition. Therefore, according to the associations, the European Commission should not consider using a definition of “natural polymer” which refers to a polymerisation process that takes place in nature.

Given that there are many ongoing policy processes in the field of plastics, biobased plastics, packaging and the circular economy more broadly that may take a different approach, the introduction of such a definition would be premature. Because discussions at the EU level are still ongoing in the context of different legislative initiatives, e.g., the Packaging & Packaging Waste Regulation and the further development of the Bioeconomy Strategy. The proposed definition would also be based on an inappropriate legal basis, and is seen as discriminatory and disproportionate, hindering innovation, and thus would jeopardize meeting EU policy goals.

Considering the significantly fast pace of innovation in the field of biobased and biodegradable materials, the associations state that the notion of natural polymers should be clearly defined in future policy. A new and scientifically accurate definition of natural polymers, hence, would be of great importance to establish the future regulatory frameworks correctly. This would apply to future EU policies and also to the context of global treaty negotiations on plastic pollution.

Click here to read the joint industry position co-signed by EUBP.