Researchers Believe Plastic Packaging Ban 'Could Harm Environment'

Wednesday, January 15, 2020 - 11:59

Based on a report, called Plastic Promises, the consequences of using new materials have not been properly assessed and even worse for the environment.

“A lot of shops are selling packaging described as biodegradable or compostable. In fact the items might only be composted in an industrial composter – and, even then, some items might not be fully digested,” said a research group spokeswoman, Libby Peake to BBC News.

The report says: “Over 80% of consumers think biodegradable or compostable plastic is environmentally friendly, but there is little understanding of what the terms mean and how the material should be dealt with.

“Our interviewees wanted a clearer approach to where it should be used and how it should be marked to avoid confusing consumers and potentially causing more problems.”

The retailers worried that confusion could potentially harm the environment if people either put "compostable" plastic in with conventional plastic, or littered it, wrongly assuming it would biodegrade like an apple core.

Some companies that had tried using this type of plastic also suggested that the material did not degrade as expected in real world conditions.

One firm is quoted as saying: “Consumers are hugely confused about what bio-based, compostable and biodegradable mean.

“We are aware that [by switching from plastic to other materials] we may, in some cases, be increasing our carbon footprint.”

Andrew Opie, from the British Retail Consortium, echoed calls for a clearer strategy, “All responsible retailers agree that climate change needs to be at the heart of their business, whether that is sourcing products or changing packaging.

“Plastic remains the most effective material in many circumstances - for example cucumbers wrapped in plastic last 14 days longer, reducing food waste.

"A coherent waste and resources strategy is one that prioritizes reducing the environmental impact of the things we buy, not simply reducing plastic use.”

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