PLASTIC PACKAGING
European science academies join forces to study plastics chain / EUBP sees bioplastics criticisms as mainly emotional
Current efforts to resolve the plastics crisis are “ineffective and misleading,” according to a group of European scientists, who believe that fundamental and systemic reforms are needed across the whole plastics value chain. In its latest report “Packaging plastics in the circular economy”, the European Academies Science Advisory Council (Easac, Halle / Germany; www.easac.eu) says reducing the leakage of millions of tonnes of plastics waste into the environment is incompatible with banking on continued growth in plastics use.

Published in March 2020, the 76-page report is the result of an 18-month investigation by the academies into the scientific aspects of plastic packaging and a circular economy, with the aim of assisting the European Commission in developing policies under its “Circular Economy Action Plan” – see Plasteurope.com of 13.03.2020. According to Easac, this is the first time that leading scientists from the national academies of science of 28 European countries have joined efforts in taking a look at the whole plastics chain.

Based on their findings, Easac’s scientists are making seven recommendations to European policymakers on how to transform the system. These include banning exports of plastics waste, adopting a target of zero plastics waste to landfill by minimising consumption and one-way use, extending producer responsibility, ending misleading information about bio-based alternatives, advancing recycling and reprocessing technology, limiting additives and types of resin to improve recyclability and, finally, introducing price regulations and quotas for recycled content.

“We have to reuse plastic goods and packaging, drastically improve our recycling and above all see that no waste is leaked into the environment,” says Easac’s environment programme director Michael Norton. He adds that switching to bio-based materials cannot be justified either, both on resource or environmental grounds, as they “can mislead consumers by creating a false image of sustainability and risk prolonging today’s throw-away mentality.”

European Bioplastics (EUBP, Berlin / Germany; www.european-bioplastics.org) is critical of the statements on bio-based and biodegradable plastics in Easac’s report and calls the recommendations to EU institutions “questionable.” It sees the publication as mainly emotional and not raising science-based arguments. With the report questioning how “well” biodegradable plastics degrade, EUBP chairman François de Bie points to the study done by Wageningen University & Research (WUR, Wageningen / The Netherlands) and Wrap’s (Banbury / UK; www.wrap.org.uk) recent suggestions for compostable packaging – see Plasteurope.com of 11.02.2020 and 05.03.2020.
31.03.2020 Plasteurope.com [244788-0]
Published on 31.03.2020

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