Plastics: Biodegradability

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 10th May 2018.

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Photo of Preet Kaur Gill Preet Kaur Gill Shadow Minister (International Development)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the merits of making it obligatory for manufacturers to include oxo biodegradation additives in everyday plastic items.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

We have assessed the environmental impacts of oxo-biodegradable plastics across their life cycle and, as a consequence, have no current plans to make the use of oxo-biodegradation additives mandatory in the manufacture of everyday plastic items.

The current evidence on the overall environment benefits of oxo-biodegradable plastic is not conclusive. The main concern which has been raised is that oxo-biodegradable plastics could take time to degrade without oxygen and sunlight once they have leaked into the broader environment. It is suggested that this lack of complete degradation could result in the generation of micro plastics, which can be more harmful to the environment and aquatic life. We will continue to look closely at, and be driven by, the evidence on this issue.

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