Plastic Bags: Biodegradability

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of Douglas Chapman Douglas Chapman Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence Procurement & Nuclear Disarmament)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans she has to bring forward legislative proposals to make all plastic bags sold compostable.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The introduction of the 5p Carrier Bag Charge has been highly effective at reducing consumption of single-use carrier bags. Composting standard EN 13432 defines the requirements for biodegradability of products required to meet the standard. This requires the use of an industrial composter. Compostable bags can be disposed of in foodwaste collections but only if the householder’s local authority uses an industrial composting process to treat the waste (some use anaerobic digestion). The Government would need to ensure that there was the right infrastructure in place and that the environmental benefits outweighed using conventional plastics before legislating to mandate that all plastic bags were compostable. That evidence is not yet available.

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