NFU joins call for ban on controversial degradable plastics

26 October 2020

The NFU, along with more than 40 other organisations, has called on the government to stop plastic materials which require additives to degrade being sold on the UK market.

It follows news that the British Standards Institution (BSI) enacted a new specification (PAS9017) this month supporting the sale of such plastics.

An open letter, published in the Daily Telegraph, calls on the government to follow the lead of the EU, which is banning similar oxo-degradable plastics from next year. The letter highlights how such degradable materials do not solve the global problem of plastic pollution, stating it instead encourages the public to litter under the misconception that the material is biodegradable.

The letter has been signed by the NFU, representatives from a host of major supermarkets, including Tesco, Waitrose, Aldi and Co-op, leading environmentalists such as Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet, Julie Williams, CEO of Butterfly Conservation, and John Read, founder of Clean Up Britain. Representatives from associations such as the Bio-based and Biodegradable Industries Association (BBIA), and the Environmental Services Association (ESA) have also added their names to the letter.

There are concerns that British companies that take up these materials could find they are unable to export their products to the EU once the ban comes into force in 2021. Equally, degradable plastic alternatives will disrupt the Britain’s Recycling facilities, which will be unable to differentiate between conventional plastics and doctored alternatives.

The letter reads:

“These materials contain additives that accelerate the conversion of macroplastics into microplastics after months or years of laying in the open.
“The UK voted for the EU ban when it was proposed in 2019. Failing to act now could turn Britain from a leader into a laggard in fighting the plastic crisis.
“For these reasons, we call on the government to protect our environment, protect our food production, and protect British business by banning these materials immediately.”

Full list of signatories to the letter:

  • James Bull, Head of Packaging – Tesco
  • Iain Ferguson, Environment Manager, Commercial Team – Food Policy – Co-op
  • Karen Graley, Partner & Manager, Packaging Innovation and Delivery – Waitrose
  • Chris McKenry, Project Director – ALDI
  • Philippa Arnold, Environmental Policy Advisor – NFU
  • David Newman, Managing Director – Bio-based and Biodegradable Industries Association (BBIA)
  • Emily Nichols – The Association for Renewable Energy & Clean Technology
  • Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive – Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ABDA)
  • Jacob Hayler, Executive Director – Environmental Services Association (ESA)
  • Martin Kersh, Executive Director – Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA)
  • Sian Sutherland, Co-Founder – A Plastic Planet
  • Dr Adrian Higson, Company Director – NNFCC
  • Joan Edwards, Director of Marine Conservation and Public Affairs – The Wildlife Trusts
  • Paul Thompson, Stakeholder Engagement – REAL Ltd
  • Julie Williams, Chief Executive Officer – Butterfly Conservation
  • John Read, Founder – Clean Up Britain
  • Christina Dixon, Environmental Investigation Agency
  • Gary Lee – TIPA
  • Ian Bates, Chief Executive Officer – Reelbrands Group
  • Kieran MacSweeney – BIOTEC
  • Katharina Schegel – BASF
  • Tony Breton – Novamont
  • Harold Naylor, Co-Founder – The Compost Bag Company
  • Andy Sweetman – FUTAMURA
  • Lucy Frankel, Environmental and Communications Director – Vegware
  • Josie Morris, Managing Director – Woolcool
  • Maria Giovanna Vetere – NatureWorks
  • Paul Mines, Chief Executive Officer – Biome Bioplastics
  • Kevin Clarke, Managing Director – KCC Packaging
  • Mark Shaw – Parkside
  • Bowen Tan – Pujing Chemical Industry
  • John Scott, Managing Director – Planglow
  • Bill Swan, Managing Director – BPR Group
  • Stuart Foster, Chief Executive Officer – RECOUP
  • Michele Giovoni, UK Branch Managing Director – Fabbri Group
  • Karen Scofield, Chief Executive Officer – Seal Oceanium
  • Ana Svab, Corporate Responsibility Manager & Simon Mussett, Head of Waste Management -Sodexo
  • Carmen Michels – Fkur
  • Graham Whitchurch – Solutions 4 plastic
  • Mark Bustard – The Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC)
  • Steven Pritchard – Fuchs Oil
  • Darcey Crownshaw – Snow Business
  • Stuart Ball – Absolute Management & Marketing (AMM)
  • Andrew Gill – Floreon

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