European Commission reveals its views on the future of plastics
The European Commission has published its first Science for Environment Policy briefing – Plastic waste: redesign and biodegradability. The document focuses on “the future of environmentally-friendly plastic design”. “The brief explores the latest research into the redesign of plastics and developments in biodegradable plastics, with policy options to ensure that plastic’s benefits are maximised and its risks are minimised,” according to the report’s authors. “The redesign of plastics is already happening and bioplastics, which are made or derived from natural, renewable sources, such as plants and bacteria, are already on the market. They are rarely used and make up just 0.1-0.2% of plastic used in the EU. Greater use of bioplastics could help reduce our reliance on petroleum, which is used to make conventional plastic.” However, according to the report a question mark remains over the environmental credentials of bioplastics. “For example, there is debate as to whether they fully degrade in the natural environment, and not just in the laboratory settings where they have been tested. “There is also disagreement on their life-cycle impacts. If more crops are grown for plastics, this may exacerbate existing environmental issues with agriculture, such as fertiliser polluted water.” A copy of the report is available here.