The Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) has placed its position in response to the new research project set up by OWS and IKT-University Stuttgart with the aim to find an independent answer on whether oxo-degradable plastics are biodegradable or not (see our previous news on this topic).
ABA says that Bioplastics are a family of products that are biodegradable, biobased or both.
Biodegradability can be confirmed by certification to various internationally recognised standards such as EN 13432, ASTM D6400, or in Australia, AS 4736-2006 and products that cannot claim conformance to such standards, but only to 'test methods' for example, almost certainly do not and will not biodegrade in a composting facility in any desired time frame.
ABA discussed the topic with Professor Ramani Narayan, of Michigan State University, Distinguished Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science in the United States and a world renowned expert in the field of bioplastics and plastics generally.
“Terms such as ‘oxo’, ‘hydro’, ‘chemo’ and ‘photo’ describe potential abiotic (non-biological process) mechanisms of degradation. They do not constitute or represent ‘biodegradability’ − the biological process by which microorganisms present in the disposal environment assimilate/utilise carbon substrates as food for their life processes [...] Reporting the time to complete biodegradation or more specifically the time required for the complete microbial assimilation of the plastic, in the selected disposal environment, is an essential requirement − so stating that a plastic will eventually biodegrade based on data showing an initial 10−20% biodegradability is not acceptable and is misleading." Professor Narayan explained.
The ABA says claims for biodegradability made by proponents of oxo-degradable plastics are misleading and do not conform with global standards, and such claims are being disputed and challenged by the bioplastics industry both here and overseas.
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