The Companies Section of the Court of Milan has ruled in favour of biotech firm, Novamont, in its case against Kromabatch S.r.l., which distributes oxo-biodegradable plastics additive ‘d2w’ in Italy, over the dissemination of information regarding which traditional plastics with added d2w could be considered as being ‘biodegradable’ or ‘oxo-biodegradable’ according to standard UNI EN 13432.
Novamont said that the ruling means that the dissemination of such information constitutes unfair competition due to the unlawful appropriation of qualities and incorrect information to the consumer, and obliges those who do so to make good any damage.
The company, which manufacturers biopolymer ‘Mater-Bi’, said that in applying the current regulations, the decision lays down some fundamental principles regarding the ‘biodegradability’ of plastics and the communication of this characteristic on the market.
It added that the ruling is also the first decision on this matter since the ban on marketing non-biodegradable shopping bags according to standard UNI EN 13432:2002 entered into force (Law no. 28 of 24 March 2012).
Novamont also noted that according to the Court, the fact that a plastic material with an additive degrades to a greater extent than traditional plastic is not sufficient to be able to say that it is "suitable for the manufacture of biodegradable products in accordance with (…) UNI EN 13432". It is instead necessary for this purpose that the material is actually conforming to standard UNI EN 13432:2002 and passes the biodegradability test envisaged therein.
In this context, the Court was said to have emphasised that Kromabatch’s position regarding the existence of various degrees of biodegradability and ruled that a product "advertised as suitable to attain biodegradability at the level achievable according to the provisions of … UNI EN 13432".
Furthermore, the Court established that it is the responsibility of the businesses and their representatives to check "scrupulously the accuracy of the commercial information conveyed" on the market.
On this basis, Novamont said that the Court of Milan banned Kromabatch from asserting that the additive d2w could ‘give biodegradability’ to traditional plastics in accordance with the provisions of standard UNI EN 13432, ordering it to pay compensation for damages and decreeing that the executive part of the judgment be published in the Corriere della Sera newspaper, in the Polimerica trade magazine and on the homepage of the Kromabatch website for two months.
"This is an important decision because it will allay the fears of all those companies operating in the innovative sector of biodegradable plastics who conform to the rules of communication at the service of the consumer”, commented Novamont’s marketing director, Alessandro Ferlito.
"Besides encouraging informed purchasing decisions, which help to improve environmental conditions and consumers’ lives, conforming to the rules of communication is an essential driver of innovation in our sector", added Ferlito.
The first-instance judgment of the Court of Milan is appealable by Kromabatch within the period prescribed by the law.