THE WHAT? A new standard for biodegradable plastic has been introduced in Britain, which is hoped to standardize confusing legislation for consumers, according to a report by the Guardian.
THE DETAILS Companies promoting biodegradable plastics will now have to pass a test, as published by the British Standards Institution, which proves that it breaks down into a harmless wax with no nanoparticles or microplastics.
British company Polymateria has developed a benchmark for the new standard (PAS 9017), having created a formula that allows plastic waste to transform into sludge at a certain moment during its lifespan.
As the breakdown starts, most items such as plastic bottles, cups and film, will have decomposed to carbon dioxide, water and sludge within two years. This process is triggered by sun, water and air. Consumers will be able to see a clear ‘recycle-by’ date to ensure they’ve disposed of the packaging before it starts to break down.
Following tests, the biotransformation formula broke down a polyethylene film in 226 days and plastic cups in 336 days.
Niall Dunne, Chief Executive of Polymateria, said, “We have designed this around the consumer.
“We wanted to cut through this eco-classification jungle and take a more optimistic view around inspiring and motivating the consumer to do the right thing. We now have a base to substantiate any claims that are being made and to create a new area of credibility around the whole biodegradable space.”
The standard, sponsored by Polymateria, was agreed upon after an independent review with industry stakeholders such as the waste and recycling group Wrap, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
THE WHY? The new standard could be a groundbreaking development for the beauty industry, which is one of the biggest offenders of single-use plastic.
Scott Steedman, Director of Standards at BSI, said: “Tackling the global challenge of plastic waste requires imagination and innovation. New ideas need agreed, publicly available, independent standards to enable the delivery of trusted solutions by industry.
“PAS 9017 is the first stakeholder consensus on how to measure the biodegradability of polyolefins that will accelerate the verification of technologies for plastic biodegradation.”