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Misinformation prevents action

April 6th, 2016

OPA responds to article  in  youris.com    (22-March 2016)     Preventing – oceans of plastic soup”

Misinformation preventing action

According to the recent report produced by the Ellen McArthur Foundation “the new plastics economy” plastic production has surged from 15million tonnes in 1964 to a whopping 311 tonnes in 2014, worse still it is expected to double over the next 20 years. So the problem we have with plastic waste on land on sea will only get worse, unless we act, and we need to act soon.

It would be fantastic if all the citizens of the world could be persuaded to dispose of their plastic waste responsibly and if it were possible to collect and recycle it to make other products or to burn for energy, but this is still a long way off.  Oxo-biodegradable plastic was developed to deal with the problem of plastic waste in the environment, at little or no extra cost.  It can be recycled if collected – See http://www.biodeg.org/recycling.html but it will degrade and biodegrade in the same way as a leaf – only quicker if it gets into the open environment.  

Oxo-biodegradable plastics have been studied by scientists for many years, most recently at the Technical Research Institute of Sweden and the Swedish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, a peer-reviewed report was published in Vol 96 of the Journal of Polymer Degradation and Stability (2011 – Pages 919-928).  They found 91% biodegradation within 24 months.

If this type of plastic merely fragmented without biodegrading, CEN would not have defined oxo-biodegradability at all and the American and British Standards authorities would not have included tests for oxo-biodegradability and eco-toxicity.  Oxo-biodegradable plastic conforms to ASTM D6954 and BS8472.   It degrades and biodegrades in the open environment, until it becomes a food for microorganisms.  There are no toxic residues or fragments of plastic.  

True it is made from oil, but it is made from a by-product of oil production that used to be wasted, and the same amount of oil would be extracted for fuels, even if plastic did not exist. More important is the fact that the life of the plastic bag or packaging can be pre-determined at manufacture (typically 6 – 18 months). It is cheap to produce and can be made in existing plastic factories with existing workforce and machinery, so could be made right now.

While the majority of countries in the world are still arguing about what to do for the best and doing little in the interim to tackle the problem.  There are countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East who have legislated to make oxo-biodegradable technology mandatory for plastic packaging and bags, –because it works.

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