Symphony Environmental
Technologies Plc

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Symphony Environmental comment on the European Parliament’s proposal to reduce plastic products.

October 26th, 2018

This week the European Parliament considered a proposal from the Commission for a Directive on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment.

Symphony welcomes this proposal and is acutely aware of the damage which plastic can do, when it escapes into the open environment.  This plastic may not realistically be collected for recycling or anything else, and it could lie or float around for decades as microplastics, potentially causing tremendous damage to marine life. The efforts of the EU and member-states will reduce the amount of plastic entering the oceans but will not eliminate it, even in Europe.

“Symphony would welcome a ban on plastics which simply fragment in the open environment without biodegrading, and notes that the Environment Committee of the Parliament has added a clause to Annex 1 Part B of the draft Directive which seek to prevent the use of “oxo-degradable” plastics.  These are defined by CEN as plastics where degradation is identified as “resulting from oxidative cleavage of macromolecules.”

Symphony has developed a technology (branded d2w)  invented in the 1970s, which causes the plastic to degrade much more quickly than ordinary plastic and to be consumed by bacteria and fungi who recycle it back into nature. This is “oxo-biodegradable” plastic, defined by CEN as plastic where degradation is identified as “resulting from oxidative and cell-mediated phenomena, either simultaneously or successively.”

So far, 12 countries have passed legislation to make the use of this technology compulsory, as it is the only way of dealing with plastic which has escaped into the open environment and especially the oceans.

No clauses relating to degradable plastics had been included in the Commission’s draft because the Commission has asked the European Chemicals Agency to make a detailed study of this subject and ECHA’s report will not be available until January.

Symphony has provided ECHA with a substantial dossier, including Life-cycle Assessments, proving the scientific basis and benefits of oxo-biodegradable technology, and has also met with the scientists at ECHA.  Symphony is confident that the evidence shows that oxo-biodegradable plastic does degrade on land and sea significantly more quickly than ordinary plastic and is consumed by bacteria and fungi who recycle it back into nature.

Symphony notes that in draft Article 3 the Commission and the Parliament do not agree on the definition of “Biodegradable Plastic.”

The Parliament considers that it is plastic which accords with EN13432, but the Commission says that such plastic should be described as “compostable.” Both are incorrect.  EN13432 states clearly that it applies only to biodegradation in the special conditions found in industrial composting.  Also, plastic which accords with EN13432 does not convert into compost. It converts into CO2 which is emitted to atmosphere and is of no value as compost.

The Commission’s draft required it to report “whether sufficient scientific and technical progress has been made, and criteria or a standard for biodegradability in the marine environment applicable to single-use plastic products within the scope of this directive and their single-use substitutes have been developed, in order to determine which products no longer need to be subject to the restrictions on placing on the market, where appropriate.”  The Environment Committee of the Parliament wishes to remove this clause, but the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs does not.  The Commission is clearly right.

  • At this stage, this legislative proposal is still being considered and requires the final consent of both the European Parliament and European Council.
  • No clauses relating to degradable plastics have been included in the Commission’s draft because the Commission has asked the European Chemicals Agency to make a detailed study of this subject.
  • Symphony have provided ECHA with a substantial dossier on the benefits of oxo-biodegradable plastic.
  • ECHA’s report will not be available until January 2019 at the earliest.

 

 

26th October 2018

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