Biodegradable Plastics Needed to Increase Recycling Efficiency

BERLIN, September 25, 2017 /PRNewswire/ --

In the light of the current debates around the upcoming EU Strategy on Plastics and the revision of the EU waste legislation, European Bioplastics (EUBP), the association for the bioplastics industry in Europe, echoes the call for the implementation of separate recycling streams for biodegradable plastics, made by the association of Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE) last week. EUBP supports the efforts to improve waste management efficiency throughout Europe and to ensure a high quality of recycled plastics.

Organic recycling is a well-established industrial process ensuring the circular use for biodegradable plastics while creating a strong secondary raw material market and opportunity for renewable energy generation. Biodegradable plastics help to reduce contamination of mechanical recycling streams by facilitating separate collection of biowaste and therefore diverting organic waste from other recycling streams. Numerous beacon projects throughout Europe demonstrate the positive effects of compostable bags on the efficiency and quality of separate biowaste collection, including in the cities of Milan, Munich, and Paris.

If biodegradable plastic products do enter mechanical recycling streams, they can easily be sorted out with available technologies such as near infrared. University of Wageningen has analysed biodegradable plastics in mechanical recycling streams and detected levels not higher than 0.3%. They also found that there were no negative effects on the properties of recycled film products containing biodegradable film recyclates. On the other hand, contamination of organic waste streams by misthrows of non-biodegradable plastics is high and constitutes a real problem for composting facilities and negatively affects the quality of compost. This problem can only be tackled by establishing mandatory separate biowaste collection supported by the use of biodegradable plastic bags and packaging and accompanied by consumer information on correct disposal and recycling.

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