The European Commission today launched a public consultative on biobased, compostable and biodegradable plastics. This consultation will provide insights for the preparation of a new policy framework regarding these plastics. The new framework is a key deliverable of both the European Green Deal & the Circular Economy Action Plan. It aims to address the emerging sustainability challenges associated with the use of biobased, compostable, and biodegradable plastics. It also aims to drive innovation, increase investor certainty and protect the environment.
Virginijus, Commissioner of the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Sinkeviius said:
Biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastics have the potential to bring advantages overtraditionalplastics. We must ensure that these plastics are able to deliver on their promises. We must also make it clear to the market so that consumers and businesses can easily understand the differences among these plastics.
Current market share of 1% in the European and global plastics markets is made up of biobased, biodegradable, and compostable plastics. This market is expected to grow by 58% between 2020-2025. These plastics are primarily used for packaging and agricultural purposes. They offer advantages such as biodegradability and compostability.
This consultation comes after the publication of the roadmap, which outlines the goal of the framework to address emerging sustainability challenges related the use of these materials. It maps the following policy areas that should be explored:
Policy area 1: Sustainability of the biobased plastics production process
Plastics’ environmental impact can be reduced by using biological feedstock rather than feedstock made of fossil fuels. However, it is important that the full life cycle environmental impacts of plastics be considered, including land use change, biodiversity, climate impacts, littering, and climate impacts. These plastics are not subject to the EU sustainability criteria. However, consumers expect them fully sustainable.
Policy area 2: The effective biodegradation biodegradable and composable plastics and their role within a circular economy
These plastics will only be able to provide environmental benefits if they can be verified as biodegradable by using standards. Although there are European standards that apply to industrial composting, they do not apply to biodegradable materials in other environments, such as the marine environment. Additionally, the circular economy principles and waste hierarchy principles state that plastics should only be used for very specific purposes.
Politique area 3: Widespread confusion
These plastics share many similarities, but they also have many differences. These plastics are not available to consumers or users. They do not have clear and trustworthy information for disposal. Only clear and complete labels can help. Also, improper disposal of these plastics could lead to cross-contamination and less plastic circularity.
The consultation is available on the DG ENV website. It is open for feedback for 8 week until 15 March 2022. When preparing the policy framework regarding biobased, compostable and biodegradable plastics, which is expected to be adopted by summer 2022, the Commission services will consider your feedback.
Contribute to the public consult
EU Plastics Strategy
Plan for Action in the EU Circular Economy
Website about EU action on plastics
Website about the upcoming policy framework for biobased, biodegradable, and compostable plastics