Canadians enter green plastics controversy
There’s a debate raging about the best way to dispose of waste plastics when recycling isn’t an op...
There’s a debate raging about the best way to dispose of waste plastics when recycling isn’t an option, and a Canadian plastics executive has just waded in.
Chemical systems that produce oxo-degradation, or a gradual breaking down of the polymer molecules, are one emerging disposal option, but have drawn criticism.
Now, Adelene Ong, technical and management executive at Vancouver-based EPI Environmental Technologies – a supplier of oxo-biodegradable plastic additives – is criticizing a recent report by the Berlin-based European Bioplastics organization that said oxo-biodegradable technology fails to live up to international established and acknowledged standards that support biodegradation and compostability.
“This is part of the hydro-biodegradable industry’s effort to give its product an artificial advantage by creating confusion on the term ‘biodegradability’ and ‘compostability’ by implying that the two words are interchangeable, and on that basis, that oxo-biodegradable plastics biodegradation is unsubstantiated,” Ong told news organizations.
For the average consumer, Ong said, compostability has come to mean that the plastic product, primarily bags, meet an international standard (ASTM D6400 or EN13432). “Oxo-biodegradable plastics bags do not biodegrade as quickly in a compost environment as required by these standards, which were developed primarily for hydro-biodegradable polymers, e.g. starch-based products,” she said. “Consequently we cannot and do not claim compostability as per ASTM D6400 for EPI products. However, this does not mean EPI’s oxo-biodegradable plastics products will not biodegrade; they just convert the carbon to carbon dioxide in a longer time frame.”
Ong noted that EPI’s oxo-biodegradable plastics meet existing international standards for biodegradation. “Standard specifications for degradable plastics currently exist only for their performance in industrial composting,” Ong said. “We do not claim that our products are compostable, but we maintain and have shown scientifically that they do biodegrade when tested according to ASTM D5988. The biodegradation of oxo-biodegradable plastics is also presented in ASTM D6954-04, which provides a testing protocol using ASTM standard methods to compare the performance of plastics that biodegrade in various disposal environments.”