Voluntary agreement on biodegradeable polymers in EU packaging sector

A consortium of packaging production companies have committed themselves to guaranteeing an efficient biodegradeability standard for their products to lower the environmental impact of the sector and enhance consumer confidence.

Four companies have committed to the agreement - BASF, Cargill Dow, Novamont, and Rodenburg Polymers - representing over 90% of the European market for biodegradeable plastics. The self-commitment will be managed by the International Biodegradeable Polymers Association & Working groups (IBAW).

The Environmental Agreement (EA) should ensure the keeping of an internationally recognised standard for the biodegradation of polymers produced from either renewable or fossil sources. No legislative action is currently planned by the European Commission in this area, but it is hoped the new EA should:

  • encourage the development and use of new polymers thereby fostering innovation and competitiveness;
  • open up new avenues for waste management and recycling;
  • improve soil and water quality through high quality compost;
  • create additional sources of income for farmers.

    Commission Vice-President Gunter Verheugen said: "I warmly welcome this commitment. We are actively encouraging such initiatives by the private sector. They are an alternative to "hard" legislation and a central element of the Commission's zeal to regulate in a better and simpler way."

    The EA also includes a certification and labelling scheme, so users and consumers of the products can be assured about the environmental qualities before purchasing.

    By David Hopkins

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