Degradable plastics firm slams Tesco for dropping biodegradable bags

Degradable plastics specialist Symphony Environmental Technologies has hit back at claims that biodegradable plastic bags are not eco-friendly - and questioned Tesco's reasons for dropping the carriers.

Speaking out against a recent report by Defra into the degradability of plastic oxo biodegradable carrier bags, Symphony said the bags supplied to Tesco, by one of its competitors, were poorly made, but that this had nothing to do with the bag’s degradability.

Symphony said the bags it produces are made with recyclate, which can be recycled with normal plastics, in contrast to bio-based plastics which cannot be recycled.

But, according to Defra’s research, degradability depends on where and under what conditions the bag ends up in after use. It concluded that oxo biodegradable bags would be ‘unlikely’ to degrade effectively in landfill sites.

As a result of this research, Tesco has now decided to stop using the biodegradable bags, despite the fact it handed out more than two billion of the bags to customers last year, and return to traditional plastic bags.

Tesco’s carrier bags are now made using 15% recycled material, however Symphony has criticised the supermarket for ditching the bio-bags for financial reasons.

It also argued that the report contained some very positive findings about the type of degradable plastic it uses and that it didn’t believe that recyclability was the reason behind Tesco’s latest move.

A spokesperson for Symphony said: “We think that the real reason why Tesco have taken this action is to save money.

“This is a pity, because the on-cost is very small, and Tesco had set an example to supermarkets around the world by supplying their customers with degradable carrier- bags. Tesco is an environmentally responsible company but we think they have taken a retrograde step, and should think again.”

Carys Matthews

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