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ISRI unveils new policy on degradable additives in plastics packaging

Published 13 July 2017

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) has recently adopted a position on use of degradable additives in plastic packaging.

The institute has recently passed a series of changes to its policy positions, as well as a new policy on degradable additives in plastics packaging.

The ISRI said that the new policy has been adopted as a result of confusion over the use of the terms ‘bio-degradable’, ‘oxo-degrable’ or ‘photo-degradable’ to describe plastics containing degradable additives and when there is no evidence to support their use in meeting common definition of the terms.

According to the institute, degradable additives are those chemical compounds that used in conventional plastics such as polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS), polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) while converting them from polymer pellets to final products.

The institute stated that the use of the terms ‘bio-degradable’, ‘oxo-degrable’ or ‘photo-degradable’ in relation with plastic item may not be supported by tests conducted by third parties with standards and protocols as those published by ASTM, ISO and other standard making bodies.

Besides this, plastics that contain degradable additives can effect plastic recycling as the additives when mixed unknowingly with non-degradable plastics can compromise the feedstock significantly.

To overcome these issues, ISRI suggests that the terms ‘bio-degradable’, ‘oxo-degrable’ or ‘photo-degradable’ must be used only when they are supported by independent third party research and testing with accepted standard methods and specifications published by ASTM, ISO or other standard making bodies.

The institute also suggests that the introduction of plastic products with degradable additives should not harm or compromise acceptable recycling practices in force and recycle material product expectations and the affiliated recycling infrastructure.

It also suggested that the companies should be careful about the use of the terms as they can encourage irresponsible consumer behaviour such as littering.