Plastic additive d2w does not ‘give biodegradability’
The Court of Milan has ruled that plastic bags and other products containing the additive ‘d2w’ cannot legally be marketed as ‘biodegradable’ in accordance with European market standards.
The ruling was made as the result of a case brought against Italian company KromaBatch, which has been marketing the chemical as an additive capable of making regular plastics ‘biodegradable’, or ‘oxo-biodegradable’.
The company was taken to court by Novamont, manufacturers of the biopolymer Mater-Bi, on the basis that the information constituted unfair competition and mis-information to the consumer.
The court ruled in favour of Novamont, stating that the fact plastics containing d2w degrade to a greater extent than traditional plastics is ‘insufficient’ to show that these products meet the European standard of industrial compostability, as defined by the EN 13432 standard.
The EN 13432 industrial standard requires that a plastic product must be shown to reach 90 per cent biodegradation after 90 days in a lab before it can be marketed as ‘biodegradable’.
As KromaBatch could not demonstrate that products containing the additive would pass this biodegradability test, it was therefore banned from using the term in relation to ‘d2w’.
The company was ordered to pay compensation for any damages that arose from the misinformation, and it was decreed that the court’s judgement would be published in the Corriere della Sera newspaper, in the Polimerica trade magazine and on the homepage of the Kromabatch website for two months.
Specifically, the judge ordered Kromabatch to pay Novamont the amount of €100,000 (£74,593) and reimburse costs of €20,000 (£14,918) plus VAT and lawyers' fees.
The court also noted that it is the ‘precise obligation’ of every “professionally-diligent businessman" in the sector to ensure that its products are marketed in correct correspondence to the industry standard.
’An important decision’
Speaking after the court case earlier this week, Novamont’s Marketing Director, Alessandro Ferlito, commented: "This [ruling] is an important decision because it will allay the fears of all those companies operating in the innovative sector of biodegradable plastics who conform to the rules of communication at the service of the consumer.
"Besides encouraging informed purchasing decisions, which help to improve environmental conditions and consumers’ lives, conforming to the rules of communication is an essential driver of innovation in our sector".
UK plastic bag charge
The ruling is the first decision of its kind since Italy imposed a ban on the marketing of non-biodegradable shopping bags, and could add weight to England’s current debate on whether or not to include ‘biodegradable’ plastics in its forthcoming charge for single-use carrier bags.
Although the UK Government has previously stated that it is ‘not aware’ any lightweight plastic carrier bag can biodegrade in ‘multiple settings’ (i.e. on land, in the sea, or in soill), Novamont has claimed that compostable bags that meet EN13432 standard do exist (such as its Mater-Bi range) and that an exemption would ‘create a level playing field between single-use plastic bags and compostable bags….giving retailers the chance to promote the use of compostable bags as an alternative to traditional plastics’.
According to the draft Single Use Carrier Bag Charges (England) Order 2015, which was published in December 2014, the Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs will, by 5 October 2015, complete a review of industry standards for the biodegradability of lightweight plastic material and assess whether ‘there exists an industry standard appropriate for the purposes of an exclusion from the obligations… on grounds of biodegradability and, if so, how that exclusion would be implemented’.
Find out more about Novamont’s Mater-Bi range, or the debate around the biodegradability of plastic bags.