Relevance of Biodegradable and Compostable Consumer Plastic Products and Packaging in a Circular Economy

27th May 2020

by Simon Hann, Star Molteno, Mark Hilton

With more plastic products and packaging marketed as ‘biodegradable’ or ‘(home) compostable’, there is a question about how beneficial they are in the context of the transition towards a circular economy.

The European Commission’s new Circular Economy Action Plan, one of the main blocks of the European Green Deal, was announced in March 2020. It aims to promote sustainability across the whole product lifecycle to retain resources in the EU economy for as long as possible and reduce waste. At the same time, the volume of biodegradable plastic produced for the European market is growing (there was an estimated 175,000-200,000 tonnes in 2016 alone).

This report, the result of our study for the European Commission, assesses the possible implications of the use of biodegradable and compostable plastic products and identifies the conditions/applications in which they could be of added value when compared to reuse and other forms of recovery.

As well as providing an overview of the existing EU biodegradable plastics market and the related standards, the report also addresses subjects including:

  • The nature and quality of the compost resulting from compostable plastics
  • The effects of contamination of plastics separately collected for material recycling
  • Comparison of the environmental performance or plastic and non-plastic biodegradable products
  • The littering risk of biodegradable plastics

The report is available for free and immediate download by clicking the button below. All you need to do is provide us with some basic information.