The projects compared Symphony’s d2w oxo-biodegradable plastic carrier and bread bags with conventional and bio-based plastic bags.
Environmental quality and safety services provider Intertek claims that its LCA “puts the environmental credentials of Symphony’s d2w plastic bags way ahead of the other types of plastic”.
Symphony is an oxo-biodegradable plastic technology firm.
Symphony chief executive Michael Laurier said: “Plastic litter is a serious problem, which cannot be ignored by calling it a ‘behavioural issue’. While only 0.75% of plastic carrier bags enter the litter stream each year this amounts to over 48 million bags in the UK alone as estimated in this LCA. The LCA confirms that oxo-biodegradable plastic offers real environmental benefits.”
Symphony claims the findings from the assessment show that:
- The oxo-biodegradable bag performed 75% better than the conventional bag in the litter category. In all other categories the oxo-biodegradable and conventional bags were almost the same.
- The bio-based bag had the worst performance in 10 of the 11 environmental impact categories. The bio-based bag was superior to the conventional bag in only the litter-effects category, but inferior to the oxo-biodegradable bag in that category.
- The impact of oxo-degradable plastics in landfill is the same as conventional plastics, with no anaerobic degradation and no emission of methane. The report further confirmed that bio-based bags emit methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) in landfill.
- Bio-based plastic cannot be recycled with conventional plastic in a mixed, post-consumer waste stream without compromising the recycling process, but oxo-biodegradable plastic can be recycled.
- The inclusion of 50% recycled content reduced the global warming impact of the conventional bags by 19%. However, the recycled content had a negative effect on seven of the environmental impact categories, mostly due to extra transportation and the need to make them thicker and heavier for the same strength.
- The best way to reduce the impact of plastic carrier bags is to re-use them more often, minimise the transportation needed for recycling, and make them oxo-biodegradable. The LCA noted that carrier bags are often re-used and should not be described as single-use bags.
Dr John Williams, head of materials at Bioeconomy Consultants NNFCC, criticised the LCA. He said: “We would ask that this study be published in the public domain so it is available for scrutiny. Until then it would be difficult to verify its conclusions. Those in the industry, including ourselves, would be very interested to read the report in full in order to see if the conclusions are correct in the context of this LCA. But our position on oxo degradables plastic additives remains unchanged. Promoting sensible and certified routes to re-use, recycle and dispose of plastics, is central to our future low carbon ambitions. Artificially accelerating the degradation of an oil-based plastics is neither economically or environmentally sensible.”
Link to Intertek report below: