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Symphony blasts Tesco over oxo bags and calls for end to NNFCC

August 19, 2011 13 Comments » Print Print

13 COMMENTS – Oxo degradable additive firm Symphony Environmental Technologies has claimed that Tesco has decided to stop using oxo biodegradable bags to save money

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It emerged earlier this week that Tesco had stopped using the bags over issues reported to be related to the strength of the bags.

The move was praised by the National Non-Food Crops Centre, but has attracted criticism from other groups.

In the latest comments on the move, a spokesman for Symphony, which produces the d2w additive that allows plastics to degrade, 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. We will be happy to talk with them.”

The company’s comments follow the news that Tesco has decided to stop using oxo biodegradable bags because it claimed that they were “weak” and that customers were ‘double bagging’ at the tills.

Customer concerns

A Tesco spokeswoman said that in February 2011 it started to issue new carrier bags to its  stores without the biodegradable additive, but with up to 15% recycled plastic.

She added: “We took the decision to remove the biodegradable additive because we believed it contributed towards them becoming weaker (addressing customer concerns about the strength of our bags) and to help better promote their re-use and recycling at end of life.

“This decision was underpinned by a detailed review of the science, using external experts to help us understand the full life cycle environmental impacts of our carrier bags.”

The National Centre for Biorenewable Energy, Fuels and Materials (NNFCC) welcomed the move by Tesco’s to drop oxo biodegradable bags.

According to the NNFCC, oxo biodegradable bags are made of non-renewable plastics, which are able to degrade in the presence of oxygen and sunlight thanks to the addition of small amounts of metals.

In its statement, Symphony went on to call for the NNFCC to be scrapped. A spokesman said: “Campaigns to reduce the use of plastic bags, and to make them from recyclate, are all very well, but what is to happen to the bags and other plastic products which escape collection? They will lie or float around for decades in the environment if they are not degradable.

“We are not surprised by the comments from the National Non-food Crops Centre which is a promoter of a competing biodegradable technology based on vegetable-derived material. This technology is now widely understood to be of very limited use and far too expensive.

“The NNFCC is another quango which should be scrapped.”

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