SPI Bioplastics Council Questions Scientific Validity of Degradable Additives in Revised Position Paper

January 22, 2013

Barry Eisenberg

Council to Present Paper on January 30th at U.S. Composting Council Annual Conference

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Bioplastics Council, a special interest group of SPI: the Plastics Industry Trade Association, today announced the release of a position paper addressing the issue of degradable additives. The new paper, an update to the Council’s original 2010 paper, questions the scientific validity of biodegradability claims made by producers of degradable additives products. In addition, the Council will make a presentation on this paper on Wednesday, January 30 at the U.S. Composting Council’s annual conference in Orlando, Florida.     

Since its inception in 2008, the SPI Bioplastics Council has placed consumer and industry education at the core of its mission. A key Council objective is emphasis on clarifying “bioplastics-related” marketing claims. In the position paper released today, the Council outlines the issues and questions concerning degradable additives in order to support consumers, retailers and the plastics industry in identifying unsubstantiated and misleading product claims.

Download the position paper here

We felt it was important to update our 2010 position paper because new terminology is now being used in the marketplace and new studies have become available,” said Melissa Hockstad,  SPI vice president, science, technology and regulatory affairs. “The 2013 version also includes updated information about standards and certification programs, as well as a new section on ’Guidance on Marketing Claims for Biodegradation.’”

The SPI Bioplastics Council position stressed that any claim, especially claims for consumers, needs to be supported by third-party vetted scientific evidence based on well-established standard specifications. In the case of degradable additives the issue is one of claiming “biodegradation” where there is no evidence to support those claims or prove biodegradability as per accepted, third-party vetted specifications. As bioplastics products continue to grow, it is the duty of the industry to provide clear, substantiated scientific third-party certifications that will assure stakeholders that the products offered meet their requirements for end-of-life and offer real value in their intended use.

The SPI Bioplastics Council considers the use of terms without reference to existing acceptable standard specifications misleading, and as such are not reproducible and verifiable. Under these conditions the terms "degradable," "oxo-degradable," "oxo-biodegradable" and “oxo-green”  "oxo-biodegradable," lack meaning and are not supported by any recognized industry certifications or third-party peer reviewed scientific data.

“Through its commitment to education, the Council has made a pointed decision to insist on bringing clarity to the bioplastics market,” stated Hockstad. In addition she notes that “the Bioplastics Council supports legitimate scientific data as recommended by state and federal agencies and stresses the need for all companies, when making product claims, to work along guidelines defined by the Federal Trade Commission.”

Launched in 2008, the Bioplastics Council was created to provide a forum for the full bioplastics value chain to promote the development and growth of the bioplastics industry. Currently, the members of the group are BASF Corporation, DuPont, Ecospan, Jamplast, Metabolix, NatureWorks LLC, Nypro Inc., PolyOne Corporation, Teknor Apex and UL.

Learn more about the group at http://www.bioplasticscouncil.org/. Membership and other inquiries should be addressed to SPI Vice President, Science, Technology and Regulatory Affairs, Melissa Hockstad at mhockstad@plasticsindustry.org or 202-974-5258.

Founded in 1937, SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association promotes growth in the $427 billion U.S. plastics industry. Representing nearly one million American workers in the third largest U.S. manufacturing industry, SPI delivers legislative and regulatory advocacy, market research, industry promotion and the fostering of business relationships and zero waste strategies. SPI also owns and produces the international NPE trade show. All profits from NPE are reinvested into SPI’s industry services. Find SPI online at www.plasticsindustry.org and www.inthehopper.org.

"From resin suppliers and equipment makers to processors and brand owners, SPI is proud to represent all facets of the U.S. plastics industry," said William R. Carteaux, president and CEO, SPI. "Our most recent economic reports show that the plastics industry as a whole is resilient, and has come through the recession significantly better than other U.S. manufacturing sectors."

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