SPC Position Against Biodegradability Additives in Petroleum-Based Plastics

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The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) has released a formal position paper against biodegradability additives for petroleum-based plastics, which are marketed as enhancing the sustainability of plastic by rendering the material biodegradable. The SPC has evaluated the use of biodegradability additives for conventional petroleum-based plastics, and has found that these additives do not offer any sustainability advantage and they may actually result in more environmental harm.

The position paper lists the following reasons for the stance against these additives:

  • They don’t enable compostability, which is the meaningful indicator of a material’s ability to beneficially return nutrients to the environment.

  • They are designed to compromise the durability of plastic and the additive manufacturers have not yet demonstrated an absence of adverse effects on recycling.

  • The creation of a “litter friendly” material is a step in the wrong direction, particularly when the material may undergo extensive fragmentation and generation of micro-pollution before any biodegradation occurs.

  • The biodegradation of petroleum-based plastics releases fossil carbon into the atmosphere, creating harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
For questions or comments on the report, please contact SPC Senior Manager Adam Gendell at 434.202.4790 or email.