Oxo-degradable bags under fire

6 Mar 2017

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Spain announced plans to ban the sale of lightweight oxo-degradable bags from 2018 onwards under a new law drafted by the Spanish agriculture and environment ministry. The law implements an EU directive to reduce the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags. The draft also includes a minimum price on plastic bags above 15 microns and labelling requirements to aid the distinction of compostable bags from non-compostable bags.

Oxo-fragmentable plastics are conventional plastic materials with artificial additives that do not biodegrade but merely fragment into small pieces that remain in and potentially harm the environment and endanger recycling and composting.

Spain is the second country in Europe to take concrete actions to limit the harmful impacts of oxo-degradable plastics. In July 2015, France prohibited the production, distribution, sale, provision and utilization of packaging or bags made partially or completely of oxo-degradable plastics.

The European Commission is currently undertaking an assessment on the impact of oxo-degradable plastics on the environment. As set out in the amendment of the EU Directive on packaging and packaging waste from 2015 ‘a set of measures to limit their consumption or to reduce any harmful impacts’ shall be proposed, if appropriate. The results will be presented in 2018, at the latest.

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