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Biobased & biodegradable plastics

Biobased & biodegradable polymers are in the scope of the SUP

Biobased polymers and polymers with biodegradability claims do not get exempted from the imposed restriction on single-use articles. In theory, polymers that do readily degrade in the various natural environments may contribute less to the littering problems on land and in the oceans. However, the second important goal of the SUP is the reduction of generated waste as the result of single-use articles and the aim for increasing the uptake of reusable articles.

In some cases, biodegradable polymers might have favourable End-of-life options compared to conventional polymers. But in general switching from conventional polymers to biobased/ biodegradable polymers for single-use plastic articles does not reduce the amount of waste or (natural) resources lost. Also, the risks that littered plastics pose to biodiversity (e.g., ingestion) is often not (fully) diminished by using biodegradable plastics, because their degradation time is still relatively long due to conditions or material properties.

Unmodified natural polymers and naturally occurring substances are exempted

Unmodified natural polymers/ naturally occurring polymers (substances), such as silk, wool, and cellulose, are outside the scope of the SUP (Single Use Plastics). The SUP uses the definition “unmodified natural polymer” from the REACH regulation to assess if a polymer is considered as such. A polymer is only an unmodified natural polymer, and thus exempted from SUP if it has not been chemically modified in any way. The reasoning is that naturally occurring polymers of which the chemical composition has not been altered are inherently biodegradable and do not pose the same risks as polymers obtained through chemical processing.

Ecomatters provided support in plastic regulation

We have years of experience with plastics regulation and sustainability assessment. Ecomatters has specific expertise with the Single Use Plastics directive and the implications it has on manufacturers or distributors. We help our clients with:

  • Exposure of products and materials to the Single Use Plastics directive to ensure full compliance
  • The position of biobased substances and biodegradable plastics within the Single Use Plastics directive
  • Advice on biobased feedstocks from an integral regulatory and sustainability perspective
  • Biodegradability standards and testing

Contact us

Max Sonnen

Managing Director
Marco Mense

Marco Mense

Senior Consultant

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