- The Bio-based and Biodegradable Industries Association welcomes the 5p bag charge but says an exemption for compostable carriers would promote organic waste collection, increase recycling rates, employment and reduce costs for local authorities
- The UK trade body calls on the ASA, EA and DEFRA to investigate biodegradability claims made by marketers of polyethylene bags with oxo additives which appear to be unsupported by relevant standards
According to a study carried out by CEBR on behalf of the BBIA, presented today at the House of Lords, the UK has the opportunity to develop a domestic bio-plastics industry able to support 35,000 jobs, produce £1 billion in gross employment compensation and generate £2 billion of gross value added to the economy, with a local production of 120,000 tonnes considering just relevant flexible and food-service packaging.
CEBR’S analysis, the first of its kind in the country, shows that for the UK to fully capitalise on the industry’s potential, a supportive technological, legislative and commercial environment should be in place. To achieve this, the UK can learn from the examples set by Europe, the USA and Asia.
- The EU’s “Europe 2020” is an example of how support for the bio-plastics industry can be integrated into the continent’s strategy for achieving sustainable economic growth.
- Political support is crucial. The UK government can do more to incorporate the economic potential of the bio-plastics sector into the country’s wider growth strategy as illustrated in the points below.
- Legislative support can drive growth. Bans on plastic carrier bags have been introduced in Italy, France, California and Hawaii – and have demonstrated that simple single policy objectives such as reducing littering can cascade into other wide-reaching policy benefits such as food waste collection and organic recycling.
- Unambiguous standards and labelling. The full potential of a bio-plastics industry in the UK will only be released if consumers can recognise the sustainability benefits of these products via compliance with UK approved existing standards e.g. “BS EN 13432” and distinguish these from products falsely claiming biodegradability
- A public procurement approach is needed. As the US has shown, public sector support can help drive significant private sector investment.
“CEBR’s analysis, although limited to packaging, clearly shows the significant potential of a UK based bio-plastics industry” stated BBIA’s Chairman, Andy Sweetman. “The 5p bag charge, with a well-designed exemption for compostable carriers, represents an unmissable opportunity to develop a sector that can offer not just a wide range of benefits within the UK’s bioeconomy but also the ability to improve the country’s resource efficiency and sustainability.”
The meeting was hosted by Lord Jamie Lindsay to introduce the BBIA to industry leaders, government officials and policy makers. The analysis is the first economic impact assessment of the bio-plastics sector to the UK and is meant to be further expanded to take into account other areas of application.